Still, I think that if you can look past his poor social graces, the man makes some very valid points. Time and time again, he issues statements that draw eye rolls and sneers, only to be vindicated later when his seemingly over-dramatic predictions actually come to pass.
Dislike the man if you must. Criticize his poor diplomatic communication skills. But his role in our technological ecosystem is vital, and I for one am glad he's around.
Yes, when asked he will express disdain even for projects like Ubuntu. He will say that iOS is worse, but to him, neither are acceptable. This keeps him from connecting strongly with many who are sympathetic to his cause.
I don't think people who have read a great deal of what he's said, and what others have said about him, are surprised by his recent statement about Steve Jobs. I was actually surprised that he waited 24 hours and managed to keep it short and say something to make it a little less personal (the Chicago mayor quote). I think he's maturing.
The FSF seems to be primarily focused on providing information and tools to those who wish to seek it. At this, I believe they do a pretty good job. There are other organizations focused on selling the idea of F/OSS to outsiders, such as OSI.
First bullet point.
Realistically, these sorts of organizations are not looking for outside support. They thrive on controversy and know their target audience well.
I don't financially support the FSF, I don't financially or intellectually support Greenpeace, and I think the politics of groups like The Yes Men are tedious. I also don't think any of them are going to change the world.
I do respect the hell out of all of them though.
Since a lot of people here seemed to have an emotional reaction to Jobs' passing, I had no desire to say anything here. But now the topic is Stallman, and for whatever reason, people are wanting to discuss his comments.
I (and probably most people I know) don't think Stallman's comments are a big deal. Steve was known for acting cruelly to people; apparently acted like a sociopath. If he treated people like shit when he was alive, then it's not the end of the world when someone says a few less-than-respectful things about him when he's gone.
When confronted with the death of someone he disliked, I doubt Steve would be so sentimental. (At least not inwardly.)
Stallman is also a sociopath by your definition then; remember his comments in some mailing list when someone announced they had had a child. There are plenty of other examples. Richard Stallman is an asshole. A brilliant and useful asshole, but an asocial asshole incapable of basic empathy nonetheless.
I don't admire either of them (though I'd give more credit to Stallman for fighting the good and difficult fight all these years), but it seems to me that Stallman's supporters behave exactly the way they claim Jobs' supporters do - by eulogizing and finding excuses for the ugly sides of their heroes and claiming "the others" are a cult.
History is full of brilliant and useful assholes. both Jobs and Stallman should be given their rightful due and called on their failings. But neither of them should be casting aspersions about the other (not that Jobs can do that anymore). At some level they are fundamentally the same.
I can't find that comment:(
It’s impossible to ignore the effects he has in his role and they are terrible.
But more to the point, Stallman does not just want open-source software. He wants free software, and just based on my informal observations, his ideas of free software seem to be losing traction these days. Yeah, there's a lot of open-source software, but BSD, Apache, MIT and other open-source-but-not-free licenses are taking the lion's share.
Even among projects that do use GPL, they mostly seem to prefer v2 rather than the more-free GPL3 and AGPL.
He thinks the Open Source movement misses the point, but he has no problems accepting their software as Free.
Do you honestly believe that his comments help push for more free software? I don’t.
I think that claiming to know what someone else wants falls in the same category as speaking on their behalf - something that should only be done in very limited circumstances.
It is the sort of position that can only be publicly lead by someone who is more than a little eccentric. Anyone else would not be able to walk their own walk.
I'm glad someone says the things he says and I think it would be a loss if nobody said these things anymore. He's as much a visionary as Steve Jobs was, only his vision does not get carried out be a multi-billion dollar company, so he needs to keep spreading it with his mouth. He doesn't care about selling the vision, because that doesn't work in a world where many people believe Ayn Rand is someone with deep insight in how the world could and should be organised.
it's just a social concept (one of many) of how we humans should organise our interactions with regards to software.
I believe it's an useful concept and probably so do you. For god's sake, we don't need a spokesperson!
RMS has been saying very public things about Apple for almost 30 years. If he met Steve Jobs in person, he would not have hesitated to say much, much worse.
So.. did you say this to his face ?
Edit: I'll leave this up, downvote away. I made my comment on the basis of the first part - "If they've got anything to say to Steve they should've said it to HIS FACE when he was alive."
RMS's statement lacked any class or tact, and I will be more than willing to tell RMS what I think of his comments should I ever meet him in person.
