I didn’t say an awful lot in my last post. I was a bit tired by that point. The RMS talk was indeed a success.

Before the talk, a few of us handed out flyers for Manchester Free Software and the Free Software Foundation, hopefully gaining some publicity there.

The badgering to get the larger lecture theatre (and possibly the blog posts too) paid off, with the talk being moved from a 100‐seater to a 300‐seater room. Most, if not all, of the seats were taken, with some people sitting on the stairs or standing at the back. I was one of the latter. I tried some different positions that didn’t make me any more comfortable, but I lasted it out.

Stallman’s talks mostly boil down to one of a small number in similarity, and this was one of them. He covered off the GNU project, the principles of free software, some of the bad things about proprietary software, and free software in educational institutions. I had heard most of it before but it still interested me and possibly filled some bits I had missed. I suspect a fair number of the audience hadn’t.

The questions and answers at the end lasted a long time. There was something about how works of art compare to software, and how computer games fit in; an amusing look into the future when machines may have freedom; and a drawn out debate from someone desperately trying to argue that they should be allowed to make money through proprietary software and, in Stallman’s view, subjugate the users.

RMS then auctioned off a copy of “Free Software, Free Society”, which was fun to witness. John Leach put in his first (or second?) bid following with a request for a hug. The next bidder requested not to get a hug, with Stallman saying “how much will you pay not to have a hug?” (maybe paraphrased). Eventually, I think £90 was raised for the FSF, and the winning bidder (not John) got a hug.

I thoroughly enjoyed the talk, and wish Richard Stallman well. Also, thank you Matt Lee for setting things in motion, and Paul Waring and the BCS for the effort that went into organising the event, and Paul Robinson for hosting Richard Stallman during his visit.