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1/6/2006
02:09 PM
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A Rare Glimpse Into Richard Stallman's World

In a series of interviews, the founder of the Free Software Foundation discusses some of the thinking behind his crusades and achievements in promoting free and open software.

One man, upon learning about Stallman's run-in in November with security over an RFID badge in Tunisia, asked about tracking technology. Stallman, taking breaks from munching on shrimp as he sat beside a serving plate at the buffet table, talked to the man about fighting it, protesting and refusing to wear badges with RFID.

He explained that cell phones can also be used for tracking people and that he won't use one until someone makes one that works entirely on free software.

Though Stallman takes a tough tone when he criticizes what's being done with technology, he and his friends and supporters were cheerful and smiling as they stood in the cold outside a record store at Union Square for several hours, displaying signs that read: "Sharing is Friendship."

Though clearly tired from several days of speaking, working at the Software Freedom Law Center, he said: "I'm always happy when I'm protesting."

Bruce Perens, vice president of Sourcelabs said he admires Stallman but sometimes finds himself on the opposite side of issues – something he said is almost impossible to avoid. He recalled a lecture in which he credited Stallman with being the giant upon whose shoulders the open source movement is founded. Stallman, who insists on a distinction between free and open software, covered his shoulders protectively.

"He's entirely consistent and uncompromising and I think the world needs someone like that," Perens said.

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