Speech on Free Software (2004)

This speech was given on Feb 17, 2004 at the National Institute of Technology, Trichy, TN, India.

[MOC] We will be starting off with the video conferencing session in a short while, audience please note, the questions should be written on a piece of paper, and handed over to MOC desk. We have volunteers all around waiting with papers, so please use them to ask your questions. Dr. Richard Stallman has a hearing problem and therefore he will not be able to understand your language.

Ladies and gentlemen, I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to to take you through this morning session, which is a trend setter in many ways. This is the first time in the history of NIT, Trichy that a video conference is going to take place. And the ECE association, prides itself in taking this initiative. This wouldn't have been possible without the vision and hard work of the staff and the final years. We hope this initiative will be the first of many in the future and the good work is carried on in the coming years.

Software, a product of digital revolution is a more like magic. Hundreds of copies of a software can be made at touch of a button. Portions of code can copied and used in another program without much effort. These and lot of other properties make it an entirely different beast. A beast that does not bow to the conventional copyright laws. But some people for their own selfishness have tamed this beast and deprived the society the benefits of software.

Amidst this rose a man, who vowed to give back computer users their lost freedom. He proved to the world not by words, but by action that it is possible to produce software without computer users having to give up their freedom. A man who needs no introduction, but nevertheless must be introduced for sake formality. Dr. Richard Stallman is the founder of the GNU project, 1984 to develop the free operating system, GNU. And thereby give computer users the freedom, that most of them had lost. GNU is a free software. Everyone is free to copy it, and redistribute it, as well as make changes, either large or small.

Dr. Richard Stallman graduated from Harvard in 1974, with a B.A in physics. During his college years he also worked as a staff hacker, at the MIT AI lab, learning operating system development on the fly. In 1984, he resigned from MIT to start the GNU project. He has received numerous prizes and awards for his work, which need no mention.

Today Linux based systems, variants of the GNU system based on the kernel Linux, developed by Linus Torvalds are in wide spread use. There are estimated to be some 20 million users of Linux based systems today. And the number is growing at an unprecedented rate.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the man, the driving force of the free software movement, Dr. Richard Stallman. [applause] [silence]

[RMS] Should I start? [silence]

Can you hear me? [silence]

Please raise your hands if you cannot hear me. [silence] So, if people could possibly be a bit quieter, I guess that I can start.

[MOC] Audience please maintain silence. Thank you.

[RMS] Or may be it is just the system that is generating noise. I can't tell, I can't hear, if its people talking or it's some artifact of the communication system. It's just coming across as lot of noise to me. Just turn the volume down some how, I will see how to do that. I don't seem to have a control for that. Don't worry about it. Don't turn it all the way off though. Just a little bit lower.

I want to have some indication of what's going on in the room, so that I can hear you, but the volume may be just a bit too high, so that the room noise is getting tremendous.

Okay. Lets see. [silence] Well I guess, I will just start, if that's the thing to do. My speech today well… Is it the time I should start. Or people are still coming into the room, should I wait a couple of more minutes.

[MOC] Sir, we can start.

[RMS] I see people coming in. I will wait till the people come in and get seated.

[MOC] Sir, it is getting late, I think we can start.

[RMS] Okay. What is free software? Free Software is software that respects the freedom of the users. This doesn't have anything to do with price, at least not directly. I am not talking about gratis software. I don't mean software that you get without paying. That is actually a side issue that is not particularly relevant. I mean software that you can use in freedom. Software that respects the freedoms of the user. Or I should be more specific. Which are the freedoms, that I mean.

For programs to be free software, you the user must have four specific freedoms. There is freedom zero, the freedom to run the program, for whatever purpose in whatever manner. There is freedom one, the freedom to study the source code, to see what the program really does. And then change it to do, what you want. There is freedom two, which is the freedom to distribute copies to others, in other words the freedom to help your neighbor. And there is freedom three, the freedom to help build your community which is the freedom to publish a modified version, so that others can benefit from your contribution.

All these freedoms, are essential. It's a mistake to think of them as levels of freedom, because all four must be present, in order for the software to be ethically legitimate.

Why these particular freedoms? Freedom zero is essential so that you can have control over your own computer. If you are not free to use the program for whatever purpose in whatever manner then your use of your own computer, is being restricted. But freedom zero is not enough to have control over your own computer, because without more than that you can't control what the program does.

Freedom one is essential, freedom one enables to see personally what the program really does, and then it change to do whatever you really want it to do. If you don't have freedom one, then you do not control what your computer is doing, the developer of the program controls, what it's going to do on your computer, and you have no recourse.

In fact, its not unusual for developers put in malicious features. This is primarily developers nonfree software, that put in malicious features and they figure that you cannot take them out. They figure, they will get away with it. Because you are helpless. It is very common for nonfree programs to spy on the user. And they figure you might not be able to tell that its are spying on you, because you can't get the source code and so how would you know what it is reporting about you. We found out some cases, where programs spy on you. For example, Windows spies on you. 3 years ago there was a scandal, because Microsoft setup Windows to report what is installed on your disk. It would send this information back to Microsoft. Then there was a scandal there was an uproar so Microsoft took it out, and put it back in disguise.

About a year ago, some developers… some researchers found out that, they figured out that, Windows XP when it asked for an upgrade, also reports to Microsoft, what's installed on your disk. And it does this secretly, it sends the list of files encrypted, so that it was impossible for people to tell easily that this was going on. They had to work hard [FIXME: 12:10] ??? to determine what information Windows was sending back to Microsoft. But, Windows is not the only software package, nonfree software package that [FIXME: 12:30 spies] on you. Windows media player also spies on you. Every time you access something, it sends a report to Microsoft, saying what you are looking at. And Real Player also spies on you. So Microsoft is not the only nonfree software developer guilty of this kind of special mistreatment of the users. The Tivo spies on you. Some people enthusiastic on Tivo, because it is based on GNU and Linux to some extent.

But it also contains nonfree software. And it is designed to spy on you, and report what you watch. I am told there are many other programs that are spy-ware. Then there are programs that do other nasty things to you. For instance there are programs that reconfigure your computer, so for instance that it will display ads for you all the time, and they don't tell you install this program and it will display these ads. They figure that most of the users won't notice, they won't will be able to figure out. They figure you will install several programs and you won't know which one changed your computer's configuration. Or that you won't know how to undo it. Of course, if it were free software this could be fixed. I will get to that in a minute. But sometimes they get even worse. Sometimes programs have features designed to stop you from doing things. Software developers like to talk about how their programs could do things for you. But sometimes they design programs that will refuse to do things for you. This is often called DRM—Digital Restrictions Management. Where programs are designed to refuse to access files for you, to refuse to let you save files, or copy files or convert files.

