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GNU is Not Unix

Stallman Goes to India 586

SureshD writes "The Hindu is reporting on a 40 minute long meeting between Richard Stallman and the Indian President - Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. After the interview, RMS said that the President was 'receptive' to his views that development of software should be seen as a political and social issue and not just from the technological point of view. Interestingly, the article mentions that the President had prepared for the meeting by downloading and reading Stallman's biography (Free as in Freedom) from the Internet."
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Stallman Goes to India

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  • Full text (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:35AM (#8156748)
    Kalam, Stallman discuss open source software

    By Sandeep Dikshit

    NEW DELHI, JAN. 31. The President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, last Thursday played host to two radically divergent poles of the global software industry.

    The first to meet the President was Richard Stallman, the leading light of the free and open source software (FOSS) movement.

    Ironically, the people waiting in the Presidential anteroom for the interaction to end were people from Microsoft.

    Dr. Stallman has devoted his life to countering Microsoft's policy of selling software that cannot be changed because its code is kept a secret. It also cannot be shared because of licensing restrictions.

    Talking to The Hindu, Dr. Stallman said the President was "receptive'' to his views that development of software should be seen as a political and social issue and not just from the technological point of view.

    At a meeting that lasted 40 minutes, they discussed the need to give people an alternative way to use computers by popularising open source software (OSS).

    "The President said this was a beautiful concept,'' said Dr. Stallman. Mr. Kalam had prepared for the meeting by downloading Dr. Stallman's biography from the Internet which in keeping with the FOSS movement guru's philosophy is available free of cost.

    The two also went over several common interests, including the use of software in space programming. For the first time, the Mars Rovers vehicle is using OSS and it is reported to be functioning well.

    They also reminisced on the development work on several software programmes in which both had taken interest.

    Besides explaining the political philosophy of FOSS movement, Dr. Stallman said he also spoke to the President about the real intention behind Microsoft's plan to spread the use of computers in schools which was "akin to the colonial system of recruiting the local elite to help keep others in line.''

    "I hope my discussion had some influence on the President and he will be able to resist being used that way.''

    Dr. Stallman gave up a cushy teaching job in a prestigious American university after he perceived that "computer colonisation'' was spreading rapidly.

    "There were only two options. Either I stopped using computers or I help everybody to escape. I chose the latter,'' he said.

    He explained the concept behind FOSS. The word "free'' did not mean giving the software gratis.

    Rather, it denoted the freedom to control the computer because the seller of FOSS also provided the source code or the manner in which a particular software was constructed.

    "This way you can see how it works, you can change it and also share the software.''

    By taking to FOSS, India would be able to cut down on the outflow of foreign exchange which was going to become very large in the near future.

    So far, Microsoft licences were not being forced on individuals, but in the coming days, proprietary software companies would make it impossible for individuals to make copies clandestinely.

    "The flood (outflow of foreign exchange) will then become a torrent,'' he said. Free software, in contrast, would encourage local information technology developers to innovate and adapt the software constantly. The result will be that money will circulate in the local economy, he said.

    Copyright 2000 - 2003 The Hindu

  • by leoaugust (665240) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [tsuguaoel]> on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:55AM (#8156818) Journal

    The Indian President is tech-savvy and has on earlier occasions tried to promote Linux. He was really a rocket scientist before he was appointed the President.

    In May 2003, he gave a speech in which he said "said it is 'unfortunate' that proprietary software - such as Windows - is so popular and has called for broader adoption of open source products." More details here - ZDNet UK - News - Indian President adds salt to MS wounds [zdnet.co.uk]

    From the article, notes on a conversation with Bill Gates:

    President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam recounted a conversation earlier this year with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. "We were discussing the future challenges in information technology, including the issues related to software security," Kalam said, according to a transcript of the speech. "I made a point that we look for open-source codes so that we can easily introduce the users built security algorithms. Our discussions became difficult, since our views were different."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:56AM (#8156822)
    Enough of his friends must have yelled at him about it, but over the last 5 years when I've seen RMS, he's almost always had clean hair (or been-on-airplanes-too-long hair), and clean clothes.
  • by jkrise (535370) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:59AM (#8156831) Journal
    Although this is true, it is also to be remembered that the Preisdent of India is highly respected in technical and defence circles. As such, his views and leanings have a lot of bearing on the political decision-making process.

    While launching the IIIT in Pune, the President made a pointed reference to his meeting with Mr. Gates, and made some brilliant points in exhorting the local IT community to further the cause of Free and Open Source software.

    India is indeed fortunate to have such an eminently qualified person at the apex seat, since IT is synonymous with national security these days....

    -
  • POI's website (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:59AM (#8156833)
    Dr.Kalam's website at http://presidentofindia.nic.in/ [presidentofindia.nic.in] , runs on Linux and Apache [netcraft.com] . Undoubtedly one of the most qualified persons for the job, he headed India's defence research body, the DRDO and was one of the key members of the team planning and implementing India's second round of nuclear tests in 1998 (India tested its first nuclear device in 1974).
    Also a bachelor like India's executive head,the Prime Minister.
  • Synopsis (Score:4, Informative)

    by illuminata (668963) on Monday February 02, 2004 @05:09AM (#8156859) Journal
    Stallman basically told the the president of India that they could have and distribute programmers for free, rather than have to pay for some evil, greedy programmers who won't even show you their goods. Stallman's programmers come from all around the world and are completely open. His only requirement is that the terms of their release and distribution be kept in their chest pocket, and that the president give them credit if he modifies them in any way.
  • Re:PhD? (Score:2, Informative)

    by provocative (725595) on Monday February 02, 2004 @06:31AM (#8157032)
    From www.stallman.org:

    In 2001 he received a second honorary doctorate, from the University of Glasgow

  • Re:Surname (Score:2, Informative)

    by WhoDaresWins (601501) on Monday February 02, 2004 @06:55AM (#8157082)
    has no one else noticed the surname of the author?
    By Sandeep Dikshit
    I would almost say a this is a troll article if it wasn't so positive
    Well I can understand how a surname like Dikshit would sound strange to an American, but its a common surname in India and pronounced quite differently from what it might appear. Its not pronounced as Dick Shit but rather as Deekshit where the 'd' and 't' are soft (The 'd' is pronounced like the word "thee" as in the old English thou) so it would be like "thee kshith". Quite a few Indians prefer the alternative spelling Dixit. I suppose the ancestor of one of those Indians knew enough English and foresight to choose an alternative way of spelling it :)
  • Re:Power Shift (Score:5, Informative)

    by justin_speers (631757) <jaspeers AT comcast DOT net> on Monday February 02, 2004 @06:59AM (#8157092)
    India's tech is booming

    The U.S. still imports way more jobs than it imports, and India's tech is booming based solely on the fact that it is low cost. Try reading some alternative viewpoints [townhall.com] on the outsourcing subject.

    Japan has all the cutting edge electronics and techonologies
    And those Japanese companies also create a lot of jobs in the U.S., and the Japanese economy isn't doing so hot. Your point?

    China is destined to be the next super power
    With no economic freedom and the vast majority of it's citizens living in horrid poverty, I doubt it.

    Korea is trying to get nukes
    NORTH Korea already has them.

    The USA has mad cow disease, a puppet for a president, a huge debt, a slow economy and we're spending billions more on rebuilding a country that we destroyed while looking for weapons that didn't exist.

    Slow economy? I'm seeing growth right now, what are you talking about? It was slow a year ago, times are changing... mad cow disease gets a big "so what" from me, it's more paranoia than reality, it does more damage to the beef industry than the general population. And a puppet for a President? Watch this "puppet" obliterate John Kerry in the next election.

    It's really lame his editorializing was so lacking in any substance, and yet modded up as insightful.
  • Re:POI's website (Score:4, Informative)

    by zungu (588387) on Monday February 02, 2004 @07:07AM (#8157110) Journal
    Also, he is a qualified Aeronautical engineer. He is the key architect of India's rocket launching capabilities. Also, an erudite poet and musician. Keeps his hair long and wears informal blue shirts most of the time. Spends time talking to school kids on all his visits. Cool guy, in short.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 02, 2004 @07:16AM (#8157128)
  • Re:Sandeep Dikshit?? (Score:3, Informative)

    by The Cydonian (603441) on Monday February 02, 2004 @07:55AM (#8157266) Homepage Journal
    No. Dikshit, or Dixit, is a popular surname up in the north. The surname particularly shot to prominence because of Madhuri Dixit, a popular Hindi film actress in the late 80's and 90's.
  • by jayan (170728) on Monday February 02, 2004 @09:10AM (#8157599)
    (Offtopic)
    According to netcraft (http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph/?host=www.pre sidentofindia.nic.in) President's website was running MS windows sometime back. Now that runs on Linux.
    Good work.
  • Re:They all do that. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 02, 2004 @09:38AM (#8157709)
    Richard has gotten better, he's learned to bathe more. I've known him for almost 20 years: yes, it's still a problem for him to bathe. (Yes, he is hydrophobic, and scared of plants as well). But he's gotten a lot better about it over 20 years.

    Oddly enough, Richard can also Balkan folkdance quite well, and has a habit of walking up to every woman at a party and offering her chocolate or groups. A bit odd, but quite harmless. A mail/female trans-sexual friend of mine considered it her coming of age when Richard did the chocolate thing to her at a convention.

    And *OF COURSE* seeing Richard is a price-gouging maneuver against Microsoft. But it's also a legitimate way to free up resources for Indian programmers to produce software and have tools rebuilt for their own needs, a way not under direct US corporate or federal control. This is incredibly appealing to the leader of a country with millions of highly educated citizens who have trouble finding work, and have too much time on their hands. Or for the leader of a country with many densely populated areas of great poverty: providing them computer access is a huge political and economic step, but it's a lot cheaper if you can save half the price of your systems by using freeware.

    This is a *BIG DEAL*. And since the Indian president is Jesuit-trained, he's used to people chopping logic at him to convince him of absolutely absurd things. (Discussiing Christianity with Jesuits is a hoot and a holler, but discussing *POLITICS* with them is an education in and of itself.) He'll come out of the discussion not necessarily convinced of his visitor's beliefs but thoroughly understanding the *implications* of it.

    India would love to outsource US software development. But studying the tools from the GNU/Linux world, such as Richard's GCC compiler and the Samba file-server for Windows, actually gives them a much deeper understanding of how things work than buying and using Windows or Windows development tools, which hide way too much inside the unpublished source code.
  • by RebusKneebus (741115) on Monday February 02, 2004 @12:26PM (#8159345)
    The article refers to "Dr. Stallman" and his leaving a "cushy teaching job". Stallman's own bio at stallman.org points out that he only has a BA in physics, and he was a staff programmer at MIT, not an professor.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:56PM (#8161789)
    As a software engineer in India, with a personal lifestyle equivalent or better than most american software engineers (low living costs, you see? for example, I rent a plush 3 bedroom apartment,fully furnished, and it costs me Rs 12000 a month. That is approximately $250 a month, and its in prime location), I certainly wouldn't call this a sweat shop. In american dollars, we might not be making much money, but we make a LOT of money in indian currency.

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