Richard Stallman Calls Azure Sphere OS a Positive Step

Apr 30, 2018

Stallman is glad that Microsoft will respect user’s freedom.

Earlier this month, Microsoft shook the world with the announcement of Azure Sphere OS, an operating system designed to run on IoT devices. The OS is powered by a customized version of Linux kernel. This marks the first product by Microsoft that runs on the Linux kernel. What’s even more interesting is that Microsoft will be shipping a product that has code released under the GNU GPL v2. We talked to Galen Hunt, Partner Managing Director, Microsoft Azure Sphere, who confirmed that Microsoft will comply with the licenses used for the code.

Last week we met with Richard M. Stallman in his hometown of Boston to get his reaction to the announcement, “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 users freedom with regards to that particular program. Well, I’m glad about that,” said Stallman.

However, he also criticized the community that coined the term "open source" to make copyleft licenses more acceptable for companies. He said that Open Source has done harm to the mission and goal of the Free Software Foundation, “...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 as freedom. Freedom is crucial." he said. Stallman said that he didn’t use the term as it would have buried the idea behind the Free Software movement.

When asked how he really feels about Microsoft releasing code that’s guided by the license he wrote, Stallman sounded positive, “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.”

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