back to article Thief open-sources Richard Stallman's laptop, passport, visa

Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, was distressed to find his personal belongings had been liberally distributed sans GPL - his prized laptop, wallet and passport were nicked at a conference in Argentina. The snatch happened as fans of the Emacs author shouted over each other in an attempt to talk to …


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          1. Mint Sauce

            Re: @OzBob

            Linus only wrote the kernel, mind you, and it takes a lot more than just a kernel to have a working OS. The whole GNU stack, for example.

            Then there's the small matter of Andrew Tanenbaum and Minix of course... I still have that book :)

      1. eulampios

        Re: Can we at least be a little bit smug?

        Please don't forget about GNU Emacs.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Can we at least be a little bit smug?

        What you young'uns fail to realise is that not long prior to MS et al all software was free. It was regarded as research and shared.

        The people that accuse him of being demented are living on the results of 40 years of exactly the philosophy they're trying to ridicule and without which we'd be having this discussion over steam fax machines.

        1. Eddie Edwards

          Re: Can we at least be a little bit smug?

          I guess you've never heard of AT&T UNIX. Stallman's petulance far predates Microsoft.

          Anyway, his software isn't free in the sense that research is free. No research paper says "you can use the results of this research so long as you give away the complete design for any product you make with them". This idea is a clever invention of Stallman's which serves his political purpose. Equating it to old-style giving-away of research is profoundly disingenuous on his part.

          If Newton had done that and set a precedent, never mind steam fax machines, we'd have had almost no progress at all. Stallman seems hell-bent on making this happen in computing. Thankfully, the talented are now moving to MIT and BSD licenses, so we have things like LLVM compiling to iOS, and the world is a much better place for it.

          1. Displacement Activity

            @EE Re: Can we at least be a little bit smug?

            Agreed. As someone who started on Unix 25 years ago, and who uses gcc, emacs, and Linux every day, I can't help wondering if RMS is the one person who *really* screwed Unix.

    1. DavCrav

      Re: Can we at least be a little bit smug?


      Root mean square?

  1. Nick Kew

    Different culture

    The only person to have told me in unprompted email that he has a 'pirate' copy of my book is an Argentine. Coincidence?

    (though to be fair, he is also a bona fide developer of open source software and has evidently made good use of the book in that work).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey RMS

    I have a nearly-gnu Macbook you can have.

  3. OzBob
    Thumb Down

    Tell me this is not churlish and petulant behaviour

    "giving the Han solo award to the rebel fleet."

    1. Uncle Siggy

      Re: Tell me this is not churlish and petulant behaviour

      This documentary becomes propaganda at the 8 minute mark, as the sinister music is queued and the girl characterized Bill's voice. I am a proponent of (F)OSS and grateful for all the contributions to my career. I don't really use Windows because I want to, but company has me in both worlds. Are there other professionals out there uncomfortable when the "community" geekily emerge into the sunlight spewing dogma while squinting and blinking?

  4. Spoonsinger
    Paris Hilton

    The thief was only being positive in the freedom dimension!

    Paris - because she is too, (apparently)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Divine Justice, in a way

    For so many years he was telling me it was immoral to earn money the way I did.

    Remember Stallman, Property is Theft!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the thief is as brainless as most seem to be then perhaps the story will end well, like for this defcon hacker:

  7. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Silly boy!

    He should have held a public referendum amongst the users of his bag, just to tell the Argies that said users were determined to remain the owners.....

  8. Simpson

    If they were ever to make a movie about Stallman, I can't decide if he should be played by Alvin, Theodore, Simon, Chip, or Dale.

  9. Chad H.


    Thats that Vi clone, right?

    1. Mint Sauce

      Re: Emacs?

      Eight Megs And Constantly Swapping.

      Oh, happy days. ELIZA, where are you now? ;-)

  10. feanor

    Don't mess with RMS! The man will rightly be regarded as the equivalent of Alan Turing in the future. an odd personality certainly; ridiculed because of it and worse. But when people gain a proper perspective of the approach to technology he has championed he will be nominated for a nobel prize.

    1. dlc.usa


      "But when people gain a proper perspective of the approach to technology he has championed he will be nominated for a nobel prize."

      Unless the Bill Gates of our planet buy up enough influence to quietly outlaw free software while everybody is busy kicking the champion, especially while he's down. Then MS will finally rule the Net and everybody will live happily ever after.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Turing invented computing. RMS invented the worlds worst vi clone and shat on software reuse.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Argentinians are well known for wanting ownership of things that the current users would rather keep hold of.

