Closing talk at FOSDEM 2007

Usually the end of FOSDEM is the occasion for newcomers to observe RMS in person and maybe get a true sample of a beautiful troll about Vi and GNU Emacs.

Hopefully, it did not happen this time. Instead, we got a talk from Georg Greve, president of the Free Software Foundation of Europe.

What a change!

Richard Stallman is very libertarian, in the American sense of the word. He advocates free software as a way to do what he wants to do, the way he wants. Richard Stallman deals mainly with defending freedom for the sake of itself and invites hacker to follow him in this fight because he believes that only freedom in software allows hackers to do what they like to do. That’s very individualistic — centered on the well-being of the hacker as a single entity.

Goerg Greve, on the contrary, advocates free software at a political level. He appeals to the sense of community, and invites his followers to group together and fight against the evils that threaten our social future by restricting freedom and innovation. Moreover, he explains how to do that strategically.

I’m relieved: at least once in a while I could see someone standing up not for the sake of free software itself and individual freedom, but for the future of the community as a whole.

And last but certainly not least, Georg Greve is young, healthy, dresses carefully and shows a clear balance in his life. That’s a far more effective model to follow than whatever RMS could ever dream to be.