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Stephen Fry punts free software

By   |  September 2, 2008

In one of the less likely combinations of talent, Stephen Fry has been called in to be part of the 25th anniversary of the GNU operating system. Fry, a popular humorist, actor and novelist features in a five-minute long film in which he explains the history of free software and its importance in the world.

In true style Fry is entertaining and offers one of the best – and most understandable – explanations of free software and the the GNU is not Unix philosophy.

The choice of Fry as a spokesperson for free software is interesting, giving his credentials as a “funny man” and very much British in his demeanor. Also interesting is the fact that just last week news broke that Microsoft had roped in Jerry Seinfeld, another comedian, to give its Vista operating system a promotional boost.

The Free Software Foundation is kicking off a month-long celebration of 25 years of GNU this year by releasing Fry’s Happy Birthday to GNU movie on the GNU website.

In the five-minute film, Fry compares the free software operating system to “good science” and contrasts it with the “kind of tyranny” imposed by the proprietary software produced by companies like Microsoft and Apple that it replaces. He encourages people to use free GNU/Linux distributions like
gNewSense and free software generally, for freedom’s sake.

“Stephen has generously donated his time to the cause of free software. His ability to communicate a technological and philosophical movement in terms of the basic principles of sharing and user freedom – ideas that everyone can
understand – will introduce a new and broader audience to the benefits of free software,” said Matt Lee, producer of the film.

Peter Brown, the FSF’s executive director, added: “We intend for the 25th anniversary to be more than just a reflection on the history of the free software movement, because despite all of the success brought about by the GNU system and other free software projects, we still need a determined effort to
replace or eliminate the proprietary applications, platforms, drivers and firmware that many users still run.

“In this light, the video of Stephen Fry is not just a celebration, but a rallying call for the work that still needs to be done.”

Brown says that during September there will be a number of other celebrations leading up to Software Freedom Day on September 20 and the GNU anniversary on September 27.


One Response to “Stephen Fry punts free software”

  1. keith
    September 2nd, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

    He has “form”… he did a nice write up of the Asus EEE in the UK Guardian newspaper a while back and touched on OSS.

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