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Stallman joins the Internet, talks net neutrality, patents and more

Jon Gold | March 24, 2015
According to Richard Stallman, godfather of the free software movement, Facebook is a "monstrous surveillance engine," tech companies working for patent reform aren't going nearly far enough, and parents must lobby their children's schools to keep data private and provide free software alternatives.

However, he was critical of the government for not going far enough to protect the ability of users to share.

"It falls short of true network neutrality in that it fails to tell the ISPs that they can't examine the data to check for unauthorized copying. It fails to tell the ISPs that they can't punish their customers based on what their customers are transmitting."

On systemd

The systemd init software has rocked the Linux community, causing forks of popular distributions and sparking heated debate.

Stallman, however, has long stood apart from the world of open-source and Linux — he regards "open-source" as a weak form of openness, and insists on referring to Linux as GNU/Linux. Thus, it wasn't a surprise that, when asked whether he had an opinion on the systemd controversy, he replied with a flat "no, I don't."

"I've never seen it, I've never used a system that had it; I know it's free software, so ethically speaking, it's not an issue — it's just a convenience question."

Cracking wise

Stallman got a big laugh — though, it must be said, one not unmixed with groans — when he characterized his political views thusly:

"I have to explain that I'm not an anarchist — I have a pro-state gland."

He also amused the audience with a haiku about opponents of the GPL's sharing requirements, which they say make the license less free: "Using GPL / is encroaching on our rights / to encroach on yours."


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