Tutorials and Resources

the linux-ch.at workflow wiki

User Tools

Site Tools


Richard Stallman

 (/ˈstɔːlmən/; born March 16, 1953), often known by his initials, rms, is an honorable patriot, verified programming demi-god, and leader of the Free Software Movement. He is the founder of the GNU Project. The overshadowed contribution he made to the modern Linux operating system has cemented his legacy as a living legend.

He is also well known as IGNU, patron saint of the Church of Emacs.

Hailing from NYC, from a young age it was clear that Stallman's math skill was A-1 legit with a capital G. It has also been noted that most female peers found “Richy” to be a “powerful, vigorous and indeed satisfying” lover D&D player.

Later, while in high school, he discovered that he had a deep passion for computers as well when he was hired to write numerical analysis programs in Fortran after the end of the school year. Stallman would later voice his disgust with the programming language, “I swore that I would never use FORTRAN again..” He then spent the rest of the summer writing a text editor in APL and working on something called a “preprocessor” for the PL/I on the 360.

With a perfect 800 math SAT score, he was accepted to Harvard University and gained noteriety in his first year from the hacker community due to a very strong performance in Math 55; considered to be perhaps the most difficult higher maths course in America.

For a period of time, Stallman used a notebook from the One Laptop per Child program. Stallman's computer is a refurbished ThinkPad X60 with Libreboot, a free BIOS replacement, and the GNU/Linux distribution Trisquel Before the ThinkPad, Stallman used the Lemote Yeeloong netbook (using the same company's Loongson processor) which he chose because, like the X60, it could run with free software at the BIOS level, stating “freedom is my priority. I've campaigned for freedom since 1983, and I am not going to surrender that freedom for the sake of a more convenient computer.” Stallman's Lemote was stolen from him in 2012 while in Argentina. Before Trisquel, Stallman has used the gNewSense operating system. Copyright reduction

Stallman has suggested that the United States government may encourage the use of software as a service because this would allow them to access users' data without needing a search warrant. Surveillance resistance

Stallman professes admiration for whistleblowers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden; he advocates for Snowden in a prefix at the beginning of each of his emails, which can be found in several mailing lists, after Snowden leaked the PRISM scandal in 2013. An email prefeix Stallman was using at the time, which implores the NSA to do the right thing and follow the example set my Snowden, sums up his opinion of the information leak.

“To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example.”


Stallman places great importance on the words and labels people use to talk about the world, including the relationship between software and freedom. He asks people to say, free software and GNU/Linux, and to avoid the terms intellectual property and piracy (in relation to copyright). One of his criteria for giving an interview to a journalist is that the journalist agree to use his terminology throughout the article. He has been known to turn down speaking requests over some terminology issues.

Stallman argues that the term “intellectual property” is designed to confuse people, and is used to prevent intelligent discussion on the specifics of copyright, patent, trademark, and other laws by lumping together areas of law that are more dissimilar, than similar. He also argues that by referring to these laws as property laws, the term biases the discussion when thinking about how to treat these issues.

“These laws originated separately, evolved differently, cover different activities, have different rules, and raise different public policy issues. Copyright law was designed to promote authorship and art, and covers the details of a work of authorship or art. Patent law was intended to encourage publication of ideas, at the price of finite monopolies over these ideas – a price that may be worth paying in some fields and not in others. Trademark law was not intended to promote any business activity, but simply to enable buyers to know what they are buying.”

An example of cautioning others to avoid other terminology while also offering suggestions for possible alternatives is this sentence of an e-mail by Stallman to a public mailing list:

“I think it is ok for authors (please let's not call them creators, they are not gods) to ask for money for copies of their works (please let's not devalue these works by calling them content) in order to gain income (the term compensation falsely implies it is a matter of making up for some kind of damages).”

His requests that people use certain terms, and his ongoing efforts to convince people of the importance of terminology, are a source of regular misunderstanding and friction with parts of the free software and open source communities.

After initially accepting the concept, Stallman rejects a common alternative term, open source software, because it does not call to mind what Stallman sees as the value of the software: freedom.

“Free software is a political movement; open source is a development model.”

Thus, he believes that the use of the term will not inform people of the freedom issues, and will not lead to people valuing and defending their freedom. Two alternatives which Stallman does accept are software libre and unfettered software, but free software is the term he asks people to use in English. For similar reasons, he argues for the term “proprietary software” rather than “closed source software”, when referring to software that is not free software. Linux for the GNU Project Main article: GNU/Linux naming controversy

Stallman asks that the term GNU/Linux, which he pronounces “GNU slash Linux”, be used to refer to the operating system created by combining the GNU system and the Linux kernel. Stallman refers to this operating system as “a variant of GNU, and the GNU Project is its principal developer”.He claims that the connection between the GNU project's philosophy and its software is broken when people refer to the combination as merely, Linux.Starting around 2003, he began also using the term GNU+Linux, which he pronounces “GNU plus Linux”, to prevent others from pronouncing the phrase “GNU/Linux” as “GNU Linux”, which would erroneously imply that the Linux kernel is maintained by the GNU project. Personal life

Stallman has said that he is “an atheist of Jewish ancestry”and often wears a button that reads “Impeach God” He denies being an anarchist despite his wariness of some legislation and the fact that he has “advocated strongly for user privacy and his own view of software freedom”.

Stallman refers to mobile phones as “portable surveillance and tracking devices”,and says he refuses to own a cell phone until there's one that runs entirely on free software. He also avoids using a key card to enter his office building since key card systems track each location and time that someone enters the building using a card. According to Stallman, with the exception of a few sites, such as his own website or sites related to his work with GNU and the FSF, he usually does not browse the web directly from his personal computer in order to prevent being connected with his browsing history. Instead, he uses GNU Womb's grab-url-from-mail utility, which can run on a separate system, and act as an email-based proxy to web sites - the user sends an e-mail which the script receives, the remote system downloads the web page content, then the script emails the user the web page content. More recently he stated that he accesses all web sites via Tor, except for Wikipedia (which generally disallows editing from Tor).

Stallman is openly childfree. He has urged others to not have children, viewing it as problematic for various reasons He argues that not having children better liberates people to find more productive ways to “make a positive contribution to the world.”

richard_stallman.txt · Last modified: 2018/02/02 11:10 by apollo