In a short interview, Richard Stallman recommends not to put passwords on your wireless network. In the OS Revolution documentary he also mentions how he's disliked passwords ever since his job at MIT introduced them.

Why is this? I always thought long and/or complicated passwords are good, since you keep your accounts/virtual possession to yourself.

Does it have to do with his attitude towards the internet, among other things? aka share as much as possible, as often as possible? Surely there's plenty of potential security dangers in having an unprotected wireless network?

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    For what it's worth, the original question appears to be in scope on this exchange since it asks about "the history and philosophies of the FSF, OSI, CC etc" (specifically the FSF founder's statement in a speech). But I may be interpreting the "You are in the right place if" section of the scope document too broadly... Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 17:49

1 Answer 1


That is no recommendation towards securing private or important data. At MIT everyone used a shared account, to easily share results of programming. With accounts and passwords this was a problem, so they decided to set an empty password. Similar with the network, he goes from the standpoint that the network should be a common shared resource. In germany an initiative named Freifunk does that. It has nothing to do with security but with the idea of shared resources, that in consequence don't need a password.

  • I see, but my point still stands. If I were to share my network from now on with strangers, wouldn't I run the risk of certain hacking attacks?
    – GillesDV
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 18:34
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    The Freifunk-nodes offer their services without exposing other infrastructure. The problem of securing your environment and the reasoning for opening up the wireless are unrelated. Still, if you do that it is recommendable to check out how to secure things. But it shouldn't influence the decision.
    – Mnementh
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:25
  • As I recall, RMS is generally against locking down anything. His own accounts at MIT had no passwords (it even had a login message saying "welcome to my account, please don't screw with anything") forcing the network admins to come up with alternate ways to lock down access to his account to prevent what security professionals would call a "gaping security hole" into their systems Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 20:18

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