Even more bizarre, there is a malicious feature in the music sharing program, Kazaa, where the company… the developers sell time on your computer. So, other people will pay Kazaa, so that they can run their programs on your computer. They don't pay you. In fact, this was being kept secret. The developers of Kazaa didn't say to the users, “By the way, we are going to be selling time on your computer.” People had to figure this out.

So, I am telling you examples, that I have heard of. But you never know, if there is some other nonfree program, how do you it has some malicious secret feature. The point is you can't get the source. Without freedom one, the freedom to help yourself, the freedom to study the source code and change it to do what you want, you can't tell what the program is really doing. All you can do is put blind faith in the developer. The developer says, “The program does this” Now you either believe it or you don't.

Of course, not all developers of nonfree software are putting malicious features. Some really are sincerely doing their best to put in features to please the user. But, they are all human, and they all mistakes. These mistakes are called bugs. Well, we free software developers are also human, and we also make mistakes. Our programs have bugs too. The difference is, when you have freedom you can study the source code and you can find whatever is bad in the program, whether it is a deliberate malicious feature or an accident. Either way you can find it, and then you can fix the program to get rid of it. You can make the program better. With nonfree software you are just helpless. But with free software you have power over your computer. You are in control. But freedom one is not enough. Freedom one is the freedom, to personally study the source code and then change it to do what you want. That is the freedom to help yourself. But freedom one is not enough, because first of all there are millions of people who use computers but do not know how to program. Freedom one is not enough for them. They don't how to personally study the source code and change it to do what they want. But even for us programmers freedom one is not enough. Because there are so many programs. Nobody has time to study them all, and master them all, to be able to make changes in each one of them.

So, we need to be able to work together. And that's what freedom three is for. Freedom three is the freedom to help build your community, by publishing a modified version. So other people can use your version. This is what makes it possible for us all to work together taking control of our computers and our software.

…That there are a million users and all of them want a certain change in a certain program. They want it to work like this way instead. Well, in those million people, just by luck, there will be a thousand who know how to program. Sooner or later there will be a ten of them, who read the source of the program, and made the change and publish a modified version that does what they want. And there are million other people who want the same thing. So, they will use the modified version. They all get a change to have what they want. Because a few of them made the change.

With freedom three, a few people can make change and it then becomes available to many people. And this way, any collectivity of users can take control over their software. What happens if there is a group of people who want a change but none of them knows how to program. Suppose if only 500 people and none of them is a programmer. Now, suppose it is 10000 but they are all people who have stores, so that they don't know how to program. Well, with free software they can still make use of freedom one and three. They can all put together some money and when they have collected the money they can go to a programmer or to a programming company and say, “How much would you charge, to make this particular change and when can you have it done?”

And if they don't like what that particular company says, they can go to a different company and say, “What would you charge to make this change and when can you have it done?” They can choose who they are going to deal with. And this illustrates the fact that free software means that there is a free market, for all kinds of services such as, to make the program do what you want. With nonfree software, support is a monopoly, because only the developer has the source code and only the developer can make any change.

So if you don't like what the program does, you have to go to the developer and beg, “Oh, please developer, please do my change for me.” And probably the developer says, “You are not important enough, why should I care about you. There are just a hundred thousand of you why should I care.” But with free software, there is a free market for support and if the developer isn't interested in what you want some body else will be, especially if you have some money to pay.

There are users of software who consider good support crucial and they are willing to pay money so that they could have good support. In general, because free software support is a free market, these users can expect better support for their money, if they are using free software.

Paradoxically speaking, when you have a choice between several nonfree programs to do the same job, which ever one you choose the support for it is going to be a monopoly afterwards, so at the beginning you get a choice, but afterwards you are stuck in a monopoly. That's the paradox you have a choice between monopolies. In other words you get to choose who is going to be your master. But a choice of masters is not freedom, with free software you don't have to choose a master. You get to choose freedom, you don't have to choose between monopolies instead, you continue to have freedom for as long as you keep using that program you are using it in freedom.

So I have explained freedom zero, one and three. These freedoms are all necessary so that you can have control over your computer. Freedom two is a different matter, Freedom two is to help your neighbor by distributing copies of the programs to others. Freedom two is essential for a basic ethical reason, so that you can live an upright life where you help other people.

Now, the spirit… the most important resource of any society is the spirit of good will, the spirit of readiness to help your neighbors. Of course, nobody spends a 100% of time helping his neighbors, nobody does a 100% of whatever other people ask. And that is appropriate because you have to take care of yourself also. But only extremely bad people do zero to help their neighbors and in fact normally in society you have levels of helping the neighbors in between, not 0 and not a 100% and these levels can get bigger or smaller depending on social change, by how we organize society we can encourage people to help their neighbor and help each other some what more or some what less and these changes in the levels make the difference between a livable society and a dog eat dog jungle. And it is not by accident that the world's major religions for 1000 of years have been encouraging people to help their neighbors, encouraging a spirit of benevolence of good will towards your fellow human beings.

So what does it mean when powerful social institutions start saying sharing with your neighbor is wrong, they are discouraging people from helping each other reducing the level of cooperation. They are poisoning this essential resource. What does it mean when they say if you help your neighbor you are a pirate. They are saying that to share with your neighbor is the moral equivalent of attacking a ship. That morality is upside down, because attacking ships are really really bad but helping your neighbor is good and must be encouraged and what does it mean when the start making harsh punishments for people who share with their neighbors. How much fear is it going to take before people are too scared to help their neighbors. Do you want to be living in a society filled with this level of terror. The only … for what they are doing is terror campaign. In 2 countries so far in Argentina and then in Germany, these companies, the developers of nonfree software have sent public threats, threatening people would be raped in prison for using unauthorized copies of software. The only thing you can call it when people are threatening others will rape is a terror campaign and we should put and end to this terrorism, right away.

