Last weekend I was in pune. I just came to Hyderabad this morning. Guess who’s in town today? Richard Matthew Stallman. He’s the founder of Free Software Foundation. He made some strong points during his talk at Hari Hara Kala Bhavan in Secunderabad. I was onw of the lucky guys who could go and attend his talk. Here, I present some quotes by RMS in a not so brief interpretation of his talk. The quoted texts are taken directly from his speech.
At the beginning of his talk RMS pointed out that when one thinks of using a program one is not encouraged to ask questions about ethical issues. There are many different and deeper issues when using a program apart from it’s convenience, reliability and cost. He insisted that the free software community is concerned about such deeper issues. “It’s free in the sense of freedom. We are not talking about price. Price is not the issue. The issue is whether the program respects user’s freedom and community.”
“Non-free software keeps the users divided and helpless, divided because they are forbidden to share it and helpless because they don’t have the source code so they can’t change it, they can’t even check what it’s really doing to them.” It is essential to mention specific freedom with a program.
“A program is free for you – the user, if you have four essential freedoms:
Freedom 0 is the freedom to run the program as you wish
Freedom 1 is the freedom to study the source code of the program and then change it to make the program do what you wish.
Freedom 2 is the freedom to help your neighbour. That’s the freedom to make exact copies and distribute them to others when you wish.
Freedom 3 is the freedom to contribute to your community. That’s the freedom to make copies of your modified versions and distribute them to others when you wish.”
A program that provides the above freedoms is considered a free program. It’s not about the price. There are unethical programs which have good features as a bait to take away the freedom of a user.
Freedom 2 is essential as it allows you to share your program with a friend. If you have a proprietary program and your friend wants to have it from you, you are in a dilemma. You can brake the law and pass on a copy of the program and you cannot say no to a friend who’s is good citizen of your community. “If you give a copy to your friend, what will she have? She will have an unauthorized copy of the proprietary program. Something pretty bad, almost as bad as the authorized copy.”What should you do. “You should make sure that you don’t fall into such a dilemma. I know of two ways. One is don’t have any friends.” This divides you from your friends. “The other method is reject proprietary program.” If you don’t have the program you can’t fall into the dilemma. “That’s my solution. That’s how I avoid the dilemma. I reject proprietary software.”
Note: This post is not complete. It will be updated soon.