The Setup


What do people use to get stuff done?

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Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman

Freedom campaigner


Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Movement. I campaign for computer users' freedom -- for instance, your freedom to control the software you use, to redistribute the software to others. Software that respects the user's freedom is what we call free software.

In 1983 I announced the plan to develop a complete free operating system called GNU. The system that millions of people use, and often refer to as "Linux", is a variant of the GNU system.

What hardware do you use?

I am using a Lemote Yeelong, a netbook with a Loongson chip and a 9-inch display. This is my only computer, and I use it all the time. I chose it because I can run it with 100% free software even at the BIOS level.

And what software?

To initialize the machine and boot, it uses PMON. Above that, it uses gNewSense, one of the totally free GNU/Linux distros.

I spend most of my time using Emacs. I run it on a text console, so that I don't have to worry about accidentally touching the mouse-pad and moving the pointer, which would be a nuisance. I read and send mail with Emacs (mail is what I do most of the time).

I switch to the X console when I need to do something graphical, such as look at an image or a PDF file.

Most of the time I do not have an Internet connection. Once or twice or maybe three times a day I connect and transfer mail in and out. Before sending mail, I always review and revise the outgoing messages. That gives me a chance to catch mistakes and faux pas.

What would be your dream setup?

I would ideally like to have a machine with the speed and memory of a laptop, and the display size of a laptop too, combined with the same freedom that I have now on the Yeelong.

Until I can have them both, freedom is my priority. I've campaigned for freedom since 1983, and I am not going to surrender that freedom for the sake of a more convenient computer.

I do hope to switch soon to a newer model of Yeelong with a 10-inch display.

This interview is available under the BY-ND Creative Commons license.