Now, why did I say that freedom two, the freedom to help your neighbor is necessary to live an upright life. Because if you agree to license for a nonfree program, you have partly participated in the evil. You have put yourself in a bad moral situation. By using a program that does not give you freedom two, the freedom to help your neighbor, you have put yourself in a moral dilemma, potentially. It may never happen, but as soon as somebody comes to you and says, could I have a copy of this program. You are now in a moral dilemma, where you have to choose between two evils. One evil is make a copy help your neighbor, but you violate the license, the other evil is you follow the license but you are a bad neighbor. They are both wrong, so you have to choose the lesser evil, the lesser evil in my opinion is to share with your neighbor and violate the license. Because your neigh deserves… presuming this person had done nothing wrong, hasn't mistreated you, then he deserves your cooperation. Where as, who ever tried to divide you from your neighbors is doing something very very wrong and doesn't deserve your cooperation, so if you got to do something wrong, you got to do it to somebody who deserves it.

However, once you recognize this, once you realize, that using this nonfree program means you are liable to end up with a choice between two evils, what you should really do is to refuse to get into that situation, by refusing to use the nonfree program, refusing to have the nonfree program. If you insist on using and having only free software then you cant ever get into this moral dilemma. Because when ever your friend asks you for a copy of the program, you will be able to say “sure,” and it wont be any evil because free software means you are free to distribute copies. It means you have not promised that you refuse to share with other people. You can share and there is nothing bad about the situation. So once you recognize that, using and having the nonfree program means putting yourself in a potential moral dilemma, you say no to it. And that way you avoid the moral dilemma. You stay in a position where you can live in a upright life and you are not going to find yourself forced to do something wrong.

Once I was in the audience when John Perry Barlow was giving his speech, and he asked raise your hand if you don't have any unauthorized copies of software and only one person in the audience raised his hand, it was me. And he saw that and he said, “Oh, of course you.” He knew that all my copies were legal authorized copies because the programs were all free software. There are people who made copies from me were all authorized to copy the program and give me a copy. And all my copies were authorized.

The information police, who are trying to put people in prison for having unauthorized copies, are doing something wrong. What they are doing is something illegitimate, what ah… what is it called… NASCOM, what they are doing is wrong, but at the same time I don't want to have to be sneaking when I give you copies of the software, so I would rather use the free software and then I can stand up even with the police watching. And I can give you a copy and I don't have to be scared we don't have to live in fear, by choosing free software. So these are the reasons that the four freedoms that define free software. Freedom zero is the freedom to run the program as you seek it. Freedom one is the freedom to help yourself by studying the source code and changing it to do what you want. Freedom two is to distribute copies to others, and freedom three is the freedom to build your community by publishing an improved version, so as to help the other users of software.

Now, none of these is a question of price. Free software does not mean you can get it at zero price. In fact it is perfectly legitimate for people to sell copies. That's an example of freedom two, freedom two is the freedom to make copies and distribute it to others. That includes selling them if you wish. You are free to make copies and sell them. It is true that typically people won't pay a large amount of money for their copies, because they know that can find someone else can give him a copy, so most people won't pay very much for a copy. They might pay a certain amount you know if the price is small enough, if it is easier them for them to pay it, than to go hunt around and go to the trouble of getting a copy gratis. There are people sell copies, and they make some money with it. But people generally can't do is hold the users to ransom, squeezing a lots of painful money out of them, because at that point the users will redistribute copies to each other, they will make the effort. So free software can't be used to squeeze money out of people in a way that hurts society. But it doesn't mean that no money ever changes hands it does not mean gratis. Sometimes people in India refer it to as Mukth software or Swatantra software, to emphasis that we are not talking about gratis. But it is true that the savings that users can have because they are not forced to pay for permission, can be important for encouraging computer use, in a country with lots of poor people, because authorized copies of the software can cost more than the computer.

Now the computer can cost this much and the authorized copies of software can cost this much. Well, there are lots of people in India who might be able to afford the computer, but couldn't possibly afford the software, because they can just barely afford a computer. So free software can make a big difference in terms of who in India can get a computer and run it. We don't see this yet, because a lot of people in India are using unauthorized copies. I don't think it is wrong to use unauthorized copies, but we can see the developers of nonfree software are trying to make this impossible. They have two different ways, one is the terror campaign you know threatening to rape people in prison, and the other one is technical changes that can prevent the unauthorized copies from running, making people register in order for the software to run, you can see this in Windows XP, and there are more such measures coming. So what we can expect is, that it would be harder and harder in India to get by using unauthorized copies. And that means computer use in India and computer users in India are heading for a train wreck. They are on a course that leads to disaster and the thing that India needs to build is, start making effort to get on to the other track, to get on to the free software track, the track that escapes from this problem. So every social institutions in India, every government agency, every school, every organization, should be working as quickly as feasible, to switch people from the nonfree track to the free track.

But this is not what they are doing. And you can see easily if you look around easily, government organization in India are mostly using nonfree software. And schools in India are using nonfree software. This is a terrible mistake, it is a foolish and disastrous policy, governments of course deserves to use free software. Every computer user deserves to have the four freedoms, and that includes government agencies that use software. But when it is a government agency it has a responsibility, a duty to choose free software. Because government agency does data processing for the public, and they have a responsibility to maintain control over their computers, to make sure that the data processing that they are doing is right. They do not, they cannot legitimately allow the processing of data to fall into private hands, so our private parties to have control over what their computers are doing.

I see a lot of people moving around, what's happening… what's happening… I can't hear you, the sound is turned off apparently…

[MOC] Sir, we are collecting questions.

[RMS] Any way I hope it is over now. I will continue. So government agencies have a duty to make sure that they continue to control, what's going on in their own computers.

So I see, you are collecting the questions already. But I am not even finished yet! Anyway… I am probably about a half finished. OK, now I understand. So okay, I will continue.

Because remember, if you are using a nonfree program, you don't really know what it does and you have no control over what it really does. You can't tell if there is a back door. There are people who suspect that Microsoft has put a back door into Windows or other software. We don't know, because we can't see the source code, there is no way to find out, if there is a back door. And it is possible also, that some of Microsoft employees put in a back door without being asked to. I heard some of the people working on Windows XP, were arrested, accused of working a terrorist organization and accused of trying to put in a back door. Now, this means, if you are using nonfree software, you have be scared that the company, that is the developer put in a back door, and you also have to be scared that some developers secretly put in a back door, that even the company doesn't know about. The point is, that because you can't get the source code, study it and change it, you are helpless either way.

And Microsoft did something really stupid. Well, really absurd. Supposedly, they offered various governments access to the source code. But they did it in a way that is fraudulent. For instance, they offered the Indian government access to the source code of Windows. But, that doesn't mean that they offered a copy of the source code to Indian government. Oh No! They offered access to a special server site, where a few chosen people from the government will be able to login and then single step through programs. And supposedly, see what's going on in the source code. But there would be no way they could guarantee that the source code they are looking at in the server, is the same thing that is running on their own machines. So the whole this is a fraud. A joke. Except, the joke would be on the Indian government, if it said yes to this project.

