Every Entrepreneur should know what Richard Stallman, the Founder of GNU and the Free Software Foundation, did.
We have always said that an Entrepreneur has to look for inspiration and there are thousands of stories out there that could give you the right boost to start something. They are all about self-made millionaires or even billionaires. People love money, because they believe it will make their lives easier. It’s true, but what is also true is that money is not what you should always look for. There are plenty of people out there that have started companies, built entire Operating Systems and promoted their ideas without earning anything from what they did. One of these guys is Richard Stallman.
Richard Stallman is the founder of the Free Software Foundation (Free as matter of Freedom, not price) and he’s also the creator of GNU. Richard didn’t want a world made of proprietary software, because he believed people should share, improve and even modify their own code and other people’s code. For this reason, thirty years ago he started programming an entire operating system on his own, called GNU, which stands for GNU Is Not Unix. At that time, Unix was the major proprietary operating system.
It wasn’t easy for him, because he was fighting a war against the biggest companies on the market and he started as a single entity. However, people soon realized the value of what he was building and decided to help him through the creation of an entire free software operating system. A couple years later, Richard Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation, a no profit organisation whose aim was and is to advocate the use of Free Software and improve his presence around the world.
By founding this organisation, Richard Stallman decided to define Free Software once for all, by creating four laws, which need to apply to a piece of software in order to be defined “Free Software”.
- The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
Even though he was struggling to build a kernel (the main component in an Operating System), GNU was growing and the main utilities were built, such as GCC (the most used compiler on Earth) and Emacs (one of the most famous editors in the software world). At the beginning of the 90s, a young programmer, whose name was Linus Torvalds, decided to integrate his own Kernel with the GNU’s utilities, by creating a new operating system for everyone, called GNU/Linux.
Today GNU/Linux is at the basis of more than fifty percent of the internet and there are millions of people who are using it. Richard Stallman is not a billionaire and he’s still fighting against proprietary software, because he believes in what he is doing.
The Free Software Movement has become one of the biggest in the software world and it is still expanding. There are dozens of programmers around the world who are still contributing to what Richard Stallman started without earning anything, but just because they want to.
Entrepreneurship is not just about money, but it’s about believing in something and trying to achieve it. There should be more people like Richard Stallman, who is an innovator and a visionary and less people who look for easy money in the software industry. Proprietary software has expanded in a much faster way because it involved the use of money and advertising, instead the Free Software Movement did everything for free; giving us the most reliable operating system in the world.
Money is the last thing you want to think about, when you believe in something.