Posted on December 2, 2015 by Nke Yapo

Today, technology has become an integral part of our everyday life. However, this digital lifestyle also gives rise to the breach of our rights such as privacy, copyright, and so on. In the midst of those important challenges, as a tireless defender, Richard Matthew Stallman justified the meaning of his engagement by the following assertion. “I’m trying to do what I can to make things better. I’m trying to give something to society because I’m a part of society…”, he explained during an interview to Electronic Design magazine.(“Richard Stallman” 112). My admiration for Richard Matthew Stallman is based on his excellent ability to write code, his activism and his benevolent personality.

First, Richard Matthew Stallman, well known as RMS, is a very bright computer scientist and an outstanding hacker. In her article published by Toronto Star, Judy Steed mentioned that “Stallman is seen by many as possessing one of the brightest programming minds.”(“Steed”). She also said that Richard created “one of the world’s most influential text editors”(“Steed”).For instance, he made some popular and useful programs such as Emacs(an extensible, customizable text editor) and GNU Compiler Collection. Also, certain hackers and he worked on the kernel of the free operating system called GNU/Linux. In order to encourage people who make a significant improvement for a better world, the MacArthur Foundation gave an award to Stallman in 1990 (MacArthur Foundation).

Second, he has a positive impact as an activist for software freedom. My hero thought that Unix, proprietary operating system, did not allow users to access the source code of the program andforbid them to make changes. To remove this barrier, he launched the GNU project – GNU is Not Unix. “In the early 1980s, Richard Stallman called on hackers to fight their oppressors by helping him create a free clone of Unix”(“Daniel Lyons”108). Then, my hero found the movement labeled FSF(Free Software Foundation) three decades ago. The main purpose of his organization is to protect and guarantee the freedoms of users. Since then, about over 6.500 free-software programs have been created by person or communities of hackers.(“Free Software Foundation”) For him, people have the fundamental right respectively to run the software freely, to study or access the source code of the program, to change the source code, and to redistribute copies.

Third, Stallman demonstrates his benevolent personality. Unlike many great hackers who work or run their own businesses to obtain a huge income, he has dedicated his entire life to cross the world for the promotion of his philosophy via free conferences and trainings. According to the FSF bulletin, in only six months, he delivered forty speeches in thirty different cities, including Mexico, Fribourg, Bhopal, etc.(“Issue 27 Nov 2015”, 9). In addition, Stallman resigned his job at the MIT Lab to work full-time as an hacker for his dream in 1984 (Steed).

In conclusion, when I meet Mr Stallman in March 2016 at the annual LibrePlanet conference, it will be a real privilege for me to share a short time with an excellent hacker for some important reasons: computer code writing, his engagement and his generosity. His list of his achievements includes the creation of Emacs, the promotion of free-software and copyleft, and the GNU/Linux – the free OS. One day, the entire world will be proud to have Stallman as a digital hero.