And, meanwhile, even if one organization got access to the source code, if your organization doesn't have access to the source code, that doesn't help you.

Every school in India should be using free software. So as, to teach the children of India to grow up to be free software users. You see, teaching these children to become users of nonfree software is guiding them on to the track that leads to the train wreck. So schools have to be teaching these children to grow up to be free software users.

It should be no surprise, that Microsoft is offering gratis copies of Windows to schools in India. They are doing this for the same reason that tobacco companies used to offer gratis packs of cigarettes to children. They are trying to get children hooked. They are not doing this, to be helpful to anybody. They are doing this so as to have more of their grip around these children. So, they are asking the schools to become accessories, in maintaining their grip. And this should not be surprising. If you compare Microsoft with other forms of colonialism, you will see a lot of similarities. Because you see, nonfree software is a system of colonialism. The developers… Instead of one country colonizing another, it is various companies trying to colonize the whole world. And they do this, using divide conquer tactics. Keeping the user divided and helpless. And if you think about it, that is what a nonfree program does, it keeps the users divided and helpless. Divided, because you are forbidden to distribute copies to other people, forbidden to help your neighbor. And helpless, because you can't get the source code and change it. So, with this divide and conquer policy, you also see the policy of using the local [45:20] ???? to keep everyone else inline. So Microsoft offers special deals, to whoever seems to have special influence, to get them to use Windows, and thus keep everyone else inline. Governments are being used in this way. And schools are being used in this way. The schools of India should reject nonfree software, and thus refuse to be used to keep the population of India inline and under the domination of the developers of nonfree software.

But there are two even deeper reasons, why schools in India should insist on free software. One reason is for the sake of education. As people reach their teenage years, some of them are going to be fascinated by computers. They are going want to learn everything about what is going on inside that computer. They are going to want to learn how does this program work. If they are using nonfree software, the teacher has to tell them, “Sorry, you can't learn that, I can't learn that. It's a secret. Nobody is allowed to learn that.” Nonfree software prohibits education. But with free software, the teacher can say, “Go ahead. Here's the source code for this program. Read it. You can learn. And then, now that you have read the source code, try making a change, try making a small change in this program. And then try making another. Try changing that program. Try changing that program.” And this way the students who are fascinated by computers will learn to write good software.

As far as I can tell, some people are born with the skill program, are born with their brains growing so that they will have the skill to program. They will be natural programmers. But writing clear understandable software is something you have to learn. That's judgment. The way you learn is by reading lots of source and by changing lots of programs. That way you learn what makes a program easy to understand and easy to change. Every time you try to read a program and it is hard to figure out a certain part, you learn this is not the way to write clear code. Nonfree software doesn't help you do this. Nonfree software just keeps you in the dark. But if the schools of India switched to free software, then they can offer the students the opportunity to learn to be good programmers. To learn the same way I learnt. In the 1970s, I had a special opportunity. I worked at the AI lab at MIT. And there, we had our own time sharing system, which was free software. We would share with anybody. In fact, we were delighted anytime when somebody was interested in any part of it. We were delighted anytime somebody wanted to join us in using it and then help develop it. And so I had the opportunity to read all these different programs that were part of the system, and make changes in them. And by doing this over and over again, for years, I learnt to be a good programmer. I had to go to one particular place on earth, to have this opportunity, which was very unusual, very rare. Today any PC running the GNU plus Linux operating system, will offer you this opportunity. Every school in India that has a computer can offer its students the same opportunity, that I could only get at MIT.

So schools should use free software for the sake of education, but there is an even deeper reason, because schools are not supposed to teach just facts, just skills, but even more deep, they are supposed to teach the spirit of goodwill, the habit of cooperating with other people. So schools shall have a rule: If you bring software to class, you are not allowed to keep it for yourself, you must let the other kids copy it. A rule of good citizenship. Of course, the school has to practice its on own. So, the school also should only bring free software to class. The software running on computers in class should all be free software and this way the schools can teach good citizenship.

Three weeks ago… No it was two weeks ago, when i met with Dr. Kalam and explained to him about why schools should use free software and about how nonfree software is colonial system, I was really delighted, because he understood it instantly. He recognized the analogy, how the colonial powers tried to recruit the [FIXME: 51:40 weaks] ??? to become their assistants for keeping the rest of the population inline. And then, the most delightful part was that some people from Microsoft were waiting to see him next. I am sure when he spoke with them… that this comparison will go through his mind, as they try to convince him to do something or other, as they offered some kind of inducement to help keep India inline. What happened in that meeting, of course I don't know; because I wasn't there in his subsequent meeting with Microsoft. But I'm sure with this analogy running through his minds, he would have had some effect and I hope it will have some effect on you. When you, as part of the Indian [FIXME: 52:30] ??? are invited to help keep India inline. That you recognize that it's your duty to say no. When somebody invites you to join in a free software movement, where we weave our own code together, that you'll recognize that this is the way to put an end to colonialism.

Well, when somebody says, “What?! we have an office in India; we were spending a million dollars a year paying a few people in India. Doesn't this make it okay for us the colonizer of the rest of India.” Well, you will recognize how stupid is this. The British employed people in India too, but that didn't make colonialism a good thing; didn't make it legitimate; didn't make it ethical. Because every computer user deserves freedom.

So I've been explaining why software should be free. So what do we do about it? I was thinking about these issues in 1983 and I reached the conclusion that software should be free; that the only way to live in freedom is to insist on free software. But what can i do about it? If you want to get a computer and run it, the first thing you need is an operating system and in 1983 all the operating systems for modern computers were nonfree, were proprietary. So what can I do? The only way you can get a modern computer and run it was to sign a contract promising to betray your neighbors. How could there be an alternative? The only way to have an alternative, the only way to use a computer and within freedom, was to write a free operating system. So I decided I would do that. I was an operating system developer, I've the skills to undertake this project. So I decided I would write free operating system, or die trying, presumably of old age. Because at that time, the free software movement which was just beginning, had no enemies. We just had a lot of work to do. So I decided that I would develop a free operating system and I decided to make it a Unix like operating system. So that it would be portable and so that Unix users would be having easy times switching over to this operating system that would give them freedom.

