Richard Stallman Calls Steam on Linux ‘Unethical’

While some in the Linux community have lauded the idea of Steam coming to the popular open-source operating system, some like Richard Stallman think it is not a good idea. Richard Stallman is better known as the founder of the Free Software Foundation and the GNU operating system. He has said publicly that charging users for DRM-protected games on an open-source platform is "unethical".

"Non-free game programs (like other non-free programs) are unethical because they deny freedom to their users," wrote Stallman on his blog. "If you want freedom, one requisite for it is not having non-free programs on your computer."

Instead, Richard Stallman has urged Linux users to source titles from the Free Game Dev Forums.

"However, if you're going to use these games, you're better off using them on GNU/Linux rather than on Microsoft Windows."

While he initially dislikes the idea of Steam on GNU platforms, he does ultimately admit that playing games on Linux is a better prospect than doing so under a Windows operating system. Still he says that having commercial games on the platform causes other problems.

"Any GNU/Linux distro [distribution] that comes with software to offer these games will teach users that the point is not freedom," said Stallman. "Non-free software in GNU/Linux distros already works against the goal of freedom. Adding these games to a distro would augment that effect."

Source: BBC

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  1. 0
    Hevach says:

    Thing to remember about Stallman, he's the Linux equivalent of a true Christian fundamentalist who doesn't wear blended fabrics, doesn't eat beef from hybrid cows, won't use sea salt, doesn't cut his beard and uses dirt for medicine.

    Stallman's called commercial Linux distros unethical, and has been trying to convince the world for years that the major console makers will inevitably fail because their games aren't open source. In his world view, software must be free as in beer as well as free as in freedom – open source with no closed proprietary components, unpatented, free of charge, he's even criticized code reuse, which is the entire point of most programing language developments since C.

    The weight his ideas have in the OSS community has done a lot to keep it a hobby more than a market.

  2. 0
    MechaTama31 says:

    I see what he's saying, but maybe it might be offset somewhat by the fact that, once it has real games, people might actually start using Linux.

  3. 0
    Sleaker says:

    Just another reason why I think the GNU licenses and the FSF are horrible for software development in general and don't actually promote or help along their own goal.  their license is based around restriction, not freedom.  If I want to build a piece of software from another work I can't charge for it under the GPL without also offering all of my work that built upon it. Thus myself as a developer is forced to give up what I've done so everyone can see it and do whatever they also want to do with it.  This restricts my rights 'for the good' of others, and while this is a legitimate stance to take, I don't think it's any good, or very helpful.  I prefer MIT, BSD, Apache, MS-PL, and other Do-what-you-want licenses.

  4. 0
    Conster says:

    I did a little digging, and apparently with "free software" they don't mean "doesn't cost anything" – the description (which can be found at is pretty long, but basically they mean "libre" instead of "gratis". So I guess even Steam games that don't cost any money would not qualify as "free software" since they're not open-source.

    Of course, I still think it's a silly attitude, but they do mean free as in freedom, not free as in doesn't cost money.

  5. 0
    Infophile says:

    A classic case of equivocation. "Freedom" has nothing to do with whether or not someone else wishes to charge you money for purchasing a product, regardless of the fact that we call a product "free" if they wish to charge you no money for it. If the government were to mandate tomorrow that no one could charge money for anything, everything would suddenly be free, but you would also suddenly find that a ton of things are no longer for sale, removing your freedom to acquire them.

  6. 0
    Longjocks says:

    Exactly. The idea is that you have the freedom to choose if you install Steam and/or play games available on Steam. Does this guy tell people not to buy books because there is a range of free books to choose from?

  7. 0
    Neeneko says:

    In his world, 'freedom' means reducing your choices since anything that involves tradeoffs is vorbotten.  Thus the whole 'if you want X from us, you have to Y' infringes on his 'freedom' to have X.

  8. 0
    Conster says:

    "If you want freedom, one requisite for it is not having non-free programs on your computer."

    Because obviously the only way to have freedom is by being limited in which games you play.

  9. 0
    Left4Dead says:

    Freedom always comes at a price.  Freedom is something Richard Stallman enjoys without realizing that it cost someone else their life to give the freedom to him to be able to say things like that.

    -- Left4Dead --

  10. 0
    Neeneko says:

    I think RMS is kinda like Biden or Palin… even if you are part of that community and support its platforms, you just have to put your head on your desk and hope the adults have something more productive to say.


    I kinda wonder how history might have been different if a particular printer manufacturer wasn't being a dick about its drivers…

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