Richard Stallman Speaks on the State of Free Software, and Answers Questions

Richard Stallman celebrated his 69th birthday last month. And Wednesday, he gave a 92-minute presentation called “The State of the Free Software Movement.”

Stallman began by thanking everyone who’s contributed to free software, and encouraged others who want to help to visit “The Free Software movement is universal, and morally should not exclude anyone. Because even though there are crimes that should be punished, cutting off someone from contributing to free software punishes the world. Not that person.”

And then he began by noting some things that have gotten better in the free software movement, including big improvements in projects like GNU Emacs when displaying external packages. (And in addition, “GNU Health now has a hospital management facility, which should make it applicable to a lot more medical organizations so they can switch to free software. And [Skype alternative] GNU Jami got a big upgrade.”)

What’s getting worse? Well, the libre-booted machines that we have are getting older and scarcer. Finding a way to support something new is difficult, because Intel and AMD are both designing their hardware to subjugate people. If they were basically haters of the public, it would be hard for them to do it much worse than they’re doing.

And Macintoshes are moving towards being jails, like the iMonsters. It’s getting harder for users to install even their own programs to run them. And this of course should be illegal. It should be illegal to sell a computer that doesn’t let users install software of their own from source code. And probably shouldn’t allow the computer to stop you from installing binaries that you get from others either, even though it’s true in cases like that, you’re doing it at your own risk. But tying people down, strapping them into their chairs so that they can’t do anything that hurts themselves — makes things worse, not better. There are other systems where you can find ways to trust people, that don’t depend on being under the power of a giant company.

We’ve seen problems sometimes where supported old hardware gets de-supported because somebody doesn’t think it’s important any more — it’s so old, how could that matter? But there are reasons…why old hardware sometimes remains very important, and people who aren’t thinking about this issue might not realize that…

Stallman also had some advice for students required by their schools to use non-free software like Zoom for their remote learning. “If you have to use a non-free program, there’s one last thing… which is to say in each class session, ‘I am bitterly ashamed of the fact that I’m using Zoom for this class.’ Just that. It’s a few seconds. But say it each time…. And over time, the fact that this is really important to you will sink in.”

And then halfway through, Stallman began taking questions from the audience…

Read on for Slashdot’s report on Stallman’s remarks, or jump ahead to…
How far should copyright law go? That NPM package that deleted files in Russia Does the free software world need more videogames? Stallman’s upcoming manual for ‘GNU C’ Free Software’s role in protecting our planet’s environment

Read more of this story at Slashdot.