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I want to tell you a story.

No, not the story of how, in 1991, Linus Torvalds wrote the first version of the Linux ker- nel. You can read that story in lots of Linux books. Nor am I going to tell you the story of how, some years earlier, Richard Stallman began the GNU Project to create a free Unix- like operating system. That's an important story too, but most other Linux books have that one, as well.

No, I want to tell you the story of how you can take back control of your computer.

When I began working with computers as a college student in the late 1970s, there was a revolution going on. The invention of the microprocessor had made it possible for ordi- nary people like you and me to actually own a computer. It's hard for many people today to imagine what the world was like when only big business and big government ran all the computers. Let's just say, you couldn't get much done.

Today, the world is very different. Computers are everywhere, from tiny wristwatches to giant data centers to everything in between. In addition to ubiquitous computers, we also have a ubiquitous network connecting them together. This has created a wondrous new age of personal empowerment and creative freedom, but over the last couple of decades something else has been happening. A few giant corporations have been imposing their control over most of the world's computers and deciding what you can and cannot do with them. Fortunately, people from all over the world are doing something about it. They are fighting to maintain control of their computers by writing their own software. They are building Linux.

Many people speak of “freedom” with regard to Linux, but I don't think most people know what this freedom really means. Freedom is the power to decide what your com- puter does, and the only way to have this freedom is to know what your computer is do - ing. Freedom is a computer that is without secrets, one where everything can be known if you care enough to find out.


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