June 1999 Troubleshooting Professional Magazine: More Heroes, and a Trip to Linux Expo

Copyright (C) 1999 by Steve Litt. All rights reserved. Materials from guest authors copyrighted by them and licensed for perpetual use to Troubleshooting Professional Magazine. All rights reserved to the copyright holder, except for items specifically marked otherwise (certain free software source code, GNU/GPL, etc.). All material herein provided "As-Is". User assumes all risk and responsibility for any outcome.

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A Visit to the Source

By Steve Litt
No Linux journey is complete without a visit to the source. I stopped by the Free Software Foundation booth, where I found Timothy Ney. Timothy's business card says he's the Managing Officer of FSF. Timothy explained he's in charge of the non technical details such as organization and fund raising. He's not even a programmer. Now Timothy's story starts getting interesting.

His background is in films. He was in the National Association of Filmmakers. He explained that independent film makers' passion and dedication toward the excellence of their creations is very similar to that of computer programmers. Two years ago he met Richard Stallman at a folk dancing/folk music event, immediately saw the commonality, and joined FSF.

I was anxious to hear FSF's views voiced by someone other than Richard Stallman. Timothy was very kind and diplomatic. When asked about the Open Source trademark, he said he felt it was for marketing purposes. He also explained that GNU/Linux is NOT just a way to beat Microsoft. No, it's about freedom.

I understand that RMS believes all software should be Free Software. Personally, I strongly believe the software's author has the right to choose licensing provisions, including proprietary. Timothy was so nice, diplomatic, and reasonable, that I tried to get him to agree with me. Very nicely and very diplomatically, he stuck to his guns. He explained that all software should be free -- a means of communication and education. Software authors should charge for service and customization. The capital intensive economy is giving way to the service economy. He also mentioned there are big bucks in branding, a la Red Hat.

Here's a guy I can admire. He's nice, he smiles, he's courteous, but he sticks to his guns, and thoroughly represents the FSF point of view.

I asked him if Stallman was there. Timothy explained that Richard was overseas giving talks. RMS is in huge demand for speaking engagements.

Richard Stallman can tour without worry. FSF operations are in Timothy Ney's capable hands.

Steve Litt can be reached at Steve Litt's email address.