As I have no doubt RMS would have told Jobs what he thought directly as he has done this in the past with many people. I remember him getting an award and in his speech speaking his mind about the people giving him the award (it was an opensource conference) about using the word opensource etc... He's not shy to insult whoever contradicts his views.
Also this isn't new behavior. Stallman has been like this his whole life. People are hitting back in this case because it is about Steve Jobs.
I'm hitting back because it's just another in a very long line of events that suggests Stallman is something other than a 'people person'. I've made the point before that I thought he was a poor choice to speak for the FSF, and was downvoted for it, iirc.
I don't think what he said about Jobs was that bad, but I think he showed incredibly poor judgement as a public figure in saying it. It's indicative of a lack of suitability for the role he's chosen.
He lacks taste, class and humanity.
Isn't that how we got a functional free software stack though? A "real world" "compromise" pragmatic guy would have bought another printer and moved on.
The world needs idealists. We may not always agree with them, they sometimes sound crazy, but they play an important role.
For those of us who've been around a while, GNU wasn't very notable until the Linux kernel came around. I figure Linux has probably done more for GNU PR than rms or anyone else.
It is certainly true, though, that without Linux, GNU might easily have collapsed in the early 1990s.
Surely most of us started out downloading free software from BBSes? Remember fractint?
Sorry, but if Stallman hadn't done anything, we'd still have Linux, and all the other software we enjoy today.
Linux was originally under a similar license. It could have died in the same way, leaving only the BSD projects, which have been much less effective at attracting contributors. You could argue that maybe without competition from Linux, they would have been able to attract more contributors; but I think the truth is the opposite — with fewer free-software users, there would be fewer free-software contributors, and less free software, increasingly marginalizing free-software systems.
And, without inspiration from Stallman's ideology, even BSD would never have become free, according to Keith Bostic.
So we'd have some free software, but we wouldn't have a coherent movement that strives to ensure that everyone can use a 100%-free-software system.
Are you absolutely certain about that? Think about it: if for example Linus had released his kernel with a more permissive license, he might not have received as many contributions, and maybe Linux would never have become as great as it is now.
History is littered with cases where a large number of people 'discover' or 'invent' something, and then one of them happens to be credited with it, and goes down in history as "the inventor". But it was bound to happen anyway.
You could say the same of Einstein, or ... even Steve Jobs :)
Not having software isn't a show stopper. It just means you have a bit more work to do. So yeah maybe building gcc might have taken a few months, but it wouldn't have prevented anything, only delayed the inevitable.
This isn't rocket science, it's just programming. We don't invent things, we just build what needs building.
If people needed a compiler, they would have built one. Jquery was an optional addition that some like using. It hasn't enabled things that weren't possible before.
You may not be aware of this, but people were writing working computer programs for almost 20 years before they invented compilers. People still occasionally write working computer programs today without compilers.
And I think jQuery is awesome.
> If people needed a compiler, they would have built one. Jquery was an optional addition that some like using. It hasn't enabled things that weren't possible before.
No software "enables" things that weren't possible before; obviously if it hadn't been possible to do the things that the software "enabled", it would have been impossible to write the software.
In particular, any software you can write with a compiler, you can write in machine code. It's just more work.
But some software gives you a lot of leverage. jQuery is a good example. A C compiler is another good example. The leverage provided by the two is roughly comparable.
Not having tools at hand is a major factor for not to pursue a project everywhere in the world. Not just in the open source world. I don't think Guido or Larry or Matz would have taken trouble to write a compiler to write Python or Perl or Ruby.
Not to mention nearly all major open source projects and many other closed projects are using gcc one way or the other. I bet even Apple uses gcc in some way.
Work happens by incrementally building on others work. Even Linus agrees RMS is one of the giants on whose shoulders he has stood to look farther.
RMS might have some problems communicating in most socially accepted ways. But he has achieved and helped other achieve far more things valuable. And he has done it in time. A lot of people have built on top of his work. And a lot of that work has made a lot of money and provided employment.
Its wrong to compare Steve Jobs and Richard Matthew Stallman. They are great in their own rights. But in terms of absolute comparisons, RMS has achieved far more than Jobs.
iProducts are the cool must have gadgets of this era, they haven't changed the world any more than video games have.
It's akin to car-bombing a funeral; something only really insane or angry people do. And last time I checked, Stallman doesn't have much to be angry about.
