Aftermath from the Stallman lecture

So I had the maybe weird pleasure to see this lecture two days ago. I went primarily not because I wanted to know so much about free software, but rather for reasons such as I think Richard M. Stallman () is someone you have to at least witness once. Especially when you are involved in this open source (he objects to this term) thing.

About RMS – there is literally too much on the Internet already to really sit there with no expectations or second thoughts.

RICHARD M. STALLMAN All in all I had a pretty entertaining evening. Roughly three hours were over in no time, which in my opinion is always a compliment for the speaker. I twittered the entire lecture, if you care you need to browse my Twitter for that.

He started off by explaining the basics – Free (GNU) and Non-Free. Explained the four freedoms, which are to run/use software as you wish, to adjust software, to (re-)distribute, including your “adjusted” copy, and to contribute to the software. During the evening he basically came back to those citing examples why Free is what we should aim for and Non-Free is not.

He then briefly went over the license () used for free software and explained the basics of . I think I found this part particularly interesting because licenses are generally a book of seven seals and he managed to explain the reasoning behind the GPL really well.

He also once more iterated about the issue of the naming of the operating system, Linux vs. GNU – when Linus Torvalds wrote a Kernel for GNU and now people mistakenly call what is supposed to be called GNU, Linux. Though he’s fine with GNU/Linux (“GNU slash Linux”) because it gives credit to everyone involved.

So without diving more geekery and tech-talk – he objects all forms of non-free. Even GNU/Linux-distributions (haha) which contain a little of the so called closed source software (often in form of binary drivers) are not free, but non-free. It’s as easy as that. And to be honest I had hoped for a little grey, but apparently it’s very black and white – good and evil – there is no fading.

In the end RMS introduced his other identity (so he says), which is Saint Egnusius of the Church of . Pretty funny, but More like geek fun. I can already see people rolling eyes, when I call this funny. So you didn’t read that.

Last but not least – time for Q&A. Well, almost. He managed to not let anyone else speak. People were cut off all the time while they were asking a question which was either not accurate or plain wrong – according to the star of the evening. I had really hoped for this part of the evening and found this part of the session to be extremely narrow-minded. Time for an exchange? Rather a wasted opportunity and all because his ego didn’t fit into the room.

3 Comments so far

  1. Jan (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2008 @ 10:24 am

    "[…] I think Richard M. Stallman (RMS) is someone you have to at least witness once."

    I’d say he is someone you have to at most witness once.

  2. William Thirteen (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2008 @ 9:44 am
  3. Paul McNamara (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2008 @ 4:14 pm

    And now he’s giving up the reins of GNU Emacs. After 32 years, the message last night from Stallman couldn’t possibly have been more matter of fact: "Stefan and Yidong offered to take over, so I am willing to hand over Emacs development to them."

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