I figured, by making it compatible with some existing popular systems, we'll have more users and thus the community of freedom, the free world would grow bigger. And I gave the system the name GNU, which stands for GNU's Not Unix. It's a humorous way of giving credit to the ideas of Unix. It's a recursive acronym and that was a traditional programmers of having fun and giving credit at the same time. At the same time the word GNU, is used for lots of word plays, it's a word that has a lot of humor associated with it which makes it the best possible name for anything. I should explain that the word GNU is the name of an animal that was in Africa. We use the animal as our symbol. So if you see a smiling animal with some horns that is associated with our software, that's a gnu. So 20 years and 1 month ago, in January 1984, I quit my job at MIT and began developing the GNU system. I didn't do it all myself, of course, I was also trying to recruit other people to help and gradually over the years more and more people joined in. During the 1980s, well we had only a few parts of the GNU system; some of these parts were superior and so people would take them and install them on their nonfree systems. For instance, the GNU Emacs text editor and the GNU C compiler. These were programs that people would learn even on top of their nonfree Unix system. But our real goal was not just to have a few popular programs, the goal was to make a complete system. So that we should reject the nonfree systems; reject nonfree software, escape from the bondage of nonfree software. So we kept filling in these gaps in the system and by the early 90s we had just one important gap remaining and that was the kernel.

In 1991, a college student in Finland, wrote a free kernel and released it under the name Linux. Actually in 1991, it was not free. Initially it was released under a license which was little too restrictive and did not qualify as free. But in 1992, he changed the license and he made it free software. At that point it was possible to take this kernel and fit it into the gap in the GNU system and make a complete system. The system which is a combination of GNU and Linux. This GNU plus Linux operating system now has tens of millions of users.

Unfortunately, most of them don't know that it's basically the GNU system. They think the whole system is Linux. That's the result of a confusion. The people who combined the Linux and the GNU system, they didn't realize that they were using Linux to fill this gap. They thought that they were starting with Linux, and adding all the other components that were needed to make a complete system. Well, all the other components were pretty much the GNU system. But they did not recognize that. They thought they were starting with Linux and turning it into a complete system. So, they started speaking of this entire system as Linux. Even though it was actually more GNU. The result is the confusion that you will see today. Many people when they talk about the GNU system call it Linux. In fact, if you see someone talking about Linux, then unless he is talking about an embedded system, he almost certainly means the GNU system with Linux added. But sometimes he is talking about embedded systems, and there maybe he really means Linux. Because in embedded systems, sometimes people use Linux by itself, without the rest of the operating system. You don't need a whole operating system in an embedded computer.

So there is a lot of confusion. People say Linux, and sometimes they mean an entire operating system that you could run on a desktop or a server, and sometimes they mean just this kernel, which is enough for a embedded machine and that's all. So, if you want to avoid confusing people, you need to distinguish them, use different names for different things. When you are talking about the kernel, please call it “Linux.” That was written by a person, who chose the name Linux. And we ought to use the name he chose. When you are talking of the operating system, that's mostly GNU. And when I started developing it, I chose the name GNU. So please call this combination GNU plus Linux. All I am asking for, is a equal mention, for the principle developers of the system, the GNU project. We wrote the largest part of the system, and we had the vision for doing this whole job. Please give us equal mention. We need it. We need it, so that we can spread the philosophy. Teach people the ethical reasons. The social and political issues that are stake here. Why software should be free.

Now, it was suggested I should talk about, some issues having to do with hardware. Sometimes, people ask whether hardware also should be free. Well, the issue only partly is meaningful. Because you see, what does it mean for software to be free. It means that, you are free to use it if you wish, study what it does, and change it. And copy it, and distribute copies, including modified copies. But you see, ordinary users of hardware, can't copy the hardware. There are no copiers. If I am ordinary user of software, I can copy it. Because every computer is a copier for software. And I don't need any special facilities to be able to study the plans and change them. I just need to understand programming. Then I can read the source code, as long as the developer will let me have a copy of the source code. But hardware isn't made by copying. You don't make computers, by putting them into a universal copier. You know, if somebody gives you one CPU chip, you can't copy that CPU chip to make another identical chip. Nobody can do that. There are no copiers. Now what about modifying it. Nobody can modify a chip. Once it's made, it's made. There are chips that are customizable. But to actually go in and modify the hardware of the chip, is impossible. For those chips that are customizable, suppose it is a microcodable chip, or a programmable gate array, the microcode, that's software, that's not hardware. The pattern of gates circuitry that goes in a programmable gate array chip, that pattern is software. That pattern can easily be changed and can easily be copied, because it is software.

So that will help you understand, how these issues relate to various situations. The pattern that you load into something, that's software. And the physical object, that's the hardware. The physical object that can't just be copied, but has to be made in a factory.

But sometimes, there is a different issue that does make sense for hardware. And that is the design spec, visible. You know, can the public get copies of design, to find out what the hardware does. Well, this is necessary in certain cases, so that you can check for malicious features. This is a fairly new issue. In the past, you know, if you go to disk controller, you know, it's a card, you are going to put it in your computer, you didn't have to worry very much. Is there a danger that there will be malicious feature on this disk controller. Because there wasn't really much danger. There wasn't much scope for putting in malicious feature into people's disk controllers. Because, how would they send a command to your disk controller. It just wasn't really feasible, to do those things. But, as these controllers get to be more… as the hardware gets more and more powerful hardware can be put in a smaller place, it becomes feasible, that somebody could put back doors, into your disk controller, into your CPU, into your network card. Now, how do you know that your network card isn't setup to receive some secret message, which is going to tell it to start spying on you somehow.

So these issues start mattering, once the hardware becomes powerful enough, we need to insist that we can control what's really inside it. But you noticed, that the lot of stuff inside this so called hardware, is really software. A lot of device controllers nowadays, have computers in them. And there is software to get downloaded into this computer, and that software should be free. That's the only way we can trust it. That's the only way we can tell that it doesn't have some secret back door feature, to spy on us. It has got to be free software.

So, the general rule is, if people ask me the question, “Does this apply to computers that are embedded?” I thought about this and I reached the conclusion, that if new software can be loaded into this computer, then it's visibly a computer, it really is a computer, for you the user. And that means you must have the freedom to control the software. But more recently, another issue is arising, that if the device can talk to the network, whether that's the Internet, or the cell phone network, or whatever. If it can talk to other people, then you don't know whether it is spying on you. So, it has to be free software. Consider for instance, portable phones. You shouldn't use a portable, unless the software is free. There really have been dangerous malicious features, in portable phones. There are portable phones in Europe which have this feature, that somebody can remotely tell the phone to listen to you. It really is a spy device, in the most classical sense. And if you have a portable phone, do you know who could be spying on you at any time? You don't unless you are… unless the software in your portable phone is a free software. So, we must insist on free software for this portable phones. That's just one of the reasons I won't use a portable phone. Because the portable phone network is a surveillance device. It can keep records of where you go. It can keep a permanent record of where you have been at all the time. And I think this is so dangerous such as threat to our freedom, that we must refuse to have these phones. They're dangerous, they're poison.

