Founder of the FSF, creator of GNU, and the final boss of software freedom
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Richard M. Stallman (rms) is perhaps the world's best-known free software advocate. He founded the Free Software Foundation and played a key role in the conception and development of GNU operating system.
Rise to fame
Stallman lived in a restrictive time. Progress was restricted by rules and copyrights. Copyrights prevented computer knowledge from being used or explored by others, and security prevented users from using or customizing their computers as they willed.
As a result, Stallman became involved in a movement which sought to engineer software with fewer restrictions.
The famous "I'd just like to interject for a moment" Stallman speech where he explains in the most pedantic way possible, that GNU/Linux is the proper terminology.
—RMS, boring nearly everyone
In Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, author Steven Levy called Stallman the "last true computer hacker."
Readers of the comic XKCD sent Stallman a Japanese sword after the comic stated that he should own one.
In October 2011, Stallman posted a huge, 10,000 word rider that goes along with any speaking engagements he agrees to.
Stallman is known for being a bit of a weirdo, and a beardo. The rider lists out all kinds of requirements for having him speak to your group. These preferences include everything from not wanting to be identified on transit, to not using a web browser at all - ever. And requiring internet access that won't make him put down his name.
Please pass this section to everyone who will be helping me directly in any fashion during the visit. It is nice of you to want to be kind to me, but please don't offer help all the time. In general I am used to managing life on my own; when I need help, I am not shy about asking. So there is no need to offer to help me. Moreover, being constantly offered help is actually quite distracting and tiresome. So please, unless I am in grave immediate danger, please don't offer help.
While Stallman "doesn't want help," the rest of the rider is painfully specific and demanding.
One situation where I do not need help, let alone supervision, is in crossing streets. I grew up in the middle of the world's biggest city, full of cars, and I have crossed streets without assistance even in the chaotic traffic of Bangalore and Delhi. Please just leave me alone when I cross streets.
Stallman demands that you do not help him crossing the street.
But if you want to cook for me, or invite me to a restaurant that specializes in just one thing, or invite me to dinner with a preset menu, you need to know what I dislike:
Don't ever try to decide what food I should eat without asking me.
- eggplant, usually (there are occasional exceptions)
- hot pepper
- liver (even in trace quantities)
- stomach and intestine; other organ meats
- cooked tuna
- egg yolk, if the taste is noticeable, except when boiled completely hard
- many strong cheeses, especially those with green fungus
- desserts that contain fruit or liqueur flavors
- sour fruits, such as grapefruit and many oranges
- coffee (though weak coffee flavor can be good in desserts)
- the taste of alcohol (so I don't drink anything stronger than wine)
Stallman is a very picky eater.
Finally, he would rather stay at someone's house than a hotel, and better that they have a parrot.
If you can find a host for me that has a friendly parrot, I will be very very glad… DON'T buy a parrot figuring that it will be a fun surprise for me. To acquire a parrot is a major decision: it is likely to outlive you. If you don't know how to treat the parrot, it could be emotionally scarred and spend many decades feeling frightened and unhappy. If you buy a captured wild parrot, you will promote a cruel and devastating practice, and the parrot will be emotionally scarred before you get it. Meeting that sad animal is not an agreeable surprise.
If you're wondering what a speaking engagement from Stallman looks like, here he is, in all his glory, speaking and picking something out from his foot and then eating it on stage.
"I'd just like to interject for a moment."
- Sings the Free Software Song in public, at any time with no accompaniment