Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Richard Stallman on Free Software in Education

Richard Stallman and I emailed back and forth several times before he agree to an interview with me on Free Software in Education. Not that Richard is not passionate about Free Software in Education, but he has some strict requirements about the presentation of his material. As the founder of the Free Software Movement, he is both passionate and principled, and doesn't want to dilute his message.

When I called him last Saturday to start the interview (and yes, the date I give in the recording is wrong...), he asked if I remembered his two conditions for the interview. I said that I did, but he repeated them for me: to avoid common errors, I needed first to use the term "Free Software" only and not "Open Source," so as not to associate his work with that label; and second, to not confuse GNU and Linux. As you will hear in the interview, Richard cares very much about being exact with language. And, I think, for good reason.

In the interview, Richard defines the use of the word "free" in the context of software. He also defines the four essential freedoms that are behind the Free Software Movement, and the four reasons that he believes that schools should use exclusively Free Software (see also his essay on this topic). And lots more--including the fact that he likes Wikipedia, which makes A TON OF SENSE since all text at Wikipedia is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License--which Richard wrote! That might help to explain why Eric Raymond was so vocal about not liking it in his interview with me...

I think you will find this interview interesting listening.

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