Free Software Award Finalists, 1998

See the nominees or the citation of winner Larry Wall.

The First Annual Free Software Foundation Award for the Advancement of Free Software

MIT Media Lab
Friday, October 9, 1998


The Apache Project is a collaborative software development effort aimed at creating a robust, commercial-grade, featureful, and freely-available source code implementation of an HTTP (Web) server.

Apache has demonstrated that free software can be the best available in open (market) competition, measured by commercial standards of quality, and that an open, distributed development process can produce such software. While there are many other pieces of commercial-quality free software available, I believe Apache is unique in both being clearly preferred to its commercial competitors and having been developed in a relatively decentralized manner.

Donald J. Becker was nominated for network device drivers for GNU/Linux, and for the Beowulf project.

He is a Staff Scientist with the Center of Excellence in Space Data and Information Sciences. CESDIS is part of the University Space Research Association, a non-profit consortium of universities that funds space-related university research and runs research groups such as RIACS and ICASE. He is also the principal investigator on the Beowulf Project, an effort to develop a software distribution to help others build high-performance workstations based on a cluster of off-the-shelf processing nodes running GNU/Linux.

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, an internet-based hypermedia initiative for global information sharing. He directs the World Wide Web (W3) Consortium, an open forum of companies and organizations with the mission to realize the full potential of the Web.

In the course of history, Hypertext and the concept of a universal document and linking system has been invented dozens of times. Tim's unique contribution was enabled by, and indisputably demonstrated, the inexorable power of free software. Upon this infrastructure, the World Wide Web came into being, and more than anything else, changed the world's perception of the intrinsic value of free software.

L. Peter Deutsch was nominated for Ghostscript, an interpreter for the PostScript (TM) language. A PostScript interpreter usually takes as input a set of graphics commands. The output is usually a page bitmap which is then sent to an output device such as a printer or display. PostScript is embedded in many printers.

Ghostscript is the base of virtually all GNU/Linux (and possibly other free OS) printing systems.

Jordan Hubbard was one of the founders of the FreeBSD Project and is its public relations officer and release engineer, as well as President and CEO of FreeBSD, Inc. “Number One cat herder.” FreeBSD is an advanced BSD Unix operating system for “PC-compatible” computers.

Jordan Hubbard will chair the FREENIX track at USENIX '99 in Monterey, CA on June 6-11, 1999.

Donald Knuth, one of the acknowledged fathers of computer science, was nominated for his TeX typesetting system and his technique of ‘literate programming.’ “His special contribution is that he explained a large program that does “real life” work.” His books include The Art of Computer Programming, Literate Programming, and Digital Typography. He is Professor Emeritus of The Art of Computer Programming at Stanford University.

In 1974 Donald Knuth won the Turing Award, the ACM's most prestigious technical award. In 1996 he received the Kyoto Prize, Japan's highest private award for lifetime achievement, the closest thing to a Nobel Prize in computer science.

Ted Lemon was nominated for his work with the Internet Software Consortium. The ISC is a nonprofit corporation for the implementation of publicly-available code for key portions of the Internet infrastructure. Its current programs include widely-used implementations of the Domain Name System (BIND), Netnews (INN) and the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). Ted Lemon is Architect and programmer on ISC DHCP, which automates most of the management of IP addresses on client machines, and he participates actively in the support list for that product.

Ted is excellent at considering the suggestions for changes in the software and incorporating those which will make the product more useful, while keeping the code base “rock solid” and making sure that everything complies with the pertinent RFCs. If more people worked through an idea before releasing the product the way Ted does, computer software would be much more reliable and would interact with other software and hardware more easily.

Brian Paul is the author of the Mesa 3D graphics library. Mesa uses the OpenGL API (Application Programming Interface). Most applications written for OpenGL can use Mesa instead without changing the source code. Mesa was originally designed for Unix/X11 systems and is still best supported on those systems. Others have contributed drivers for the Amiga, Apple Macintosh, BeOS, NeXT, OS/2, MS-DOS, VMS, and Windows 95/NT.

Brian Paul now works at Avid Technology in Tewksbury, Mass., but his work there is not associated with Mesa. He was formerly employed at the Space Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin — Madison.

Eric S. Raymond was nominated for his writings, especially his essay “The Cathedral and the Bazaar.” This paper was described by Netscape Communications, Inc., as a major factor in their decision to release their client software as “open source”.

He is also editor of The New Hackers' Dictionary; principal researcher and author of Portable C and Unix Systems Programming; programmer of “C-INTERCAL”, an INTERCAL-to-C compiler; principal co-developer of ncurses, a freeware screen-handling library with an API compatible with System V curses(3); co-curator of the Retrocomputing Museum; and Technical Director of the Chester County Internet Link (CCIL).

He “defined what it means to be Open Source” and was “single-handedly responsible for Netscape going open source.” “His fetchmail program (not to mention that delightful Intercal to C translator :) ) is a great goodness.”

Henry Spencer is a widely quoted Unix systems programmer who developed robust and widely used software to handle regular expressions.

He ran the first Usenet site in Canada, and is well-known as a Usenet contributor in many areas, notably the space and C groups. He and David Lawrence wrote Managing Usenet. He also wrote The Ten Commandments For C Programmers, and the “regular expressions” chapter for Software Solutions in C.

He has written various pieces of freely-available software: the public-domain getopt, the first redistributable string library, the widely-used redistributable regular-expression library, the 4.4BSD POSIX regular-expression library, the awf text formatter, etc. He and Geoff Collyer wrote C News, one of the two major software packages for network news transport and storage.

Larry Wall was nominated for his many contributions to the advancement of freely distributed software, most notably Perl, a robust scripting language for sophisticated text manipulation and system management. His other widely-used programs include rn (news reader), patch (development and distribution tool), metaconfig (a program that writes Configure scripts), and the Warp space-war game.

… Perl, a tool that takes the Unix ideas of flexibility and portability further than almost any program before it. Perl is probably the most powerful and widely applicable GNU program.

Larry Wall has always promoted keeping his implementations free for all to study, enhance, and build on, without restrictions, and the freedom for all to benefit in whatever ways they can from his products.