FSFS2008 - 0.1

Free Software Free Society
Conference on Freedom in Computing, Development and Culture

Richard Matthew Stallman

Richard Matthew Stallman is a renown hacker and founder of GNU and the free software movement and The Free Software Foundation. His contributions include GNU C compiler, GNU debugger, and the GNU Emacs.

Richard Matthew Stallman is the founder of the Gnu Project, launched in 1984 to develop the free operating system GNU (an acronym for "GNU's Not Unix"), and thereby give computer users the freedom that most of them have lost. GNU is free software: everyone is free to copy it and redistribute it, as well as to make changes either large or small. He is the principal or initial author of GNU Emacs, the GNU C Compiler, the GNU Debugger GDB and parts of other packages. He is the president of the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

He has been awarded four honorary Ph.Ds from universities around the world. Stallman argues that software users should have the freedom to "share with their neighbor" and to be able to study and make changes to the software that they use and this forms the basis for the Free Software movement.

Stallman has written many essays on software freedom and since the early 1990s has been an outspoken political campaigner for the free software movement. The speeches he has regularly given are titled The GNU project and the Free Software movement, The Dangers of Software Patents, and Copyright and Community in the age of computer networks. His uncompromising attitude on ethical issues concerning computers and software has caused some people to label him as radical and extremist. In 2006 and 2007, during the eighteen month public consultation for the drafting of version 3 of the GNU General Public License, he added a fourth topic explaining the proposed changes.

Stallman's staunch advocacy for free software inspired "Virtual Richard M. Stallman" (vrms), software that analyzes the packages currently installed on a Debian GNU/Linux system, and report those that are from the non-free tree.

In 1999, Stallman called for development of a free on-line encyclopedia through the means of inviting the public to contribute articles.

In Venezuela, Stallman has delivered public speeches and promoted the adoption of free software in the state's oil company (PDVSA), in municipal government, and in the nation's military. Although generally supportive of Hugo Chávez, Stallman has criticised some policies on television broadcasting, free speech rights, and privacy in meetings with Chávez and in public speeches in Venezuela. Stallman is on the Advisory Council of teleSUR, a Latin American television station.

In August 2006 at his meetings with the government of the Indian State of Kerala, he persuaded officials to discard proprietary software, such as Microsoft's, at state-run schools. This has resulted in a landmark decision to switch all school computers in 12,500 high schools from Windows to a free software operating system.

After personal meetings, Stallman has obtained positive statements about the free software movement from the then-President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, French 2007 presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, and the president of Ecuador Rafael Correa.

Stallman has participated in protests about software patents, DRM, and proprietary software.

Protesting against proprietary software in April 2006, Stallman held a "Don't buy from ATI, enemy of your freedom" placard at a speech by an ATI representative in the building where Stallman works, resulting in the police being called. ATI has since merged with AMD Corporation and has taken small steps to make their hardware documentation available for use by the free software community.

Stallman has also helped and supported the International Music Score Library Project in getting back online, after it had been taken down on October 19, 2007 following a cease and desist letter from Universal Edition.