GLOBAL GURU OF CODE, STALLMAN, VISITS GOA THIS WEEK
PANJIM, Nov 3: In a surprise and unexpected development, one of the most
influential personalities worldwide in today's hacker culture, Dr Richard M.
Stallman, will pay a special visit to Goa this week as part of his
three-destination visit to India.
Stallman's visit is, in large part, tribute to Goa's active and growing
GNU/Linux movement, a three-year old voluntary network of 180+ members, that
is also involved in supporting a GNU/Linux-In-Schools initiative.
Of all Indian states, Goa also has the highest per capita number of
registered GNU/Linux users, according to the international Linux Counter.
Youngsters in Goa have been writing 'Free' code -- ranging from small
utilities to complete library management solutions that have got noticed as
far away as in distant Brazil.
Stallman (49), the controversial founder of the Free Software Foundation
(FSF), is a brilliant coder and MacArthur "genius grant" recipient who
single-handedly launched the movement that threatens to beat Microsoft by
radically changing the rules of the software game.
In a nutshell, Stallman believes that software must be free -- not in the
sense of being available for nothing -- but free to be copied, modified,
distributed, shared, and fixed.
His recent trip took him to Bangalore. After Goa (Nov 5-7) he flies on to
Delhi. On Nov 6, he speaks at the Farmagudi-based Goa College of
Engineering. In Bangalore, Stallman has spoken at IT.com
, addressed the
Computer Society of India and lectured at the IIIT-B on the dangers of
'Wired', the international IT journal, quoted Stallman saying: "I'm
to make software free and make computers free. That's my job."
Stallman earlier worked at the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the
prestigious MIT. In the mid-'80s, Stallman resigned from MIT to prevent the
institute from laying claim to the growing GNU project.
Unlike commercial software, which is proprietary, free-software programmers
don't have to solve the same problems over and over. They keep improving on
the work that came before, like the scientific method.
Goa has three GNU/Linux user groups that meet regularly in Panjim, Margao
and Farmaguddi. It also has an Internet-based e-list that keeps everyone
Some of the smartest programmers in the world revere this man, and his fans
in Goa are eagerly looking forward to his visit.
His biographer Sam Williams (author of "Free as in Freedom") says: "Nobody
but Richard could have had the patience, and the stubbornness, and the will
to build something this big. There are other people writing free software,
but he's the one that made it an issue. He's the one that provided the
initial gravitation that everybody else could gather around."
Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, has said: "Richard was the
first to take up what is now a very important battle...He was an early, lone
voice warning of how the concept of software intellectual property could
undermine, rather than support, the programmer."
Says Ashutosh Naik, a Goan studying engineering in Belgaum: "The RMS visit
is going to be a great achievement. Wish it was November 6 tomorrow."
Trilok Kumar commented: "I would like to confirm my presence at the meeting
(at Farmaguddi) to meet this great man."
In Goa too, Free Software is used in some government institutions,
engineering colleges and increasingly even on desktops. Its proponents say
it would infact enable youngsters to find productive employment for their
skills, and additionally make software both more affordable and relevant
to local needs. (ENDS)