    1. Jeebus

      Not very good in an actual fight though.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    10 years in the pokey should be fair punishment

    It's bad enough to steal but to add insult to injury deserves an appropriate punishment. Ten or more years in a hard labor prison should be a useful means to educate the thief.

  13. PassiveSmoking

    While this isn't as bad as The Inquirer's gloating over Rieser and making light of what he did to his victims, it's still pretty despicable. As much as I don't like the guy, and believe me I don't, I wouldn't derive any pleasure from anybody having valuables stolen, especially not important travel documents and CERTAINLY not medication.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh say it is not so!

    Seeig how stall man gleefully loves to bless the death of everyone famous it is a shame it was not a thief but a gun wielding crack head who shot the fat soap-free Buddha of free tardians and the world would be such a great place now that he was gone.

  15. Anomalous Cowturd

    @AC 22:45 GMT

    You Sir, are an arse.

    1. DavCrav

      Re: @AC 22:45 GMT

      "You Sir, are an arse."

      I had hoped that the bold 'arse' was a hyperlink to a definition.

      1. M Gale

        Re: @AC 22:45 GMT

        I imagine the moderators would look down on hyperlinks to Goatse and quickly hit the "zap" button.

        Well, after a quick chuckle.

  16. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    For Control of Worlds, One Needs/Feeds/Seeds/Breeds Power with Words in Entangling Strings

    You have to watch the demented ones.

    One anorexic loony in a loincloth and we lost a whole sub-continent ! ….. Yet Another Anonymous coward Posted Tuesday 12th June 2012 20:19 GMT

    And the current metadatamorph of that past reality is, Yet Another Anonymous coward …… In these postmodern times, you have to try and watch the really smart ones. One fool false move to oppose them and you have lost control of the earth and planets! ....... and there would surely be those who would say that is already the reality and actuality.

    Do you know who/what controls your existence and prepares your future environment? Care to hazard an informed guess?

    Care to dare raise the reality bar to new enlightening heights and provide global lead, El Reg, or are you content to follow such outlandish/alien/novel/noble/Nobel events from the safe and secure rump that is for camp followers hailing support in the obscurity of the rear?

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: For Control of Worlds, One Needs/Feeds/Seeds/Breeds Power with Words in Entangling Strings

      And in support of the above, here is a tasty tester of virtual hors d'oeuvre which was prepared earlier, and as long ago as yesterday .......

      <blockquote>amanfromMars on June 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm said: …. in a reply and a muse on


      Would this here ……. And whenever any assurances that may be sought and/or given, Comrade Agent Revolver, are not from just any roadmap master(s)/developer(s) but from Command and Control of Cloud Centres/Core CodedD Source Nodes in the Greatest of Great Games, is IT Really Serious Stuff guaranteeing Virtual Roadmap Master Developments …… SMARTRu AIMissions?

      For those who would care dare share in order to win win and never ever lose, is IT not just still a Game for Immaculate Power and Commendable Control of Live Operational Virtual Environments, for IT also Creates the Future with Zero Need of the Past in its Present Phorms. …… be an Advanced IntelAIgent Development of that there …….

      An alien view on such matters would posit it most certainly is at least that, and so much more too, although a great deal of all of that would be yet to be said because of the MkUltraSensitive Compartmented Information nature of the Intellectual Property to be Presented in Future Reality Virtual Derivatives, and which are an Absolutely Fabulous Fabless Hedge with an Infinite Variety of LOVE* Options for Prime Time Protection from Controlled CyberSpace, against Past Pitifully Primitive and Pedestrian Performances with Failed Programs in Poor Projects.

      *Live Operational Virtual Environments </blockquote>

      And a little something different for type Silicon Valley Bankers to invest in/throw flash fast ca$h at to ensure point lead in stealthy invisible sorties? Or should that be a pleasure the Bank of £ngland would be remiss in not supplying if a Mighty Blighty CyberSpace Flight Operation? Certainly the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street has proven to be a tad catastrophically slow in getting to grips with global events and Man management of late.

    2. PassiveSmoking

      Re: For Control of Worlds, One Needs/Feeds/Seeds/Breeds Power with Words in Entangling Strings

      Looks like Stallman isn't the only guy to have had his meds stolen recently.

  17. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    All your tough handbook is belongs to us.