There... uh.. seems to be a lot of difference between "god kills soldiers because gay people exist" and "software should be free." Even though his quip about Jobs's death was tacky, I'm still gonna give RMS more points than the Westboro Baptist Church.
There's a big difference between being tacky out of ignorance and immaturity and deliberately hurtful in a public forum with a measured audience. Coupled with a sense of timing and purpose, any sane and intelligent person would be able to make that distinction.
And much like a car-bomber at a funeral, what sets Stallman aside from the rest of us is the opportunistic cowardice with which he operates. If he truly felt harmed by Steve Job's actions whilst living, why didn't he make a case for him to die sooner rather than waiting for his death to be fait accompli?
As for opportunistic cowardice? Have you ever heard of RMS before? He's constantly saying these things, and to anyone who will listen (and some who won't).
Likening Stallman to a car-bomber is far worse than what Stallman actually said - you don't really have the moral ground to call someone else an opportunistic coward.
On the other hand, a friend of mine does use GNU Hurd on one of his machines. He's a little loopy though.
Be careful, I think you just agreed with RMS there. ;)
On a more serious note, you seem to be doing some pretty heavy trolling today. Why don't you step back from the computer and go get some air? Life is good.
This means to me that Stallman is glad that Jobs is no more a malign influence on people's computing.
But he is not glad that he is dead.
That is exactly the same thing the poster says about Stallman:
"While I'd love it if Stallman would retire, or at the very least improve his social skills, I hope he lives to be 120. As long as he's alive, there's hope he might change. I'd never be glad that he's gone. And I'm certainly not glad that Steve is."
Saying that you'd love it if Stallman would retire means that you would be glad if he's gone.
Yup. Stallman tried to separate the Job's death from the end of his influence on the computing world. It was short and to the point and not the most tactful, but that molehill is reaching mountain proportions. Way more has been written about it than seems reasonable.
If you read closely you can see what has really upset people isn't just lack of tact. Its that Stallman's ideals of computing paints Jobs' contributions as a net negative. See this line in the article: and insult millions of Apple users simultaneously. It doesn't insult me that someones ideals give them a different opinion of a piece of plastic sitting at my house. I'm a nerd, but my identity isn't that caught up in my devices.
When that's your initial reaction, there's no way you're not going to come off like a giant ass.
Are there any FSF/GPL/GNU stuff on OS X? Ubuntu? (I'm trying to think of anything I use that is GPL/FSF/GNU).
I don't use any of Microsoft's stuff anymore because generally I've found better alternatives. I think open source software is a better philosophy. I think the same thing about the GPL/FSF/RS/GNU stuff, (I think it's a bad philosophy), and I'd love to rid myself of it.
Could someone give me some pointers how I can avoid RS's stuff completely?
If so, you and Mr. Stallman have something in common.
GNU/FSF/RS helped create a good alternative.
I've used their stuff, despite my gripes, because there was no good alternative.
Now there is. There's a tremendous amount of rock solid, MIT & other licensed open source software out there. And I want to switch to that. And ditch GNU/FSF/RS.
It's a free marketplace, and RS & Co. have to compete too. They got me to switch from MSFT, but now they're the ones who are behind the times IMO.
Apple has done a good job hiding those things from us to build a user friendly operating system and tools on top but at the bottom there a bunch of GNU tools.
I guess it depends how gnugan you want to be. But it's probably got some GNU code in everywhere.
Prepare yourself to abandon technology altogether, I guess.
How do people on HN generally feel with the idea that we allow ourselves to be offended/annoyed OR we should act rather than react. There will forever be people who say things like this that some group of people do not like but is it not their choice to either have a knee-jerk reaction or to craft an intelligent reply or ignore the person?
Basically, I don't like to allow myself to become annoyed or offended even though I've been in more than enough situations, even recently, to allow that.
Fidel Castro is widely believed to be in declining health, just like Steve Jobs a few months ago. People have been saying that they'll be glad when he's gone for a while; do you think that they'll suddenly go quiet when he passes away?
When redthrowaway said: "You simply don't say" he was describing how people should behave, not how they actually behave.
For what it's worth, I agree with you that it's just not something you should do.
You can get away with saying you're glad someone's gone if there are enough people out there who feel the same way. You can't if there aren't. You can't boil it down to a logically consistent principle or moral value; it's just one of the vagaries of human interaction. You can debate the merits of such an unspoken law, but you can't deny its existence.