Any way for more information I would like to refer you the gnu projects web site, which is www.gnu.org and also to the web site of the free software foundation of India, which is FSFIndia no sorry… I … no it's… It's gnu.org.in that's gnu.org.in. If you would like to help free software in India, please get in touch with FSF-India so that you can combine your efforts with other people and together you can fight for freedom.

From now I'll accept questions.

Oh boy, am I sleepy!

[MOC] Sir, we will be reading out the questions one by one collected from the audience, and… then you can answer the questions.

[RMS] Okay, if one person asks multiple questions, please give them to me one at a time.

[MOC] Yes, sir.

The first question comes from H. Sundar Raman. His question is, “What is the difference between Open Source Software and Free Software?”

[RMS yawns]

[RMS] I should first explain that Free Software and Open Source each has two related meanings.

I am looking at a mirror image of myself. So it's hard to me to see where to put my hands.

Each one refers to a categorical software and each one refers to a philosophical movement. So there is the free software… the free software is a category of licenses. And there is the free software movement and it's philosophy. Likewise open source is a category of licenses and a philosophy. For we can compare the free software movement and the open source movement… sorry, we can compare free software as a category of software with open source as a category of software. And we can compare the free software movement philosophy with the open source philosophy. And what you find is as categories of software they are very close together. Open source is a category of licenses just as free software is a category of licenses. And these two categories are defined with very different language. But so far practically speaking they are pretty similar. There are some licenses that qualify as open source but do not qualify as free software. How ever they are not used very much. So, if you know that of certain program is open source and that's all you know, you can't be sure it's free software but it probably is free software.

Meanwhile, there are also the two movements and their philosophies. And these are very far apart. In the free software movement we have a philosophy based on freedom and ethics. We say that you must insist on free software so that you can live an up-right life and have freedom to help other people. The open source movement was formed specifically to avoid saying that, to reject our ethical principles. The open source movement doesn't say you should insist on open source software. They say that it may be convenient or advantageous. They sight practical values only. They say that they have a superior design… sorry a superior development model—superior in its shallow technical sense, that it usually produces technically better software. But that's the most they will say. They won't say that this is an ethical imperative, they won't say that software should be open source, they won't say that closed source software is an attempt to colonize you and you should escape. They won't say anything like that and in-fact the reason for their movement is specifically not to say that; to cover that up. And so when it comes to the philosophical foundation what they say and what we say are as different as night and day. And that's why I am always very unhappy when anybody associates me or my work with open source.

The people who developed, who are motivated by the open source movement, they are usually contributing to our community because usually their software is free. And that can be a good contribution. But I disagree with their philosophy completely. I think it is shallow. And I am very unhappy when people label me by their slogan and give people the impression I agree with that philosophy.

So next question please.

[MOC] The next question comes from Advait Thumbde. His question is freedom to copy may not generate enough money; which is essential to fund resources for technological development. Where as many rival firms…

[RMS interrupts] No. That's false. That's false. Money is not essential for technological development, not in the software field. May be in an other field it is because other fields are much more difficult. It cause a lot of money to setup a factory to build hardware. Well, that requires an investment. But we have proved, in the free software movement we have proved that we can develop a wide range of software with out any investment. We proved this by doing it. There are about a million people contributing to the free software and most of them are volunteers. Large programs has been developed by volunteers, which proves that its not necessary to raise a lot of money. It's not necessary to have any money. Now I suppose that these volunteers are not starving, they are not living on the streets. They must have jobs. I don't know what their jobs are, but remember that if you look at all computer related employment, only a small fraction of that is programming. And most of that is custom software design, only a small fraction of that is developing software for publication. To be made available to the public. So there are lots of jobs these people might have to support themselves. So that they can spend some of their free time developing our free software. And this is not a problem as long as we develop lots of free software. And we do. The fact is we know this is not a problem.

So, the people who say that free software won't work because we can't raise enough money, that's like people saying air planes won't work because of we don't have anti-gravity. Well, air planes do work which proves we don't need anti-gravity. I should also point out there are also people who are getting payed to develop free software. The money comes from in-various ways. Sometimes these people are extending existing free programs to meet the demands of clients. Sometimes, they are getting funding from universities or governments.

Governments fund the large fraction of all the software developments in the world and except in the rare cases where the software has to be kept secret. It could just as well be free software. So we should be spreading the word in academia. When you have a project to develop some software, it must be free software. It's an ethical requirement to make it free software.

Finally, I should say that you might want to get money to do something; you might want to make money out of an activity. And this is not wrong, not in itself. But if the activity itself is wrong then you can't justify it by saying I'm going to get money. You know, the [FIXME 81:00] get money; but that's no excuse for robing people. Nonfree software is ethically poison. It's a scheme to keep people divided and helpless. It's a form of colonization. And that's wrong. So when a person says to me “I'm going to make my program proprietary so that I can get money, so that I can work full time developing the program” I say to him “That's like saying you're going to rob people so that you can get money, so that you can spend full time robing people.” It's all wrong. And you shouldn't do it.

I believe that people who contribute to society made it… Well… People contribute to society it's a good idea if we reward them for it. And when people are doing things that harm society, it's a good idea if we find ways to punish them for it. That will encourage people to do things that contribute to society and not to do things that hurt society. And therefore people who develop free software should be rewarded and people who develop nonfree software should be punished. Because, free software is a contribution to society but nonfree software is a scheme to colonize society and that deserves punishment not reward. Another way to look at it is to realize that to use a nonfree program is either to be foolish or unethical or both. Which means that, for me, these nonfree program …is… might as well be nothing because I am not going to use it. Ethical people, people who insists on living an up-right life are going to reject it any way. So his program is only avail… only going to be of used to suckers. Who don't have well trained consciousness. And what good is that? So the person says to me “I can only develop this program if I make it proprietary; that's the only way I can bring in enough money so that I can spend the time developing this program.” I'm not going to tell him that can't be true because I don't know his circumstances. If he says that there is no way he can develop this program unless he has paid full time and if he says that he doesn't know any way to get payed full time except to make the program proprietary; I'm not going to tell him this is false because he knows his situation. What I will tell him is, “Please don't develop the program.” Developing the program in that way would be evil or would be harmful. So it's better if you don't do it at all. Do something else. Because a few years from now sooner or later some one else will be in a different situation. Some one will be able to write this program with out subjugating the users. And we could afford to wait a few years so that we keep our freedom. Freedom is worth a small sacrifice. We can wait a few years.

