Stallman: Free software battling for hearts and minds

Stallman: Free software battling for hearts and minds

Summary: Interview: Richard Stallman on the ethics of free software and fighting the mega-corporations...


...reply to the sender explaining that you're not going to read the file and it should be re-sent in "a format that isn't bad for society".

"Through the practice of sending Word files, Microsoft turns the network effect to its advantage. If someone is sending Word files, that somebody is saying to everybody else 'be a Microsoft user'. Well, that's a bad thing to say. Those people should stop doing that. Every time someone sends me a Word file, that's an opportunity to influence that person, so I do my best and it's been years since I even tried to look at a Word file," he added.

Barriers to free software adoption

Another obstacle is that many devices don't work without proprietary software or, even if they can run something like GNU/Linux, require proprietary drivers.

Stallman said pressure needs to be exerted on technology companies to publish specs for these drivers. "If they just publish the specs and tell the purchasers of their products how to use those products, then there are people in our community who will write free drivers," he said.

Legal restrictions - such as those censoring free software for playing DVDs in the US and much of Europe - are also limiting adoption of free software.

"Basically, software that can break digital handcuffs is censored. Digital handcuffs - or the malicious features found in proprietary software to restrict the user - are fundamentally evil. They are a nasty practice and our governments, by taking the side of the perpetrators of that nasty practice against the public, have demonstrated how they have betrayed the public to the empire of the mega-corporations. Those governments are governments of occupation set up by the empire."

A lack of awareness in the technology community

The obstacles to the free software movement aren't all from outside forces. People in the technology industry don't think about software in terms of freedom, according to Stallman. The influence of open source means there is less awareness of free software as a concept.

"So what open-source supporters tell them is that this is a development methodology for getting better quality code. So they think the only thing at stake is the quality of code and how convenient the program is. No one ever said to them they deserve some kind of freedom, that they should control the software they're using, control the computing they're doing," he said.

This mindset means people don't...

Topics: Apps, Software Development

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  • yeah! all we want free software