Thanks to Andy Baio's Personal Ads of the Digerati, I've discovered one of them most remarkable productivity tools of the modern age.

It seems that Richard Stallman doesn't use a web browser.

At all.

As seen in the archives of the list, he uses email to browse the web. Sort of...

For personal reasons, I do not browse the web from my computer. (I also have not net connection much of the time.) To look at page I send mail to a demon which runs wget and mails the page back to me. It is very efficient use of my time, but it is slow in real time.


That is sooooo old school.

Merlin Mann would be proud. Very proud. And probably a little scared.

Speaking of which, go watch Inbox Zero again.

Posted by jzawodn at January 29, 2008 04:14 PM

Reader Comments
# Richard (sorry I'm not RMS) said:

That is seriously the coolest way to browse the web. I would be interested to learn a bit more about that demon!

on January 29, 2008 04:34 PM
# NM said:

@Richard: I used such a service in 1993 or something. Anyhow, it takes one line in your .qmail/.forward to implement this. A long line perhaps, but one line of shell.

on January 29, 2008 05:27 PM
# Aaron B. Hockley said:

Absurd. I'm quite familiar with RMS and his accomplishments, but for someone who is involved with technology and internet issues to refuse to use a web browser is just crazy.

on January 29, 2008 05:50 PM
# Ray said:

Yeah, I know people like that... refusing to use GUIs, etc. If that's what floats your boat, great. But where it all goes wrong is when they assert moral superiority for not having adopted modern technology. One particular dufus on a mailing list I belong to regularly complains any time people post links to content that requires a GUI. There comes a point where holding to the old ways goes from quaint to fetish... and then rapidly to irrelevance. It gets increasingly hard to take seriously technologists who doesn't "get" new technologies and is unable to factor them into any vision of the future.

on January 29, 2008 07:43 PM
# Mike Schilli said:

When Stallman writes "I also have not net connection" and
"To look at page", radically eliminating the use of "a" in English prose, shouldn't he also consequently say "I send mail to demon which runs wget and mails page back to me"?

Just asking.

on January 29, 2008 11:20 PM
# Maurice said:

MM sounds just like a stunt Wally in dilbert would pull to get out of doing work :-)

on January 30, 2008 01:33 AM
# Lisa said:

Oh gee. A software activist turns out to be a nutjob. News at 11.

on January 30, 2008 03:23 AM
# Mario said:

I think it's fascinating how Theo de Raadt and Richard Stallman , the Godzilla and King Kong of open source, have nothing better to do than nitpick about what the meaning of the work 'Free' is. At least Gates was facing lawyers when he didn't know what 'is' meant, but these guys are just going at it for kicks. It's also fun to watch two software pit bulls go at it. It's like Aliens vs. Predator over TCP/IP. The thread goes on for so long that it actually crashed my Firefox browser ( running on F8 Linux ). Today I'm on Windows, so maybe I can read more.

on January 30, 2008 07:11 AM
# Brian Duffy said:

Forget the kneejerk reaction and think about it a bit. Stallman is certainly eccentric, but is a brilliant man who has contributed and has made a mark on our industry.

Stallman campaigns for freedom -- and he chooses to exercise that freedom by choosing to do his work his way.

And while you may think that his ways of doing things are oddball or irrelevant, consider people who DON'T have a choice due to physical impairment. Think of the challenge that a blind individual has using a graphically oriented system.

on January 30, 2008 07:17 AM
# chad said:

I was going to point out that it doesn't say that he doesn't look at the page with a graphical viewer. Emacs makes a fine mail program and under a graphical environment can render web pages, etc.

But then I figured that his "personal reasons" probably in the fact that he doesn't want to use any non-gnu-definition-free software. I'm not sure X falls under that definition, so it does seem likely that he's viewing a text-only web.

on January 30, 2008 07:39 AM
# Joseph LeBlanc said:

"Stallman campaigns for freedom -- and he chooses to exercise that freedom by choosing to do his work his way."

He campaigns for freedom, according to *his* definition of freedom.

On the other hand (assuming he views everything text-only), he's avoiding a plethora of nasty vulnerabilities brought about by session and Javascript issues from poorly coded and malicious websites. Something to ponder, for sure.

on January 30, 2008 09:58 AM
# Brian Duffy said:

"He campaigns for freedom, according to *his* definition of freedom."

If there's something wrong for advocating your vision of "freedom", then you're not really free, are you?

on January 30, 2008 05:48 PM
# Jeremy Roy said:

Stallman is actually staying ahead of all of us... he'll be the only one who can read Zawodny's blog on Jet Blue...

on January 30, 2008 07:11 PM
# Christopher Toth said:

@Brian Duffy: As a blind individual I'm going to have to correct your misconception of accessibility for the GUI. We blinks have had GUI access since back in Windows 95, with software from a few different providers. It's not until recently that open source has caught up with the NVDA project, and on linux, Orca, but we still have quite sufficient access to get things done.
Just saw your comment while looking for a link to the bit about RMS not using a web browser and thought I'd comment. I'm currently running Firefox 3.5 on Windows 7 with my screen access software of choice, Jaws, and I'd venture to say I can probably interface with the computer faster than my sighted colleagues.
Just my 0.02,

on August 29, 2009 03:42 PM
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