Stallman broke that law, and that's why his comments were viewed as distasteful, whereas you could say anything you wanted about Bin Laden after he died.
It's not okay to express gladness about the death of people with whom you merely disagree, or who might have done things of which you disapprove (Strom Thurmond, Jack Valenti, Ken Lay, Steve Jobs).
The dividing line is something along the lines of "Did this dude actually murder people?" (And no, I'm not interested in discussing any particular borderline cases.)
Now, I think RMS could be more reasonable, it's not a nice to drop such negative and strong sentences about someone that just passed away. But my opinion remains the same concerning sadam hussein, we cannot just decide he is evil and then everything goes.
Saying that you're not interested in discussing particular borderlines cases, in your case means you're not interested in discussing any case at all, since every case has its particular borderline.
Your opinion becomes of little or zero value if you're not willing to discuss it. Just saying.
So as long as he's alive, there's a chance for controversy. Once he dies his followers can create gospel.
Sounds cultish, I agree.
I haven't seen anyone claiming Stallman is wrong. Just that he was a jerk about the death of a revered CEO who gets worshiped as a tech prophet. Jobs oversaw some great advances in the consumer computing market. That does not make him immune to criticism and especially not immune to true criticism.
I claim Stallman is wrong. To the extent that people may have lost freedom along one axis, they gained it along others. And these other axis most people consider far more important.
Everything in life has tradeoffs, and most people recognize that. Stallman doesn't with respect to this one particular axis (a warped view of SW freedom).
Do you equate freedom with empowerment? I do agree that Apple's devices have empowered people. But freedom and empowerment are not the same thing. You have more freedom to modify and adapt a post-it note than you do an iPhone.
The freedom issue is whether people have control over the machines they invite into their lives. Especially recently, Apple's devices force you into an (arguably exploitative) dependency.
And your distinction between freedom and empowerment is a false one in the real world. Freedom is generally about empowerment. Apple devices give you the power to exercise your freedom -- except along this narrow axis that you and Stallman seem to care so much about.
Really? To a hacker, perhaps, but to most people he made computing accessible, giving them tools that they'd never have had no matter how "open" otherwise.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2Tkj8SIHMU at about 4:30 mark
I appreciate what he has done with the GPL, but when speaking he could do a disservice for the community.
Something as simple as talking about "Linux" will make him crazy, as he will force you in a rude way to use GNU BEFORE Linux, always despising what Linux Towards made(and this thing called Hurd was going to be way better). As he talked it become obvious that he saw his role as more important than everybody else.
He has "command and control", "you are with me or against me" mentality.
One day, someone is going to have to fix autocorrect. It's batting 0 for 2 here.
I am definitely not saying that Steve Jobs was a jerk. I admire the man. But it seems insensible when the OP says it "offends common decency".
Also, IMHO, Stallman wasn't reckless about choosing his words. He says, he's not glad he's dead (referring to the fact that wishing death upon someone is not good), but he's glad he's gone (referring here to Jobs as a symbol of antithesis of the free software movement).
The OP offers an alternate version of what Stallman could have said. Its says:
"I didn't share Steve Jobs' vision of computing, and I wish he'd chosen to embrace free software. I'm very sorry that he's gone and we've lost the opportunity to have that conversation. My sympathies are with his family at this time."
When a person says something, it embodies his style and personality. Stallman shouldnt have to say something that is not his style. Also "I am very sorry he's gone and we've lost the opportunity to have that conversation" indicates that Stallman wanted to engage Jobs in conversation. Who knows? Maybe Stallman doesnt want to keep engaging in conversation. Maybe he views it as a tough battle and is sincerely relieved that people against the fsf philosophy dont exist anymore. If someone with similar beliefs dies tomorrow, he will count it as one more step towards progress.
There are very few people in the world who do not offer veiled opinions. Stallman seems to be one of them. Let us not tell him what he needs to say - but instead think about why he said it.
There's a time and place to show restraint.
How would you feel if one of your mom's ex-boyfriends came to her funeral and started cursing at her? Maybe that's what he did the last time he saw her alive, but you know what, there's a time and place for restraint. (Note, not a dig on you and your mom at all -- but recall that Jobs has family too).
Would it have been too much for RMS to say, "I'll respectfully voice my opinions at a later date" Apparently so.
