What is FAIFzilla?

FAIFzilla is the "no-frills" online version of Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software. It is maintained by me, Sam Williams, and is just one of many versions of Free as in Freedom you can find online or in bookstores.

For example, you can view frills-included online version on the O'Reilly company website.

According to the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, the copyright chosen for Free as in Freedom, readers are free to copy, redistribute and modify the text content of the book, provided they adhere to certain conditions outlined in the GFDL. Faifzilla is my own authorial attempt to take advantage of this freedom.

The text content of this website is identical to the text content of the O'Reilly book available in bookstores. Although it doesn't contain the photographs, fonts and cover artwork of the original book, it is free, both in terms of price and use. It costs nothing to read, and you, the reader, are within your rights to make, print or send copies of this book to your friends. I am hoping readers will take full advantage of this latter freedom -- in addition to buying copies of the book, of course -- because encouraging readers to share electronic works in the same spirit they currently share physical books is one of the primary goals of the GFDL.

The GFDL has other goals, which is another reason why I created this site. The GFDL is, in essence, a literary analog to the GNU General Public License. It gives the user [in the case, the reader] the right to make derivative versions of a work with or without the permission of the original author. The resulting derivatives must carry the same GFDL protection, however.

For more information on what constitutes a "derivative work," I recommend you consult the GFDL. As a courtesy to the reader, we have provided a copy of the GFDL in the final Appendix of this book.

The GFDL mainly applies to technical and reference books, but given the subject matter of this book, the life story of Richard Stallman and the history of the free software movement, I see no reason not to extend it to a work of non-fiction. No book is perfect, and I am sure many readers will find portions of the book that can be improved either through revision or the addition of new material. I welcome any and all feedback.

I also welcome readers to copy the HTML source files and make their own derivative versions of the book if that is what they prefer. Starting June 1, 2002, I myself will begin issuing revised "upgrades" of this book on this same site. My intention is to expand the book, folding in new stories and story elements related to the life of Richard Stallman and the free software movement as a whole.

As the title of this site suggests, I am attempting to follow in the footsteps of the free software/open source tradition. I envision FAIFzilla as an evolving literary project similar to Mozilla in the Internet browser marketplace. Just as Netscape periodically dips into the Mozilla project to create commercial versions of its Web browser, I am hoping that O'Reilly and Associates, or any other motivated publisher, will someday see fit to dip into this site and pull out future versions of Free as in Freedom.

Although not a hacker, I have covered the free software movement for several years. In the course of doing so, I have come to a basic understanding of its rules and customs. I have noticed that the best free software projects walk a tighrope in terms of managerial control. Creators who surrender the most power to the community are the ones who tend to get the most buy-in. They are also the ones who, paradoxically, have the greatest say in determining the future direction of their work. Consider my decision to employ the GFDL an attempt to take advantage of this paradox.

As the initial author of Free as in Freedom, I have the most to gain if the book achieves recognition and the most to lose if it falls into obscurity. I am willing to do whatever it takes to encourage the former outcome, even if it means letting other authors take control of this work. At the same time, I am hoping such authors will see both the book and this website as a good faith attempt to play by the community's rules and they will solicit my input when revising its text.

For those of you who have just come to read a good story, I thank you for stopping by. The life story of Richard M. Stallman is an interesting one to read and an even more interesting story to write. I think you'll like what you find in the coming pages.


Sam Williams
March 7, 2002
Brooklyn, N.Y.

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