Introducing RMS-Lint

The Article Itself


A new tool aims to revolutionise the way people communicate with the famous free software evangelist Richard M. Stallman, (also known by his initials - “RMS”). Its project leader Shlomi Fish has more to say of it:

RMS-Lint is called RMS-Lint because like most lints it warns on many things that are obviously not errors, because there’s a chance that they are. RMS-Lint is an interactive speller that runs over the document word by word with a sophisticated look-ahead and look-behind and warns the user over any word or combination of words that may irritate Stallman, or otherwise will be frowned upon by him.

RMS-Lint’s Rules

In accordance to the Free Software Foundation‘s list of words to avoid and other documents available on the FSF Site, the following rules are recognized by RMS-Lint:

  • Warns on every use of the term “Linux” not preceded by “GNU/”. This is due to the fact that Stallman advocates using “GNU/Linux” instead of just “Linux” to refer to the entire operating system. It especially warns on “the Linux kernel” (because the kernel part is redundant as Linux is just the kernel).

    Legitimate use of the term “Linux” to refer to just the kernel are also warned about, but can be overridden.

  • Warns on every use of the term “open source” and even the word “open”. Replacements are “free software”, “free”, “revealed”, “viewable”, and the boatload of synonyms from the the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Also warns on the terms “closed-source” or “closed”.

  • Warns on every use of the term “free” for fear it may be used to imply costlessness. As for legitimate uses of the term (“free as in free speech”), it should be noted that being a lint, RMS-Lint attempts to cover every possible error, not just the ones that actually are such. Replacements are “liberal”, “libre”, “costless”, “gratis”, and you also have an option to ignore it.

  • Warns on every use of the term “pirate” or “piracy”. It is our belief that when talking to Dr. Stallman, people won’t usually wish to talk about the sea-faring robbers, but instead on illegitimate copying of one form of media or another. Thus, RMS-Lint warns on every such use and suggests the alternatives of “illegal copier/copying”, or “buccaneer”.

  • Warns on every use of “Intellectual Property” or “IP” (a common short form of it). The developers of RMS-Lint realize that IP can also mean the “Internet Protocol” (as in “IP address”, “my IP is ‘’”), but we believe that when corresponding to RMS, such use will be relatively uncommon, and does not justify risking mentioning “intellectual property” to him.

  • And much, much more…

Response to RMS-Lint

Eric S. Raymond, a long time friend of Stallman, and the chief leader of the open source movement, expressed a great deal of content from the availability of this tool. “I’ve been waiting for such a thing all my life. Communicating with Richard has become more and more difficult, and RMS-Lint can easily make it much better.”

Raymond’s long time collaborator Bruce Perens also expressed happiness that RMS-Lint has become available. “Modern-day open source enthusiasts find it more and more difficult to communicate with Richard Stallman due to his terminological whims. RMS-Lint is just the tool that can help them validate their E-mails for RMS’ correctness.”

Meanwhile, Richard Stallman himself expressed dismay from this project: “RMS-Lint is an unsatisfying symptomatic cure for a big problem. People can use this stupid tool to try and communicate with me effectively, instead of correcting their speech and their thought patterns, which is the best thing in the long run. I am appalled by the fact that people even think a machine can correct what a person should work on himself to do. This makes me so angry!”


Copyright and Licence

This document is Copyright by Shlomi Fish, 2004, and is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0 Unported (or at your option any later version).

For securing additional rights, please contact Shlomi Fish and see the explicit requirements that are being spelt from abiding by that licence.