So next question.

[MOC] His next question is “All intellectual work like books are proprietary.” Is it not justified in case of software?

[RMS] Well, he is mistaken. There are plenty of free books as well. In fact more and more the movement is catching on to makes books free, free as in freedom I mean. Now, we started doing this in the 1980's. The manuals for GNU software that are developed by the GNU project are all free in the sense that you are free to copy them. They are not gratis at-least not always. We print copies and we sell them and we sell them for more than the production cost because we're trying to raise money. So, you know, of course this was to produce re-charge this much because we're trying to raise substantial money with these books. But you are free to copy and change them. And you could even get the source code through the Internet, the source code for the books. And now we are not the only ones. There is now a movement for free text books. In-fact there are projects in India and elsewhere to develop free educational materials to make available to schools. A complete curriculum of free educational materials. Because educational materials should be free. And so I suggest that you look at the site gnowledge.org. That's like knowledge but spells with a g instead of a k. And you will see one of these initiatives being carried out by Prof. Nagarjuna in Mumbai.

Also, I should mention the free encyclopedia—Wikipedia. It's the largest encyclopedia in history. I believe, it now has more than a hundred and sixty thousand entries. Which is far more than any other encyclopedia has ever had. Like around twice. And this has been done in just a few years; by the public.

So, if we were to believe these threats, ???? people say the only way to develop these things, the only way to write and update an encyclopedia is proprietary, they are making a threat. They're saying if you don't agree to give up your freedom, you won't get the encyclopedia, you won't get the software. They're asking us to feel helpless and feel desperate. And that's really foolish.

[RMS yawns]

Next question.

[MOC] The next question is from Ganapathy. He says “I believe the greatest challenge to free software lies in getting quality software which means quality software developers. But enough drive has to be there for them to spend time and brain. So what do you suggest for getting enthusiastic developers.”

[RMS interrupts] That's not true.

Well, you know I keep getting questions from people who believe things that are demonstrably false. People who are making guesses about our community and they're guessing wrong.

The fact is free software has a reputation for high quality. The GNU plus Linux operating system initially began catching on back in the 90's because of its high quality. People discovered that it would stay up for months. That they would find… the only time the system went down is when the power failed. And this contrasts with nonfree software that's often quite unreliable. So you see this often, you will see people foolishly making the assumptions that free software can't work. They don't know any thing but they're making it all up. Now, why is this? I guess because nonfree software is so common, they make the assumption it must work well.

Do you think that people use Windows because it is good? What a ridiculous idea. People use Windows because other people use Windows and that's the only reason. Well, no that's not the only reason… they use Windows because it comes on their computers. These are the two reasons. The only reason that… let any one… one thing in the usual thing why does some alternative survive; only because it's better. Free software has to be twice as good. In order to get practically minded people to choose it. Of course you can hear my scorn in the term practically minded. These are people who don't value their freedom. They're fools. A fool and this freedom are soon parted. But there are plenty of fools; especially in a lot of organizations are people who believe that they are not supposed to pay attention to ethics or freedom. They are only supposed to pay attention to short-term practicalities. Which is a recipe for making bad decisions. For hurting society. But that's the way they are. So why is it that even those people some times choose free software? Because it has practical advantages. For instances it's powerful and it's reliable.

Next question

[MOC] The next question is from Subramani. Distributing the software as a free copy is user friendly but is it business friendly. Don't you think it will disturb the economic balance in the software.

[RMS] This is utterly foolish. First of all, remember that I explain that free software is a matter of freedom not price. Free software does not mean that it is gratis. But sometimes it's gratis. On the other hand some time you can get nonfree software gratis. That doesn't make it ethically legitimate, because it's still tramples your freedom. It still keeps you divided and helpless, even if you didn't have to pay. Schools in India can get Windows gratis. But it's still harmful. So the issue is not about price. The issue is about whether the software respects your freedom. And this… this… idea there is some kind of balance. I don't know what in the world he is talking about? But remember if a business is making money by subjugating people, that's bad, that's some thing we should bring to an end. There are many businesses that operate by mistreating people. And those businesses are bad. They don't have a right to continue. They deserved to be brought to an end. I won't say that nonfree software is the biggest such problem. Because, you know child labor is very common but I don't think that's mostly free software development. I think it's mostly other things. There are many ways that a business can be… can operate that is harmful to society. And we have to put in an end to that.

Or in looking at Coca Cola, poisoning people, while draining away the water supply from the people. And not only that; they murder union organizers in Colombia. So, there is a world wide boycott of Coca Cola company. Coca Cola company is, by the way, being sued in the U.S. for arranging with paramilitary [FIXME: subs..94:07] to murder union organizers in Colombia. So join the boycott. Don't buy Coke.

So I hope… I said this basically to illustrate that there are many ways a business can conduct itself unethically. And businesses that conduct itself unethically don't have a right to continue. They're not legitimate and they shouldn't be treated as legitimate. Nonfree software development is an example because what ever the program itself does, the license subjugate the users. And that's wrong.

Next question.

[MOC] Windows is supporting regional languages and it's helping the people of India but GNU doesn't have this feature. What is your suggestion in this regard?

[RMS] He is mistaken. You know, I have never given a speech where so many questions that make false statements, criticizing the free software movement in a ways that are not true. Why is it… you know I can understand not knowing. Every one of us is born completely ignorant. And every one of us, in any particular subject starts out knowing nothing. But why are peoples here are so ready to make assumptions when they don't know. Why do not admit you don't know? Why these people believes things which are false. Which clearly they don't have good evidence for.

Actually, Windows… doesn't it support all the Indian languages? And are the other hand free software does. And it is not just Windows by the way, there are many other nonfree software packages and nonfree means you can't change it. With free software you can change it. So if you want a program to support your favorite language and it's nonfree, you have to beg and plead with that developer to cater to you. But if the program is free software, you don't have to beg anybody. You can just do it. And this is what happening. People in India are adapting GNU/Linux to various different Indian languages. And if they haven't yet done your favorite language, you can start the project. You are not helpless. Launch the project to support your favorite language. You know, even tribal people can localize the system to their language. You don't have to have the one of the major recognized languages. In order to get support in free software, you just have to be willing to do the work.

