Richard Stallman

I met Software Freedom founder, evangelist and co-creator of the GNU, Richard Stallman today.

Richard Stallamn

Richard Stallman, President of the FSF

The night started with people from the Australian Computer Foundation (and people, like myself, not from the Australian Computer Foundation) gathering at Tenison Woods College. I was kinda disappointed that I was the only one (I think) around my age there.

Everyone mingled and chatted (Except for me, I was reading up on Xstrata and their alleged lead poisoning of Mount Isa) to mingle much. That and I’m introverted and afraid of people. Eventually Stallman rocked up bearing some stuff for sale and a bag to give away. I wish I had had some cash on me because he was selling some pins which would have gone nicely in my Fedora. I’m vain, shoot me.

Eventually we all moved into the lecture room and sat down. There was a short introduction by some ACS reps and then Stallman got into his lecture on what free software is.

…Free speech, not Free beer…

His lecture consisted of a few main points: Software should be able to be passed on and shared, Users should have control over the software (As opposed to software having control of how the user uses the software), Users should be able to modify the software and distribute the modified software and that these users should be able to study the software and see how it works. He calls these the four freedoms, from Freedom 0 to Freedom 4.

He covered a lot, but it all related to these four things throughout the speech.

He is a pretty interesting, intelligent fellow, and his ideas are obviously pretty anti-establishment. I agree with most of what he says. I do disagree with his belief that propriety software is unethical; I think that software developers are well within their right to ask users to pay for features they built and users are well within their right to tell developers to shove it and use something without – Stallman’s term – Handcuffs.

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