But even aside from that, RMS did not 'come to the funeral'. 'The funeral' 'came to him and asked him his opinion':
"Stallman made these comments on his personal site, rather than on the FSF site."
In your hypothetical, it's more like the funeral went to your mum's ex-boyfriend, known to be critical of her, while he was sitting at home, asked him for his opinion, then acted all offended when he answered as expected. The ex-boyfriend didn't leave his house to make the mourners unhappy, he just said his own thing in his own space.
This is counter to everything that Stallman has spent his life on, so he says, "I'm glad Jobs isn't around anymore, because he was really good at fucking my movement over".
But, I also love Open Software, and, from Stallman's perspective, I can see why Steve Jobs and his higher and higher walled gardens was seen as a threat to the Open Source movement.
Now, as for me - I don't really care, because I _love_ my iPhone4, my Macbook Air, and Terminal.App is my constant companion.
All in all I thought Stallman's response was as respectable and restrained as it could be for someone with his unflinching posture.
He's a rude jackass that wrote some code and few licenses. He works on finding new ways to be a jackass to get attention.
In ideas and code, sure, he's contributed a lot. But he's no leader. That's something different.
Not debating what you are saying. Just putting this here.
This may be influenced by the fact that their primary spokesman is not a douchebag. Heck, I don't even know who it would be. Probably because whoever it is doesn't try to make himself or herself the story, unlike Mr. Stallman.
He may not be a very good spokesman, but he has been very influential (I agree his influence has diminished a lot in the last few years).
RMS doesn't lead anybody. And with his rhetoric, doesn't seem to want to.
Jobs is a legend.
RMS is a pig.
The point that they're missing is that Stallman is effective at what he does precisely because he violates social norms — much like Steve Jobs. Let me tell a story.
On the 9th of September of this year, I was at the Conferencia Internacional de Software Libre here in Buenos Aires. Partido Justicialista, the ruling party of Argentina, has decided that free software is a good idea, and has been trying to promote it. One of the things that they're doing is a program called Conectar Igualdad ("Connecting Equality"), in which they're distributing one netbook to every public high school student in the country, 1.7 million so far, dual-booting with Linux and Windows, bought with the country's recently-renationalized pension funds.
Another of the things they did was that they organized this conference, last year and this year, which was hosted by the National Library. Last year they had Jon "maddog" Hall give the keynote, and he talked about this thin-client internet-access project that he's been putting together with a bunch of folks in Brazil, which really sounds pretty awesome. This year they had Stallman give the keynote instead, and the auditorium was so crowded that I couldn't get in far enough to see him, so I hung out in the library's café instead. (This is Argentina; cafés are a necessity of civilized life, so there is one in the library.)
So I didn't see the talk, and I didn't even see Stallman on his way out, but boy, did I hear about it afterwards in the café. Stallman apparently spent quite a bit of time ripping up the Conectar Igualdad program, because of the dual-booting, because of the lack of support for kids actually running Linux, because of the lack of source code for the modified Linux kernel that was actually running on the machines, and for other reasons.
A person who obeyed social norms would not have considered doing this. After all, he was the guest of the Argentine government, who had invited him to come speak at this conference in order to reinforce their appearance of commitment to free software. Instead, he accepted the invitation and then spent his time shredding their appearance of commitment to free software. What a socially incompetent loser, eh?
A week later I was at a party, and I happened to talk to a woman who works for Conectar Igualdad. She brought up Stallman's speech and said how she had been so happy about it, because he had said all the things that she had been unhappy about but hadn't been able to bring up. And apparently now there are meetings inside Conectar Igualdad to fix the problems that Stallman so publicly criticized.
Stallman is what is colloquially known as an asshole. He has very little concern for other people's feelings or for social norms. And it's that very unbending nature that makes him an effective change agent. Deferring to social norms would cripple him.
On the other hand, if he were at least aware of the feelings of other people, perhaps he could be leading a much more effective organization, instead of alienating even most of his closest friends over the years.
A lot of the posts here are generally of the form "you can't speak ill of the newly dead". (Why? Because that's what regular people do, that's why). But adhering to social norms takes away from freedom. Indifference to what society prescribes is consistent with RMS's beliefs.
Call him what you want, but the man is consistent.
I'm guessing a lot of the angry responders here will have similar "I'm glad he's gone" feelings on RMS's death. Would not publishing those feelings give you the moral high ground over those who do?
