I love to hear Richard Stallman speak. He has a talent for digging down to the fundamentals before presenting his thesis. You have to be pretty thick not to understand the man:
RMS: Non-free software is not the world’s only problem. I undertook to work on this problem because (1) it dropped in my lap (I could not be neutral except by leaving my field), (2) I had an idea for how I could tackle it effectively, and (3) nobody else was even working on it.
I am not the best person to ask for this kind of help, because I focus on something else. Rather than trying to convince IT managers that it is more profitable to respect our freedom–I don’t know whether that is true–I try to convince computer users that they should insist on software that respects their freedom.”
That’s not actually a talk he gave but an e-mail Q&A back in 2000 but it’s just like his talks, clear and based solidly on principles that he lays out.
So, when commentators here assign all kinds of evil to RMS, I know they just aren’t listening or cannot read. RMS is not about harming anyone but making IT that works for people. It’s so easy to do that if you follow his advice and use Free Software, code that is accompanied by permission to run, examine, modify and distribute under the same terms. Those principles help ensure that by using the software you are not being lead around by the nose and enslaved by others. Compare that with M$’s EULA which definitely lists all the rights you give up by using their software. M$ was the reason I got involved with FLOSS so many years ago. I had not heard of RMS and FSF and GPL. That came later and I’m glad it did.
I recommend Debian GNU/Linux operating system which is not on RMS’s preferred list because Debian accepts that non-Free software may be OK and distributes some. I use Debian GNU/Linux in the real world where hardware may exist for which there is no Free Software, like Intel NICs. Rather than advising people not to use that hardware already owned and in the house, I recommend using a little non-Free stuff but being aware of compatible hardware for future purchases. Wasting hardware is unethical just as abusing users.
It’s too much for ordinary consumers, the vast majority of users of IT, to deal with a pile of such issues when moving to Free Software. Over time more manufacturers are supplying drivers for Linux so this issue may well disappear, but in the meantime some compromise must be made in practice. There’s nothing wrong with the principles however. It’s the right way to do IT with shared, re-used, redistributable software because it’s the best quality at the lowest price and it respects the freedom of the users.