MIT's Gates building: Free Software Foundation's new home?

Bill Gates' $20 million donation to MIT may find an unlikely -- and unhappy -- beneficiary.

By Janelle Brown
Published April 14, 1999 10:40AM (EDT)

MIT announced Tuesday that Bill Gates has
donated $20 million to the university to help build a new Laboratory for
Computer Science. The new building, which will replace the current LCS and be named after Gates, is to be designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.

The news is rich in irony for the followers of the free software movement.
The offices of the pioneering Free Software
Foundation
were long housed at MIT's Laboratory for Computer
Science. Although the business office has since moved to downtown Boston,
free software guru Richard Stallman still has an office at the LCS, and his foundation still maintains a laboratory in the building for its
programmers.

In other words, unless it moves out first, the Free Software Foundation
will soon occupy quarters named after Bill Gates.

Staffers at the Free Software Foundation office
wouldn't comment, and Stallman did not respond to e-mail inquiries. But considering Stallman's reaction to the Gates Building at Stanford (he gave it the finger), the notion of a Gates-housed Free Software Foundation has to hurt.


Janelle Brown

Janelle Brown is a contributing writer for Salon.

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