But I think the larger point that both you and the gp are missing is that, sure, sometimes it's effective to violate social norms. Steve Jobs was famously blunt with his criticism in an environment that's excessively polite.
But RMS often violates social norms in a way that does little to advance his cause, the gp's story notwithstanding. Maybe this event was an appropriate time to violate the particular social norm of not criticizing your hosts. But it seems that, increasingly, most of RMS's violations close people's minds to the ideas he champions, instead of persuading them.
The point is to be persuasive. If it's effective to be shockingly blunt, great. Expressing relief at the death of Steve Jobs? Anecdotally, it does nothing to persuade me, and everything to dissuade me.
If RMS were a nice guy, who would you hear raising these issues? There's no real names springing to mind, not that have the kind of recognisability that RMS has (who's known by his mere initials, no less)
It probably seems to you like this kind of behavior is increasing, but I think that's some kind of cognitive bias. You'll probably never talk to Sofia unless you come to Buenos Aires, and so you never would have heard about her story if I hadn't told you about it. Similarly you probably didn't know about the conferences Stallman's been uninvited from over the decades, the old friends who don't talk to him any more; you probably didn't even know that the FSF had two founders. Because people forget stuff like that, or they don't talk about it and then new people never learn, and then they use Emacs every day. So when you see him committing some shocking social faux pas, you naturally think that this is some kind of new phenomenon that never could have occurred 15 or 20 years ago.
anecdote about Stallman ripping people up in Argentina
"A person who obeyed social norms would not have considered doing this."
You know, there is a gulf of difference between having the courage to confront people who violate your principles and wishing someone dead. Steve Jobs never put a gun to anyone's head and forced them to buy an Apple computer.
The fact that Stallman is known as an asshole is nothing to be proud of. Steve Jobs had a reputation for being tough, but he also had a reputation for bringing deals together and building products that brought joy to millions of people.
Arguably, Steve Jobs has put FOSS software in the hands of more desktop users than Stallman has. Every Apple computer comes loaded with lots of FOSS software. I'm sure that has every Stallman supporters' head spinning, but it's a fact.
I suppose I could understand if Steve Jobs had committed some heinous atrocity, but we're talking about computers here. It's so ridiculous, it borders on sociopathic behavior. It definitely shows a complete lack of perspective.
Aaaand I quote: "I'm not glad he's dead"
I think its a pity that Jobs was never able to fully embrace the idea of empowering end-users to be in control of their computers, but RMS's comment makes it sound like Jobs the person was his mortal enemy. Does RMS really think that future leadership of Apple will be more likely to embrace software freedom?!?
"Unfortunately, that influence continues despite his absence. We can only hope his successors, as they attempt to carry on his legacy, will be less effective."
Dear RMS: when it comes to creating good UIs, FOSS has never succeeded in keeping up with non-FOSS. Were it not for Jobs, there would be far fewer computer users and the free software movement might well be even further behind.
It doesn't have to be this way. Thats' the point. There is no reason free software has to not be usable by the masses.
FF vs IE for example.
Of course I would 100% agree if you are talking about windows/OS X vs linux in general.
The big different being that Steve Jobs would have made a comment like this. I'm not canonizing Jobs, but this was the worst thing I've heard Stallman say, ever.
I am, actually, one of RMS’ closest friends and can publicly confirm that he hasn’t alienated me, yet I have had other friends (who are oft-compared to RMS) who have, in fact, alienated me. Spending lots of time in geeky Free Software world often leads me to form relationships with people who are difficult to be friends with. Yet, RMS isn’t even in the top ten list of people I know in the Free Software community who tend to alienate people.
For Christ's sake.
Being inflammatory seems to be the poor man's approach to getting others thinking.
I don't think he enjoys this or does it on purpose; I think he's cognitively trapped.
Your article states a long list of criticisms against me, and I doubt
that they are valid.
In particular, I am sure the story about Sofia must be garbled. I
would not even _think_ that someone was an idiot because she asked me
a question I could not answer. So I don't believe I said that.
I can only guess what did happen. Perhaps she asked a question that
made no sense, and I said so. Perhaps when she heard "That question
makes no sense", she understood it as a personal attack, although it
wasn't one. This is a kind of misinterpretation that people often
make. With this kind of misinterpretation, she might have believed
incorrectly that I had called her an idiot.
I can't say this is what happened, but it is at least plausible.
Various other kinds of misunderstanding are plausible too. However,
it is unlikely it happened as she told you. I sometimes utter harsh
rebukes, but they are generally about something important.