    Well, looking at this review, I'd also have tears in my eyes if my Lemote Yeelong said "so long":

    I mean, it has "impressive eyeglasses" and all.

    "a 160GB οf tough handbook аrе void" - Presumably the EMACS quick start guide?

    <<== Impressive eyeglasses.

    (P.S. Best of luck to RMS. South of the equator ain't no picnic).

  18. bailey86

    Donate for a new one

    Could someone find and post the link to where we can donate towards a new one?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Donate for a new one

      Very noble. That "someone" could be you - try or in order to satisfy your altruistic fervour.

      1. bailey86

        Re: Donate for a new one

        Ummm... oh yes, Google, seems to be some sort of search site - v good.

        Nope - still can't find a donation site anywhere - so I still thought I'd ask if anyone knew where a donation site was located.

        Let's be clear on this - if RMS wasn't around and FOSS didn't exist your world would be very different. Probably, no free internet, IBM or MS controlled paid-for email, etc etc

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Let's be clear on this"

          More search terms for you to try out now that you've learned how to use google (in the interests of balance, should point out there are other search engines that could be used):




          Note that I'm not questioning RMS' contribution - I'm perfectly "clear" on what it amounts to.

          I suspect that your best bet is to contact to see if a way to donate already exists. If not, I suggest you set up your own site and send the proceeds to them.

  19. Ross K

    Keep Taking Those Meds Richard

    "He started yelling and punching himself in the head."

    Sounds like the actions of a sane person. Was he off his medication that day or something?

    And WTF was wrong with leaving his passport and money in a hotel safe?

    Yeah having your stuff stolen is no fun, but from the article it sounds like this guy has no common sense whatsoever...

    1. Soruk

      Re: Keep Taking Those Meds Richard

      > And WTF was wrong with leaving his passport and money in a hotel safe?

      I don't know about Argentina, but some countries' laws (e.g. China) require visitors to carry their passports with them at all times.

      1. Ross K

        Re: Keep Taking Those Meds Richard

        There's no law requiring a passport to be carried at all times in Argentina, so that's a moot point.

        Indeed, the Foreign Office says:

        "Passports should be left in a hotel safe or security box except when being used for identification purposes such as purchasing expensive items or cashing travellers’ cheques. Keep a photocopy of the details page of your passport with you at all times. Passports are required as identification for internal flights."

        Anyway, did Your Mum never tell you not to carry all your valuables together when travelling?

        Or put another way, "Don't keep all your eggs in the one basket"...

      2. Tom 38

        Re: Keep Taking Those Meds Richard

        Must be some different China to the one I just visited.

  20. moonface

    He started yelling and punching himself in the head

    I always thought 'beating yourself up' was just a turn of phrase! I suppose at least he picked on someone his own size but I hope he had time to remove his spectacles, as hitting a guy with glasses is just low.

    1. Ross K

      Re: He started yelling and punching himself in the head

      Classic autistic self-abusive behaviour.

      You'll find that a lot of autistic people are drawn to programming as they like repetitive, fiddly tasks.

      Wired wrote an interesting article on the prevalence of autism and Asperger's in Silicon Valley:

      "It's a familiar joke in the industry that many of the hardcore programmers in IT strongholds like Intel, Adobe, and Silicon Graphics - coming to work early, leaving late, sucking down Big Gulps in their cubicles while they code for hours - are residing somewhere in Asperger's domain. Kathryn Stewart, director of the Orion Academy, a high school for high-functioning kids in Moraga, California, calls Asperger's syndrome "the engineers' disorder." Bill Gates is regularly diagnosed in the press: His single-minded focus on technical minutiae, rocking motions, and flat tone of voice are all suggestive of an adult with some trace of the disorder. Dov's father told me that his friends in the Valley say many of their coworkers "could be diagnosed with ODD - they're odd." In Microserfs, novelist Douglas Coupland observes, "I think all tech people are slightly autistic." "

  21. sisk

    Presumably the thief will have spent the day battling a command prompt and failing to install the right codecs and packages just to watch a YouTube video.

    Ok Anna. I realize it's a joke, but it's also a cheap shot and really reveals your ignorance about the current state of OSS. Ten years ago it might have been a fair statement, but these days codecs, and many other things for that matter, are easier to install on OSS systems than on Windows.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't know why he's so upset...

    It's not like he paid for it. Or anything else, for that matter. The man has literally not had to pay for anything since he was in his 20s.


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