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Richard Stallman is mostly known for his activist/politics stuff at this point, but he was also a heck of a developer. He wrote Emacs, GCC, GDB and glibc. I'm not sure if he was a total lone wolf, but my understanding is that in the early days he was overwhelmingly the main person responsible for those projects.



It's hard to get a sense of how smart RMS is, because he seems to be anti-showy about it. But I've seen him talk in different venues, and calibrate how much he says to the venue. I've also seen him ramp up how much detail he goes into, and what kinds of arguments he can make, when someone with a background in some area is challenging him on some point. I can't tell how smart he is, but I suspect that most people talking with him underestimate him.


It hard to get a sense of how Smart RMS is, because he invents his own terms or he repurposes existing well understood terms (such as the term free) to confuse the issue.

It is something I have little respect for and tbh it doesn't matter how clever it is when he spends most of that effort on for want of a better term intellectual wankery.


Saying "free software" drives me crazy, today.

Possibly in his defense, I suspect it made more sense at the time. He'd just tell other hackers "this is free software - free as in...", and they'd say "OK, that's an interesting idea that resonates with what we know and see", or "OK, that's some hippie stuff, but we've been benefiting from that kind of sharing in computing, so you might have a point". They'd hear that in-person, or on the Internet, or in the text files when they went to compile and install the software. Now most people never get the introduction, or it's drowned out in all the massive noise that everyone is exposed to on the Web.

Though maybe saying "free" still works for him, because, when he's giving a talk, he can say "this is free software - free as in..." and people are there, paying attention.

Also, it's in the brand name.

A wild speculation possibility is that he's still thinking decades ahead, and maybe we go back to trying to say substantive things, and paying attention when others say substantive things, and then saying "free software" makes more sense again. (Some other instances of thinking ahead are the reason behind a subreddit name: "https://old.reddit.com/r/StallmanWasRight/")

In any case, I think it's unfortunate if people dismiss RMS's speech without listening, because of quirks and things we don't immediately understand.


I don't agree at all. From day one he been using intellectual wankery.

Regarding lists like r/stallmanwasright, I work with plenty of smart people who couldn't care less about free software some of them aren't even tech savvy and they can spot all the problems with a lot of the services we have today.

I think it is more an exercise of throwing shit at a wall until and seeing what sticks. Which btw is a perfectly valid method of seeing how your message gets across but it doesn't make you a genius.

That combined with awful manners, hygiene and the fact that he has some disgusting opinions about child abuse. I can't stand the man. The fact that this guy has any importance past "Well he was the founder of the GNU project and he wrote a text editor" seems ludicrous to me.


I think the difficulty for me in responding here is that your comment contains both assertions about intellectual merit (which could be interesting to explore), and more broad aversion to the person (which might be relevant to intellectual merit, and/or to the meta of dialogue about that, but is a manners minefield).

This thread is pretty tangential to the post to start with, so there will be better occasions to discuss these things. And maybe it helps to separate them out differently.


Fair enough. If you are interested I suggest you read:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/You-Are-Not-Gadget-Manifesto/dp/014...

He has a few chapters about problems (rarely mentioned) with GNU / GPL and Stallman himself.




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