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Windows viruses and GNU/Linux

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: Windows viruses and GNU/Linux
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2003 23:30:22 -0400

Your local newspapers may already, or soon, run stories about the
current rash of Windows viruses.  These stories probably won't mention
that GNU/Linux offers an alternative that is pretty much virus-free.
So it will be useful to send letters to the editor, mentioning the
existence of the free software alternative.

There are several reasons why GNU/Linux has few viruses:

1. We designed the GNU system, from the outset in 1984, as a
multi-user timesharing system with security features.  An ordinary
user cannot change the system software.  Linux, Torvalds' 1991 kernel,
followed this design as well.

2. We did not make the incredibly stupid decision to design
applications so that they execute programs that arrive in the mail.

3. Free software developers seem to do a better job, overall.  (This
is the point that the Open Source Movement primarily focuses on.  For
us in the Free Software Movement, this is a nice bonus, but please
mention that freedom is even more important.)

4. GNU/Linux is less popular than Windows and most virus developers
target the more common system.

If everyone switches to GNU/Linux, reason 4 will go away, but not the
others.  Therefore, people can expect to have much fewer virus
problems in a world of GNU/Linux users than then have now with

If you know the journalists who might write about this, it would be
useful to to talk with them before they write their stories.  Please
suggest to them that if they want more information, they can look at, and then write to me.

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