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Stallman: Cloud computing is 'stupidity'

The Free Software Foundation founder says that the industry's latest trend ultimately will result in vendor lock-in and escalating costs for users.

Mike Ricciuti Staff writer, CNET News
Mike Ricciuti joined CNET in 1996. He is now CNET News' Boston-based executive editor and east coast bureau chief, serving as department editor for business technology and software covered by CNET News, Reviews, and Download.com. E-mail Mike.
Mike Ricciuti
2 min read

Not everyone loves cloud computing. Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and creator of the GNU operating system, says cloud computing is "stupidity" that ultimately will result in vendor lock-in and escalating costs.

"The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we've redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do," Stallman said, in a report posted by The Guardian on Monday.

Richard Stallman, speaking at MIT in 2006. CNET Networks

Cloud computing, the latest marketing description for a notion put forth by computer industry companies in recent years, moves most of the computing power--and sometimes data--to servers maintained by companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. The classic example of cloud computing might be Gmail, offered by Google.

Stallman says cloud computing forces people to hand over control of their information to a third party. His objections echo his longstanding belief in non-proprietary software. "One reason you should not use Web applications to do your computing is that you lose control," he said. "It's just as bad as using a proprietary program.

"Do your own computing on your own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program. If you use a proprietary program or somebody else's Web server, you're defenseless. You're putty in the hands of whoever developed that software," he said.

Stallman dismisses cloud computing as industry bluster. "It's stupidity. It's worse than stupidity: it's a marketing hype campaign," he said. "Somebody is saying this is inevitable--and whenever you hear somebody saying that, it's very likely to be a set of businesses campaigning to make it true."