RMS Interview: Free Software as a Social Movement

For your pre-Christmas reading, and to possibly evade the stress this season usually brings, ZNet carries a very interesting interview with Richard Stallman, titled "Free Software as a Social Movement". For those familiar with his writings, much will be familiar, but it is a good summary and reference for newcomers.

It also seems to contain some new insights, like RMS no longer calling "Open Source" a movement of its own, separate from Free Software:

    The ideas of Torvalds led by 1996 to a division in the community on goals. One group was for freedom, the other for powerful and reliable software. There were regular public arguments. In 1998 the other camp chose the term "open source' to describe their position. "Open source' is not a movement, in my view. It is, perhaps, a collection of ideas, or a campaign. 

I do not know for sure how much of these ideas really came from Linus Torvalds, and how much was contributed by Bruce Perens, Eric Raymond, Tim O’Reilly and others. But I think this is a much more adequate description of the difference between "Free Software" and "Open Source" than referring to them as different movements.


Even more remarkable is that the ZNet responsibles seem to have read and understood Richards points, and his explanation why ZNet themselves should use Free Software, as the article carries the following note on top and bottom of the page:

    ZNet has begun to explore the possibility of converting to free software. If you would like to help in this effort, please go to the Free ZNet Project forums, register, and introduce yourself. 


Excellent! It would be worth helping them if you can. So if you feel like helping them migrate to Free Software, check out their Free ZNet Project forums.

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About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is CEO and President of the Board at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV for collaboration and communication, also available as Swiss hosted service Kolab Now. During his 20+ year career in Free and Open Source Software he has been author of the Brave GNU World, one of the most widely spread columns on the subject, founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and provided input to various governmental and inter-governmental organisations. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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2 Responses to RMS Interview: Free Software as a Social Movement

  1. schiessle says:


    …a very interesting interview.
    Stallman said that he calls Nvidia “NVidious”. Can someone explain this wordplay? Unfortunately my English isn’t good enough to understand it. Maybe it has something to do with the word “invidious”?

  2. greve says:


    I assume you are looking for a German translation.

    Leo translates it into: ärgerlich, boshaft, fies, garstig, gehässig, gemein, verhasst, verletzend.

    So all in all a pretty fair description of NVidias practice of publishing proprietary drivers only.

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