This last week, the fine folk at the Virtusa Open Source SIG organized an event to celebrate the Software Freedom Day where my good friends Mifan and Suchetha made keynotes. Also in attendance was Arunan, so it was a re-union of sorts with some old friends. It’s been a while since I have participated in anything open source / free software, and it was great to see the old flame is still alive at Virtusa, and I hope it helps in shaping their worldviews and brings as much purpose to them as it did to me more than 10 years ago.
The last SFD I attended was in 2008. I blogged about it here with some photos available in my surprisingly-still-around flickr account. It was in Chinatown in Boston and I drove up from Pennsylvania, mostly to get my mind off things. It was there that I purchased a copy of “Free Software, Free Society”, a collection of essays by Richard Stallman. Five years later, I picked up the dusty book from my shelf and re-read the GNU manifesto, to get my mind back to the core principles.
It was there, as I was flipping through the pages, that I saw RMS in a whole new light. His uncompromising tenacity in the face of control and oppression and unfaltering stance on ethics and morality of freedom. He is a true freedom fighter. His message sometimes gets lost in all the pandemonium we go through daily but the spirit of the freedom he preached is very much alive every time we believe that knowledge should be free and that everybody should have access to it. I hope this message continues to inspire folks for years to come.
It was a very eventful weekend. For one thing, the FSF associate member’s meeting was being held at MIT on Saturday. I’m not a fan of social events, but as it turns out, geek hangouts are where I thrive. Made the long and arduous journey to Boston with Supun, a colleague of mine and a free software aficionado, and took the subway to Kendall/MIT. It was a very pleasant day, perfect for some good ol’ curbside hackin’.
The turn out at the meeting was pretty good, and there were some FSF merchandise right outside and I promptly bought a couple of books. Scanning the lounge for familiar faces, I quickly noticed Niibe walking over. Niibe came over to Sri Lanka and participated in a Code Fest held at Virtusa as part of the sixth Asia Open Source Symposium. Niibe is well known for his efforts on the Linux kernel SuperH port.
One of the speakers was the venerable MIT professor Gerald Jay Sussman, who invented the Scheme programming language along with Guy Steele Jr, one of his former students. It was a very interesting talk titled “Software is never finished”.
Eben Moglen followed soon afterwards, followed by Richard Stallman. RMS spoke about the evils of DRM and the new provisions introduced to counter it in GPLv3.
After the presentation, I managed to have a little chat with him in the lounge area, and when I mentioned the LKLUG he was quick to point out that a name change was in order. You can trust RMS not to miss that one. There was a long and heated LKLUG mail thread on this same issue way back in 2004. Thanks to lurker, I’ve managed to dig it up.
Some photographs of the event can be found here.