Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why are you doing this?

To get an idea of my own personal reasons, motives and objectives in regards to this site, please visit Introduction to FAIFzilla.

2. What do you mean by "no frills?"

By "no frills," I mean no images [.jpeg or .gif], no proprietary fonts, no browser-specific tags, no Java applets, no Flash, no CGI/Perl tricks. Nothing to bog down your home modem and nothing to expose my lack of coding skills. Just simple, honest-to-goodness home-cooked HTML the way mom used to make it.

I do reserve the right to change this policy. For those willing to help out, I will be posting an extensive wish list page, including all the reader-friendly features I would like to integrate into this site.

3. Why no pictures?

During the writing of Free as in Freedom, it was unclear exactly how the GFDL applied to photographic images. The two photos of Stallman which appear in the book, i.e. Stallman at his terminal and Stallman dressed in his "St. Ignucius" outfit, were both borrowed from the website. Both photos are protected by prior copyright, and though I secured written permission from the photographers who took them, I'm still a bit leery to fold them into the GFDL-protected content of this book.

Since publication of this book, the Free Software Foundation has released an updated version of its GNU Free Documentation License which, I am told, deals with the issue of previously-copyrighted images. I have not reviewed this new version, however, and for the time being have decided to keep this site text-only.

I have other reasons: Reason No. 2 is that I consider the Internet primarily a text medium and view most online images as a waste of time and bandwidth. Reason No. 3 is that I prefer to focus on improving the textual content of this book, leaving the addition of photo images to future authors and publishers who might wish to make derivative commercial versions of Free as in Freedom.

4.How can I access a translated version of Free as in Freedom ?

At the moment of this writing, no translated versions of Free as in Freedom exist, so the best way to access a translated version of Free as in Freedom is to translate the book yourself and post it online. According to the GFDL, this is perfectly within your rights as a reader. The GFDL also allows you to copy and redistribute "officially" translated versions of the book. I have no knowledge of any translation deals between O'Reilly, the company that currently publishes the hardcover, English-language version of Free as in Freedom, and foreign publishers, but I have been contacted by various readers working on their own translation.

To find out more about ongoing translation efforts, please visit the Translation HowTo page.

5. Are their any versions of Free as in Freedom available a more interactive format -- i.e. LaTeX, Wiki, etc.

As soon as I posted the of FAIFzilla, a reader wrote in to tell me that he had converted the files to LaTex. Unfortunately, I lost the email with URL. If you are that reader, please re-send it and I will post a link to your site on the FAIFzilla home page. For all other readers, if you would like to convert FAIFzilla to a more interesting format, please let me know when you do so. I will post a link to your site, too. For the record, I am not against giving readers more power to edit the text of this site. Given my limited experience with other publishing formats and my extensive experience as a journalist, however, I prefer to stick with the centrally-controlled HTML format for now. My willingness to move away from this format can be manipulated, however, If parallel, interactive versions of FAIFzilla prove get more contributor buy-in, I will consider a format overhaul. Also, if I can get somebody to provide free hosting and the necessary software expertise, I someday hope to incorporate standard open source project tools such as CVS and Bugzilla. If you would like to help out with this effort, please contact me directly.

6. How do I report a typo or spelling error?

Step One: Go to the Reported Errors page and make sure nobody has reported the problem before you. Because the Web version is different from the book version, there is a chance the problem has already been fixed. Step Two: Send an email explaining the problem, the location and the suggested fix to If you stick to the reporting format used on the Reported Errors page, it'll speed my efforts to fix the problem. The first person to identify a particular typo gets credit for the fix and gets their name listed in the "Bug Zappers" section of the Authors page [not yet completed as of this writing, May 23, 2002].

7. How do I report a broken link?

For the moment, all external links appear in the "End Notes" section of each chapter, so to report a broken link, simply send me an email message denoting the chapter and end note number. The same goes for internal links -- links from the main text to a sideline discussion or end note, for example.

8. What if I want to suggest a link?

By all means do. I am planning to integrate links into the main body of the text. Given the rate of "link rot" on the Web, however, I will be very judicious. Editorially speaking, I'd rather link to edited works of journalism than private opinion essays. If you have an opinion essay you'd like to contribute as an item of sideline discussion and you are willing to let it be copyrighted under the GFDL, please send it in. I will post and link to it internally within the FAIFzilla site.

9. What if I want to rewrite a particular section of FAIFzilla?

The best way to suggest a rewrite is to send me an email highlighting the problem text and suggesting alternative text. If I accept the change, I will insert it as replacement text and give you proper credit on the Authors page. If I can challenge the change, I will still find a way to integrate it into the book, either as inserted text or as a sideline argument. Again, all authors whose words appear on this site will receive credit on the Authors page.

10. What if I want to add a chapter?

Go ahead. As owner and publisher of, I reserve the right to edit or veto all content on the site, but if you have something that fills in a glaring historical gap, I will gladly include it. Please consult the Wish List to get an idea of the editorial and production gaps I'm currently trying to fill.

11. What does Richard Stallman think about Free as in Freedom?

I cannot speak for Richard, but I can say that in our last telephone conversation he expressed displeasure with many sections of the book. He views the characterization of himself in some chapters as overly "prejudicial" and has requested a number of corrections to the final text. He has also requested, indirectly, that readers not present him with copies of the book in the hopes of getting an autograph. This seems like a reasonable request, in my opinion, seeing as he neither wrote the book nor had a say in the editorial process. If you would like Richard's autograph, it is best to approach him with a copy of his own work, e.g. the "GNU Manifesto," the "GNU General Public License" or source code from one of the many programs he has written over the years.

12.Will RMS have an editorial say as to how FAIFzilla evolves?

Yes and no. Richard has reviewed the site and has sent me several lengthy sections of corrected text. I am already crediting him as a contributing author in the FAIFzilla 1.1 version. My guess, however, is that Richard will continue to distance himself from the work. Free as in Freedom, the book, is an unauthorized biography and, the online version of that book, will remain as such.

That said, I would like to see FAIFzilla become the most trusted historical resource until Stallman himself takes time to write his own autobiography. Hopefully, with enough effort and diligence, we can make that autobiography easier to write.

13. I would like to reward you for giving me free access to this online version of Free as in Freedom. How can I do that?

The best way to pay me back for publishing FAIFzilla is to help me improve it. If you spot an error or section in need of correction, please direct it to my attention and I will fix it. Monetary donations are unnecessary. If you believe in voting with your dollars, euros or whatever, I suggest buying a copy of the book from O'Reilly and Associates, Inc. They are the ones who made this site possible, and they are the ones who have taken the most risk in publishing this book under the GFDL. Hopefully, by contributing to the bottom line of the original publishing house, you will be sending the message to the entire publishing industry that liberal copyrights in the online publishing realm can boost, rather than undermine, actual book sales.

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