Next question please.

[MOC] Sir, we would like to know how long can we continue this question and answer session?

[RMS] Well, certainly I'll do another fifteen minutes.

[MOC] Yes sir.

[RMS] Oh, Please don't call me sir. I believe in equality. And it's really a sort of bad for me if you call me sir. It might make me get in over inflated estimate of how important I am. And that will be bad for me, as well as bad for you.

The important thing here is freedom. I am just its representative.

[MOC] The next question is from Vijay Anand. The question is, “There are lots of incompatible GNU/Linux distributions. Is this a drawback to the free software movement?”

Well, we shouldn't over estimate the extent to which they're incompatible. At the source level they are almost all… they are mostly compatible, unless you are doing very obscure things. You don't need to worry about the variations when you are writing source code. They will have different binary and different packaging but that's not a very big difficulty. So, I say, no It's not a major drawback. Of course you know, having different versions of the system can be good if users… different users want them. Now let's contrast this with the kind of incompatibility that we have, that we find in the nonfree world. You'll find that Microsoft makes gross incompatibilities in each version of its systems. They makes… they deliberately make formats incompatible with everything else and protocols incompatible with everything else. They try many different ways to prevent other people from inter operating with them. And each version of a Microsoft package is likely to be incompatible with the previous version.

They impose incompatibility because they have power and they think they can get away with it. Whereas in free software world we developers don't have power. If I make a decision that you don't like, you are not stuck with it. Because you have the source code, you can change it, you can change any of my decisions. Whether I make this decision… you know, if hypothetically I choose to impose incompatibility on you, you could change it, you could take my program and modify it to compatible with whatever. Where is… you know, …even if I made a decision that you just don't like for some other reason, you can still change it. You can change any of my decisions regardless of why I made the decision, regardless of why you don't like it; you can change it. So I don't have any power over you when I develop free software. You, the users are in control of your software. So it will you generally do what you want more or less. But the developers of nonfree software, they do have power over you. And so you are stuck with their decisions.

Next question please.

[MOC] The next question is from Rakesh. “Since the source code of free software is available, it is possible for a cracker to introduce malicious code into the program and distribute binaries, so that it looks like the original. Is this a drawback to the free software movement?”

[RMS] Well, we have ways of protecting against this. For instance you can get your copies from a reputable distributor and we use digital signatures to sign our co… and we use … you know, cryptographic [FIXME: catches 1:42:48] the checksums. So that you can see the checksum that the developer publish and thus get an assurance that the version you have is the correct version.


[MOC] The next question is from Krishnan. The question is, “When do you expect the GNU HURD to be available to the public for normal use?”

[RMS] I have learned I should not try to predict that. A few months ago, the HURD developers concluded that they really should switch to a different micro kernel. And it's going to take a substantial amount of work to do that. So I'm… I'm disappointed by this delay. But it looks like that will mean some delay.

Next question please.

[MOC] The next question is from Manu Meta… Metallurgy. The question is, “Is developing free software on nonfree operating systems wrong?”

[RMS] Well, it's not exactly wrong. But it's foolish to use the nonfree operating system because you can't live in freedom as long as you do that. And your software, although it be free, is not a contribution to the free world when it doesn't… if it doesn't run on a free operating system.

And in particular you should be careful about Sun's Java platform. Never use Sun's Java platform to develop software. And at least not develop free software because Sun's Java program is not free. There are free Java platforms, but they don't have all the capabilities of the Sun's Java platform. So the danger is if you are using the Sun's Java platform you might use some features we don't have yet. And you wouldn't even know it. You won't notice because you won't notice a problem because it will work. It will work on Sun's platform. So then several months later you'll try the program on our platform and find that you did months work based on a feature we don't have and you will say “Oh! it would be so much work to redo that; that I can't do it.” So then your program won't run on a free platform at all. At least not until years go by and we have implemented a replacement for that feature. So you should use our free Java platform to develop that. Use the GNU Java platform… the GNU Java compiler and use the GNU Classpath as the libraries. Don't use Sun's Java Libraries, they are not free. So this way if you ever start to use a standard Java feature that we don't have, you'll find out immediately. And you'll be able to choose some other way of solving the problem with out wasting a lot of time.

Next question please.

[MOC] What do you think is the greatest obstacle for free software in India? How do we break them up?

[RMS I'd say the biggest obstacle for free software in India right now is the tendency of government agencies and schools to use nonfree software. It's vital to convince the schools to teach the children in India to grow up living in freedom. When Windows… Microsoft offers the schools gratis copies of Windows, the schools have to say “We are not going to accept them; we are not going to participate in teaching our kids to be addicts.”

Next question please.

[MOC] The next question is from Pankaj. The question is “Does the availability of source code make them more vulnerable to attacks?”

[RMS] Well, [FIXME 108:00] speaking the answer is just opposite. Our software is much more secure. People have various speculations about why that is the case. I don't know why, but that's what people observe.

Next question.

[MOC] This is the last question of this conference.

[RMS] Okay.

[MOC] The question is, “There was a recent controversy over the GFDL. What was the controversy?”

[RMS] Sorry, controversy over what?

[MOC] The GFDL; License.

[RMS] Oh, There are some people who don't like some of the provisions of the GFDL. The GFDL arose non-technical sections, sections that give your opinions about the… the field and so on, which are in-variant. They can't be changed or removed. The GFDL says that the actual subject matter of the work, it's designed for manuals. And the GFDL says that the actual documentation has to be free, but you could also have opinion sections which don't have any documentation but they give your opinion about the ethics of the field and so on. And those have to be preserved and can't be changed. There are people who think that this is wrong. I think that they are being too rigid in their understanding of the freedoms. People need the freedom to change the technical substance of the work. And the GFDL provides that freedom. But having the authors opinion in there somewhere doesn't interfere with your user of the work to do with technical job and doesn't interfere with your changing in the work to do a different technical job.

So if that was the last question then I guess we're done.

[MOC] We thank you sir, for this inspiring and interesting session.

[RMS interrupts] Please don't call me sir.

[MOC] We thank you Richard, for this inspiring and interesting session. You have provided us with immense knowledge over free software. And cleared many doubts pertaining to the movement. We now fully understand the importance of using free software. We assure this would have earned you many followers among the students community of our college. We find ourself…

[RMS interrupts] Happy Hacking and Good Night.

[MOC] A very Good Night to you sir.


Contributors (in alphabetical order): Krishnan, Saravana Manickam, Vijay Kumar, Vimal Joseph.