Cloud Computing: Richard Stallman calls us STUPID! (With respect, we don’t agree RMS!)

Posted on September 30, 2008  /  7 Comments

He did not mean LIRNEasia specifically, but when the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) guru Richard M. Stallman (RMS) says CLOUD COMPUTING IS WORSE THAN STUPIDITY – certainly we are in. So just cannot let it pass without comments.

Not that we are offended. Cloud computing is not our religion – it is just an experiment – part of our research. We may be proved wrong – but at least not so far. We are glad we use the model.

Here is how we, at LIRNEasia, use ‘CLOUD’ Computing:

This blog itself is in the CLOUD (WordPress, to be specific)

All our documents are in the CLOUD (Scribd)

All our photos are in the CLOUD (Flickr)

All our video clips are in the CLOUD (You Tube)

All our databases are in the CLOUD (Here is one:

Then, we plan to go further in this research cycle by contributing more to:

(a) Wikipedia, a CLOUD (One example: and
(b) Others’ blogs – another CLOUD

In short, LIRNEasia is an organization that runs – on CLOUD – without a single central physical server. All what we have are our laptops which we use to directly access the CLOUD. (ie. without going through a Local Area Network) So whatever we do; eat, sleep and dance we do it in the CLOUD.

Why LIRNEasia takes CLOUD COMPUTING so seriously?

We saw the potential at very begining. It is the only way a regional research organization without a large IT budget could survive, let alone operate. We were proved correct. (Out IT budget is only for our laptops and three broadband connections. Why three? – Redundancy. When CLOUD is everything for us, better not take chances)

Perhaps RMS might want to have a look at our Virtual Organisation Report which we did to share our experience with similar organisations. Dated April 2008, it is bit outdated now – we have come a long way since then. (Yes, many things can happen in five months, like increasing the hit rate of our site by 50%) Still it is a document worth reading.

We proudly recommend it for anyone who does not want to spend dollars on proprietary hardware to get rid of proprietary software! Thanks RMS, for the opportunity!


  1. It looks like we are not alone.

    Hey, aren’t anyone out there to defend RMS?

  2. @Chanuka, your failure to grasp RMS’s point and your knee-jerk reaction are almost as unfortunate as RMS’s intemperate comments. What RMS is talking about the rise of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and the implications of that for vendor lock-in, competition, and open source software in general. This is a legitimate concern for an Internet whose success is based on open standards and the sharing of source code. Sadly this is poorly expressed by RMS.

    SaaS effectively creates a loophole for people using GPL software not to release their code modifications. This is a violation of the spirit of the GPL license. See Tim O’Reilly’s comments and some discussion here:

    Further you appear not to understand what cloud computing is. Cloud computing is the abstraction of applications from individual servers. Hosting your blog on WordPress does not make you a “cloud” user. It makes you a SaaS subscriber.

    Cloud computing is inevitable as is SaaS but using free software without respecting the share-alike nature of the license will ultimately inhibit people from contributing to open source projects.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Before I respond to specific issues let me assure I have nothing against FOSS or Open Source in principle. On the contrary, I am all for FOSS and sometime back tried even promoting it for Sri Lanka government with the support of my friends at IOSN then. I have also been a party that organized the well attended event on FOSS at WSIS 2005 – where RMS was a key speaker. That was my first physical encounter with RMS and yes, I was impressed by his dedication.

    I have the same respect for FOSS enthusiasts that I have for vegetarians. Both are noble causes but what I don’t like is either being imposed on others. I do not foresee a day everyone becoming a vegetarian. Ditto for FOSS or Open Source. Both are good models but too much to expect everyone to be converted.

    I guess if RMS is against cloud computing he should take it at a different level rather than calling the users stupid. What alternative he could offer? (say to the popular services by Google) Are there any FOSS alternatives to popular services he mentions? I am more than happy to shift if there are any.

  4. Thanks Sanjana for the link. I never said cloud computing is for everyone, and certainly LIRNEasia is not Coca Cola. We don’t have sleepless nights worrying competitors robbing our secret formulae.

  5. With google coming up with Chrome OS as a lightweight thing, days wont be far where with high broadband connectivity, it becomes technically feasible to store our PC data on remote computers hosted by Google / Microsoft / ABC Corp. Which means we are not only sacrificing our freedom, but also our data… youtube / flickr / orkut / facebook is virtually monitoring each and every one of us. Of course it is upto us to take care we do not leak out much personal things… or better to go out and hang out with real friends atleast.

    User privacy is very important and that was one fundamental thing which drove the free software moment. Access to source code and ability to monitor it. This assured as that with GNU/Linux, our privacy is not at stake and we are free from any sort of malicious code which can probe our systems and send data.

    Understand that cloud computing is just marketing crap for Software as a service model. Our privacy and freedom will be at stake if we fall for this.

  6. I go with cloud computing. There are enormous advantages in it and it basically goes with using minimal resources that can give to maximum users. Servers can be utilised much more effectively to meet the user’s needs.