Richard Stallman's personal site.

For current political commentary, see the daily political notes.

RMS's Bio | The GNU Project

RMS lifestyle

See also for info on my practices involving computers.

I don't have a favorite this or that

I do not have a favorite food, a favorite book, a favorite song, a favorite joke, a favorite flower, or a favorite butterfly. My tastes don't work that way.

In general, in any area of art or sensation, there are many ways for something to be good, and they cannot be compared and ordered. I can't judge whether I like chocolate better or noodles better, because I like them in different ways. Thus, I cannot determine which food is my favorite.


Until around 1998, my office at MIT was also my residence. I was even registered to vote from there. Nowadays I have no connection with MIT; I live in Boston.







Surveillance issues

See also How I use the Internet.

"Loyalty cards"

Credit Cards

I have a credit card, but I use it as rarely as possible. Effectively, only for airline tickets, car rental, and hotel checkin — because they demand identification anyway. However, I try to avoid staying in a hotel that will demand to know my name.

I pay some bills with checks. Once again, the payees already know my name.

Cellular Phones


I mostly ignore holidays, except for Grav-mass. They have no direct effect on me, since I work when I wish (which is most of the time) and do other things when I wish.

If I had a family, and holidays were a special opportunity to do some leisure activity when they did not have work or school, that would be a practical reason to pay attention to holidays. However, I decided not to have a family, and I don't need to wait for a holiday to see my friends.

Many holidays have become commercialized: corporate PR has taught many people that buying things for their friends or relatives on these days is "the thing to do", and the truest expression of love. I dislike the feeling that I am obliged to give a gift for some meaningless event, and get no particular pleasure from receiving gifts under these circumstances either, and hiding the fact that I don't like a gift makes me feel quite uncomfortable. I opted out of these forms of ritual consumption back in my teens, and I am glad I did.


I like trains, and in general I would rather take a train for many hours than fly.

However, I absolutely refuse to take the Amtrak trains between Boston and New York because they check passengers' ID (not all the time, but it could happen at any time). Please join me in boycotting Amtrak until it stops requiring identification.

It's not that I expect my personal rejection to make Amtrak change. Rather, as long as Amtrak does not change, I resent it so much I'd rather take a bus.

Learning languages

I have developed a way of learning a language that works for me.

First I study with a textbook to learn to read the language, using a recording of the sounds to start saying the words to myself. When I finish the textbook, I start reading children's books (for 7-10 year olds) with a dictionary. I advance to books for teenagers when I know enough words that it becomes tolerably fast.

When I know enough words, I start writing the language in email when I am in conversations with people who speak that language.

I don't try actually speaking the language until I know enough words to be able to say the complex sorts of things I typically want to say. Simple sentences are almost as rare in my speech as in this writing. In addition, I need to know how to ask questions about how to say things, what a word means, and how certain words differ in meaning, and how to understand the answers.

I first started actually speaking French during my first visit to France. I decided on arrival in the airport that I would speak only French for the whole 6 weeks. This was feasible because I could already read and write French. My insistence was frustrating to my colleagues, whose English was much better than my French. But it enabled me to learn.

I decided to learn Spanish when I saw a page printed in Spanish and found I could mostly read it (given my French and English). I followed the approach described above, and began speaking Spanish during a two-week visit to Mexico, a couple of years later.

As for Indonesian, I eventually reached the point where I could speak it all the time when in Indonesia, but since 2010 I have not had time to keep up the practice.

Avoiding Boredom

I hate being bored, and since I want to get a lot done, I don't like losing time. So I always carry a computer and a book. When I have a few minutes to wait and can sit down, I get work done. When I have to stand, or the wait isn't long enough to do anything useful on the computer, I read.

When I wait for my baggage in an airport, I generally do one of these two things. I notice the people around me, waiting anxiously for their bags and getting nothing done. They would be happier if they did as I do.


I don't smile artificially for photos because such smiles look insipid to me. Old photos from before 1950 seem much more dignified because the subjects did not smile. I'd rather be photographed that way.

Occasionally I do smile while being photographed — because I feel happy.

If you take photos of me, or with me in them, please do not put them in Facebook (or Instagram or Whatsapp, which are part of the same company). That company tracks people that appear in photos.

Copyright (c) 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2022 Richard Stallman
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