Interviews

Richard Stallman talks about Microsoft Linux (Azure Sphere OS)

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I sat down with Richard M Stallman at the Cloud Foundry Summit for a long overdue interview. We discussed a wide range of topics, including Microsoft Azure OS, which uses the Linux kernel. Here is the edited transcript of the interview:

[You can watch the entire interview on Patreon]

TFiR: Microsoft is working on Azure Sphere OS, which uses the Linux kernel. If I am not wrong this is going to be the first product by Microsoft that will have GNU GPL v2 code it in.

“That’s good. That program is free software. It’s released under a free software license I wrote, which requires redistributors to respect the freedom of users and Microsoft is even going to respect the user’s freedom with regards to that particular program. Well, I’m glad about that.

However, I have to acknowledge that the people who coined the term open source as a reaction against the free software movement have done us a lot of harm. Until 1998 as our software, including the GNU Linux operating systems spread, it made people aware of our ideas, not with 100 percent effectiveness, but sometimes it did.

But in 1998 they coined the term open source to disconnect our software from our ethical ideas and they were fairly effective at that. Since then, we have to work hard to teach people, even the users of our software, that there’s such a thing as the free software movement. That it’s a movement for their freedom, that this is not just a matter of more convenient, more reliable software. Those are secondary desirable things, but they’re not as important is freedom. Freedom is crucial.

So we do the work. We continue teaching people about the free software movement. We no longer get help for our software as much, but we still do it. The people who started open source, they hoped that we would feel pressured to use the term open source too. And if I had been thinking in a short-term way, I would’ve done it, but I realized that if I did that our ideas would be totally buried. But that if I continue to say free software and use it to distinguish our ideas from there’s at least we would have a way of getting known, making our ideas known to people.”

TFiR: How do you feel that Microsoft is now going to release something that has GNU GPL code in it?

“It’s just a beginning, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of non-free software in it. I see it as a small step. Remember, the goal is to kick non-free software out of your life; kick it out of our society. We should all be free. So when you compare this step with that goal, I see it as a small positive step.”