Richard Stallman Speaks

khess 3 Tallied Votes 1K Views Share

I had the honor and pleasure of speaking to Richard Stallman a few days ago while he was in New Zealand on a speaking tour. I had been in an email conversation with him over several days asking about which software programs he uses and I finally connected with him for some clarification and more details. So, if you've ever wanted to get the scoop straight from the man himself, you'll want to listen to the podcast.

The conversation begins abruptly because the phone conversation is a continuation of that email dialog. We also got cut off at one point during the interview and I had to call back.
I found him to be very personable, articulate and a pleasure to speak with. He was very patient with my nervous fumbling and was quite happy to discuss free software, his software choices and even his choice of computer.

To begin, I wanted to know not just about free software and the movement but his personal choices and I got quite a surprise. He is definitely no hypocrite. He is so much of a free software advocate that he even chose his personal computer because of the type of BIOS it uses.

I personally feel that using only free software is very limiting and would be very difficult to successfully accomplish. Richard Stallman doesn't find it difficult at all.

After speaking with him, I wrote "What Free Software Means" and placed it over in the *nix Software forum. Our conversation has certainly changed the way I speak of free software and my perspective on the whole movement.

For the bits that we didn't get to in the phone call, here is the list of software that Richard Stallman uses on a daily basis:

Operating System: gNewSense
Email: Rmail
Editor: Emacs
PDF Viewer: xpdf
Audio: Audacity

He doesn't typically use a browser unless he views html offline. He only uses when someone sends him a file in those formats. My guess is that if you send him a proprietary file formatted file, he would either not open it or send you back a message stating that you need to convert the file to a free software alternative.

I liked speaking with him so much that I asked for another interview where we could actually have some time to sit down and do something in-depth. He agreed. He will be in southeast Asia next month and I'll catch up with him for that interview. Stay tuned for that one.

For more information on Richard Stallman, go to the Free Software Foundation site and

KonkaNok commented: cool interview +1
Member Avatar for dandart

I'd use free software completely if I could - but for me, I'd rather have my hardware work - but I might move to gnash. I have to have firmware for my wifi card... I can't think of anywhere else.

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Nice going, Ken. Great stuff.


zcat 0 Newbie Poster

I ran gnusense on my laptop for a month.

No wireless was a bit of a pain, and the video drivers were a bit messed up, but with a better chipset (not necessarily a lemote, I believe something like a lenovo works pretty well with only free software) these wouldn't have been a problem.

Gnash was hopeless (this was a while back, it may have improved) but I found that swfdec was just fine for watching flash videos and funny animations like weebls stuff. Even better than the Adobe flash plugin, because swfdec includes the ability to download the media.

In fact I got through all of planning WLUG's Software Freedom Day 2008 and demonstrating lots of Free software on the day itself using only Free software, and I really didn't find it all that restrictive at all.

What made me go back to my less-free Ubuntu was mostly the lack of video and wireless support (which is more a problem with not having chosen well supported hardware) and interactive flash games. If I can get a better laptop I do plan to move to Gnusense permanently.

wbmulia 0 Newbie Poster

The day after GCOS (Glabal Conferrence on Open Source) ends, Oct 28, there will be a Free (Bebas) Software event:

Richard M. Stallman, founder of the Free Software Movement (gerakan perangkat lunak bebas) and leader of development of the GNU operating system (with which the kernel Linux is typically used) will give a speech to explain the ethical and political ideas of free software, which are differ from the ideas of open source, and how GNU was developed to realize these ethical goals.

The talk, entitled: "The Free (Bebas) Software Movement and the GNU/Linux Operating System"

Host by: InfoLinux Magazine
Date/time : October 28th, 2009 / 9:00 - 11:30
Place : Auditorium, Gedung II BPPT 3rd Floor,
Jl. MH Thamrin 8, Jakarta 10340 Indonesia


sureronald 0 Junior Poster

I wonder whether the word "free" (not in price but freedom) would have been part of the software,OS and web development "dictionary" if it were not for this man (R.M.S).
This man is an inspiration.
Long live RMS, long live free software, long live FSF, long live GNU!!

Grepnix 0 Newbie Poster

Would have liked a listen but using Debian Lenny it hung with Iceweasel everytime I went to the podcast page :-(

khess 95 Practically a Master Poster

Sorry, if you have a problem listening with the embedded player, please download a copy of the podcast with the provided link. You might have to right click the link to grab it in certain browsers.

You are correct. RMS is a genius and I've had the honor to speak with him and am invited to speak with him again. I hope you'll all tune in for that one. He is truly one of the greats of our generation and of the Internet Age.

Grepnix 0 Newbie Poster


Don't know why but its working for me now... Perhaps I was just over impatient waiting for the java applet to load...

Well worth listening to. RMS always impresses me with his absolute loyalty to his beliefs. Something sadly lacking in our politicians.

Kinox 0 Newbie Poster

> He doesn't typically use a browser unless he views html offline.

Eh, these days most of us practically live in our web browsers. Richard doesn't need anything from the www? Hmm...

KonkaNok 36 Light Poster

>Eh, these days most of us practically live in our web browsers. Richard doesn't need anything from the www? Hmm...

Yea, I found that kinda weird too..

KonkaNok 36 Light Poster

English link: Lemote Computers
Looks pretty cool..

Grepnix 0 Newbie Poster

Yeah..... Thats one thing that puzzles me...RMS has personal reasons why he doesn't use the web? Personal reasons? What the hell does he mean?

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