I was 15 when I first read the GPL. Instantly, I knew this was something important. My life was changed that day when I got involved, 10 years ago. It was one thing right and true and good when nothing else seemed to be in those topsy teenage times, and I wanted to be there when it changed the world for the better.
I started by spending all my time around these people engineering the ship from scratch, soaking up whatever I could. Zealots, the hackers around back then all seemed to be masters. I was in awe. LinuxNet 4-ever.
I was going to become a master too, someday. And I needed to be able to contribute to have hope of conversing with these people who were fast becoming my heros. They favored production above everything else, because momentum was all that mattered.
I learned Unix, then Perl, then C, then everything else. Memorized protocols I would never use and languages no one should have. Explored every inch, all the zeitgeist. There was so much to know, and every bit felt valuable.
I knew this thing, this movement, would never end and never stop. It couldn’t. That was built into the contract. Nobody could halt this train with no tracks - a ghost the giants could only swing at blindly, the only thing that had a chance of defeating them.
I learned to write programs because of the GPL. I became a hacker before I realized I could make it into a living.
Inspired by reading Snowcrash, by Neal Stephenson