Richard M. Stallman today officially launched the Free Software
Foundation of India (FSF-India), the first affiliate in Asia of the
Free Software Foundation with a speech at the Freedom First!
Conference on Free Software in Trivandrum, Kerala, India.
Yesterday, he was received as an honored state guest by government
officials to discuss the philosophy behind the movement and the use
of free software as a viable, cost-effective alternative for
government, educational institutions, and businesses, as well as
for all the people of India.
"You are entitled to the freedom that free software gives you."
Stallman said. It isn't just in India that people are entitled to
an alternative to proprietary software. The inauguration of
FSF-India is a step forward in the expansion of the Free Software
Foundation. Free software communities around the world are formally
organizing, as FSF-India has now done, with a goal of better
assisting businesses, governments, and educators everywhere to
understand the philosophical ideals behind free software and how
these ideals directly create practical advantages to those who use
and create it. Stallman continued "Computer users in India, as
elsewhere, deserve the freedom to share and change software, the
way cooks share and change recipes. So I am pleased to inaugurate
the Free Software Foundation of India, which will promote the use
and the development of free software in this country. At first,
FSF-India will help individuals, communities, schools, governments
and enterprises in India make use of the free software that the
rest of the world has already developed. Over time, FSF-India will
lead Indian programmers to contribute to the human knowledge that
free software represents."
"We feel a developing country like India has a special stake in
promoting and encouraging the use of free software," said Satish
Babu, of FSF-India. "It also is a plus, of course, that there are
no software license fees to pay. This is of great importance now
that proprietary software companies are switching to a licensing
business model for software, meaning you must in effect rent the
software and continue to pay for it forever. With free software, if
you wish, you can download the software for free, or if a business
or school wishes to buy one CD, it can legally install the same CD
in every computer on site, without having to pay one penny to
anyone, ever again. But there are deeper, more significant
benefits. Here in India, we do need to constantly strive for
cost-effective solutions. The digital divide is of concern
everywhere but especially is it so here in India. Unless we act,
the digital divide in India is likely to widen, particularly so
because of the country's many languages and its uneven literacy
levels. Free software can help level the playing field for emerging
nations like India and bridge this divide by encouraging
solidarity, collaboration and voluntary community work amongst
programmers and computer users and invigorate an indigenous
"Schools in India can benefit by redistributing free software to
save on license fees", Stallman said. "But free software offers a
deeper benefit for education: the knowledge in free software is
public knowledge, not secret. The sealed black box of a proprietary
software system is designed to keep people in the dark. With free
software, students can study the software they use, to learn how it
works. They can write improvements to the software, and thus learn
the craft of software development--which usually consists of
improving existing programs."
Dr. Stallman is President and founder of the Free Software
Foundation, head quartered in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. In 1984
Stallman began the development of the GNU operating system, which
today in its GNU/Linux variants is used by an estimated 20 million
About GNU: GNU is a Free Software Unix-like operating system.
Development of GNU began in 1984.
http://www.gnu.org/gnu/the-gnu-project.html gives more information
about GNU and its history.
GNU/Linux is the integrated combination of the GNU operating
system with the kernel, Linux, written by Linus Torvalds in 1991.
The various versions of GNU/Linux have an estimated 20 million
Some people call the GNU/Linux system "Linux", but this misnomer
leads to confusion (people cannot tell whether you mean the whole
system or the kernel, one part), and spreads an inaccurate picture
of how, when and where the system was developed. Making a
consistent distinction between GNU/Linux, the whole operating
system, and Linux, the kernel, is the best way to clear up the
confusion. See http://www.gnu.org/gnu/linux-and-gnu.html for more
About the Free Software Foundation: The Free Software
Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer
users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer
programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in
freedom) software---particularly the GNU operating system and its
GNU/Linux variants---and free documentation for free software.
Their web site, located at http://www.gnu.org, is an important
source of information about GNU/Linux. They are head quartered in
Boston, MA, USA.
About the Free Software Foundation of India: FSF-India is head
quartered in Trivandrum, Kerala, India, and is dedicated to
eliminating restrictions on copying, redistribution, understanding,
and modification of computer programs by promoting the development
and use of free software in all areas of computing---but most
particularly, by helping to develop the GNU operating system. Their
homepage is http://www.fsf.org.in.
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