Richard Stallman, a free software movement activist and programmer received an invitation from Microsoft which he accepted by sharing his views on a lot of things on September 4, 2019, at the Microsoft campus.
In a blog post, Richard Stallman also clarified that the purpose of the invitation was not to speak in the hope of seducing him away from the free software cause as discussed by many open-source software experts.
“There are those who think that Microsoft invited me to speak in the hope of seducing me away from the free software cause. Some fear that it might even have succeeded. I am sure the Microsoft staff I addressed saw that that could never happen. I resisted Steve Jobs’s snow job in 1989 or 1990; I am no easy mark for those who want me to change my views,” Stallman wrote in his blog post.
Stallman also takes issues with Microsoft’s “contributions to open source” and labeled them as “no contribution whatsoever to the Free World.” According to Stallman, there is a deep difference between the open-source and the free software.
For a quick background, Richard Stallman critiqued Microsoft many a time. He also famously called Microsoft “a great satan” in the past.
Stallman, however, is of the opinion that people “should not maintain a burning grudge over actions that ended years ago.” “We should judge Microsoft in the future by what it does then,” Richard Stallman said.
Stallman thinks the Redmond giant can take a few steps to increase its participation in the open-source community. He gave as much as 10 suggestions to Microsoft, and these are:
- Help keep computers unlocked (no “secure boot” that restricts what systems we can run). Truly secure boot means YOU specify what system is allowed to run in your computer.
- Help make peripherals safe — no back doors in their embedded software. This applies to keyboards, cameras, disks and memory sticks, since they contain computers and with preinstalled software that can be replaced through a universal back door. Crackers do that, installing malware into them, which becomes an advanced persistent threat. I can explain more if desired.
- Publicly take back Microsoft’s attacks on copyleft made in the 2000s. Ballmer called the GPL a “cancer”. Allchin called it “un-American”.
- Encourage copylefting of application and library code, maybe even system and tool code.
- Direct GitHub to promote correct and clear use of licenses and the best use of copyleft (GPL version 3-or-later).
- Help fight against copyright on interfaces.
- Publish the hardware interface of products such as Hololens so we can run them without any nonfree software. Even if our software is years behind, that will be better than not being able to use these devices at all.
- Release the source code of Windows under the GNU GPL.