That might seem like a surprising claim. After all, isn't it well
known that I have zero social skills, and insult people for no reason?
That is the impression your article gives.
Many people tell stories where I do that; if you collect them and
present their side as undisputed fact, I sound like a real jerk.
Thus, anyone who gets into a dispute with me finds it easy to say,
"Stallman was gratuitously nasty again," and a segment of the public
will nod in sympathy. Therefore, such stories tend to accumulate.
One point in the collection is that I have been "uninvited" from
conferences. I think I can guess one conference I won't be invited
back to: CISL in Argentina. After what I said there about the
Condenar a Maldad program, which distributes dual-boot computers in
which GNU+Linux (see http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html) is
present but many classes require students to run Windows, they
probably won't invite me again.
My criticism at CISL was necessary, given how much of the organized
free software movement in Argentina had drifted into praising and
supporting that program. I stand by what I said. But if you want to
criticize me a few years from now, you could accurately say I was
"uninvited from a conference" with CISL in mind. Without giving
details, included in a list of many other such criticisms, it will sure
make me sound bad.
What about the rest of the list? I'm not perfect, so maybe some of
them were my mistakes. However, you shouldn't suppose I'm at fault
just because someone criticizes me.
Is that a veiled reference to him eating the toe jam?
This topic inevitably comes up when RMS is the subject of a thread. It's easy to dismiss that as maliciousness or trolling, but I think it's at least partially a reflection of the image RMS is projecting for the FSF.
That being said, my observation is that if Mr. Stallman says X or Y or Z and we are discussing what he said, we are not choosing a spokesperson, nor are we any of “those” people. We are free to choose to evaluate what he said in a vacuum, just as if it were posted by an AnonymousCoward. We are perfectly free to debate X or Y or Z on their own terms.
If you or that person over there or this person over here would rather segue into repeating the exact same conversation we had last week and the week before that, and the month before that about how off-putting the man’s behaviour can be at times, well, that is your privilege. It’s not irrational to discuss it, just as it’s not irrational to discuss the fact that Apple’s first president reportedly didn’t like Steve’s body odour stinking up his office.
I remember when Steve’s star wasn’t quite so high in the public perception, and people did call out his eccentricities. When his products and ideas weren’t home runs, people complained about his autocratic ways and accused him of being a fanatic, explaining how his lack of appreciation for the “real world” and for “compromise” were costing Apple and NeXT. They harangued him for his abrasive manners and habit of screaming at employees.
In the end, I see the two men as having some great similarities.
Whatever non-free/non-open source Jobs did is up for debate on whether that's 'bad' or not, but that would still not wipe out any good. Of course, RMS is perfectly entitled to his opinion, but as he is the spokesperson for the FSF he could be a bit more diplomatic without going as far as saying 'Apple software is fine with us.' Something like 'Although Apple restricted user rights with proprietary software and DRM in its products, Mr. Jobs was one of the first to popularize personal computing and certainly had an impact on the tech world. My condolences to his family.' or similar would have looked a helluva lot better than what he wrote. Appearances to some degree do matter for the FSF right now
Even if you disagree that Jobs had any profound or otherwise impact on technology, he did just die. Have a bit more respect for his friends and family.
I highly doubt that common decency as an abstract concept feels much offended. And even if it did, I am sure it would be able to sleep at night. As to Apple users, if they feel offended by the insult, I would advise them to watch this little clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cycXuYzmzNg
Stallman is at his core inhumane. It is not contemptible, but merely sad.
And then we talk about the beard for 500 words.
Seems to be what Stallman is doing.
I read this as a thinly veiled tribute.
He said what he meant.
To me this hit the nail on the head. As far as I can tell, Stallman was just trying to be as inflammatory as possible. There was certainly a more tactful way for Richard to express his opinion on the matter, and he's done nothing but hinder his own cause with his vitriol.
Honestly, the first thing I do on a new BSD system is to install the GNU userspace. It's more code, but it does more, and that makes me more productive.
But there are plenty of projects attempting to rewrite the UNIX userspace, so join one of those and make it happen if you see "quite a lot of value in that personally". But by writing high-quality Free software, you'd still be advancing Stallman's agenda to let all computer users use the computer the way they want to.
I'm not sure how far they've gotten, but they're supposed to have pcc to solve that:
Optionally under a license that is free for real.