Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

Summary: Free software's founder says, "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone."


Some stuff you can't make up. While many of us sorrow at Apple founder Steve Jobs' death, and others acknowledge Jobs' genius while also admitting that he had his flaws, Richard M. Stallman, aka rms, founder of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), stated on his blog that "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone."

Stallman's complete posting, reads:

Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died.

As Chicago Mayor Harold Washington said of the corrupt former Mayor Daley, "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone." Nobody deserves to have to die - not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs' malign influence on people's computing.

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.

OK, we get it that the father of free software isn't going to think anything nice about proprietary software's biggest champion, but come on! As my grandmother used to say, "If you don't have anything good to say, then don't say anything at all."

I'm glad to say that the vast majority of open-source developers don't agree with Stallman's myopic views. Yes, free software is important. Yes, the GPL was essential for the creation of the modern technology world which runs on such open-source projects as Linux, the Apache Web server, and the MySQL databases. But we also know that Jobs was also essential to our modern computing world. Jobs was our generation's Disney, its Edison. The bottom line is almost everyone I know in open-source circles admired Jobs. RMS is the exception not the rule.

By choosing to use the occasion of Jobs' death for one more public jab at proprietary software, Stallman did neither his personal causes nor the larger ones of free and open-source software any good.

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Topics: Open Source, Apple, CXO, Data Centers, Data Management, Enterprise Software, Software, IT Employment

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  • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

    FOSS would be much better off with this guy being gone.
    Not dead, but just gone.
    • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

      any sane person values liberty of FOSS over the Apple's cool jail.
      The Linux Geek
      • Actually no....

        @The Linux Geek .. Call me crazy but I knew what I was doing with every Apple purchase I've made over the years. Being a computer repair/support person for decades has given me an appreciation for carefree and project free computer devices. After all why in the world would I want to take my work home with me!?! So yes I went Apple. Now have i purchased every Apple product ever made? NO! I only purchased what I needed/wanted and when I purchased I made sure the pruduct Apple provided met or exceeded my needs and they did. I also knew I had choices like Windows and or Linux and I could purchase hardware from the likes of HP and or Dell or build my own which I've done for at one time in my career I did that as part owner of Phoenix Computers in Waterville, ME. Built hundreds of those suckers in my time. So my freedom was never threatened by Apple or Steve Jobs. Not once was I forced to purchase an Apple product nor use one if I did not want too. Sounds sane to me... Maybe it's not me and maybe it's the way you look at things and especially Apple that is faulty here?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

        @The Linux Geek no. Sane persons like functional systems than chaotic messes. Stop the scaremongering.
      • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

        @The Linux Geek<br>I think Stallman is an annoying extremist, but I'm all in favour of his willingness to diss the newly dead.<br><br>I completely disagree with the column author's application of his grandmother's dictum that -- "If you dont have anything good to say, then dont say anything at all."

        Such advice is fine in the context of social gatherings, but not appropriate to all discourse. Voltaire offers a corrective: "To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth."
        Xenia Onatopp
      • Freedom includes the freedom to choose

        @The Linux Geek ... I agree with @linuxfanboy: FOSS would be better served by someone with less extreme viewpoints that polarize people and make people take a cause less seriously, on its true merits.

        And I disagree that "any sane person values liberty of FOSS over ... Apple's cool jail." Part of "liberty" is having the freedom to choose -- even if that means choosing a closed system. Personally, I'm comfortable with Windows, Linux and various flavors of Unix, including Mac OS X. And when it comes to choosing a platform and software for it, I look to the tools that will help me get the best results -- for myself, for my clients, for my employer. Quite often, that's a mix of tools from the open-source and closed worlds. And as long as I and others are fully aware of the trade-offs (and there are trade-offs to FOSS, too) then what's the harm? We're free to choose the best solution to suit our needs.

        Oh, and I agree with SJVN that there's little to be gained by speaking ill of the dead. Personally, I admired Steve Jobs greatly. I've followed his career since the Time cover story on him and Apple way back in 1976 or 1977. Technologically, I was probably most impressed by his NeXT years. Marketing-wise, it's hard to argue with his second stint at Apple: he grew it into the highest valued company in the world. (It continues to swap the spot almost daily with Exxon-Mobil.) That's no easy feat.

        And contrary to the thought-provoking quote from Voltaire, I do believe that folks who earned respect during their lives also deserve it in death. There's little to be gained by trampling on one's grave.
      • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

        @The Linux Geek Based on market and numbers and sales - I would say you have a screw or two loose.
      • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

        @The Linux Geek

        I want to meet you so I can look a world class jack @ss in the eye.

        I have been an ardent supporter (and code contributor) of FOSS for many years but Stallman's comments turn my stomach. Stallman is a world class d0uche bag. He disgusts me as a person. He is what normal people call a "D!ck".

        Apple and Mac p0wn Linux and FOSS straight up. You keep on being a puritanical technocrat and the rest of us will lap and P0wn you in terms of professional development because we do not have artificial and self imposed limits on what software we can and cannot use as IT professionals.

        I have a question. Is ok for me to like my iPhone ?
        Duke E Love
      • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

        @The Linux Geek - I use Windows, Mac, and Linux (Ubuntu).

        Each has its strengths.

        Even three competitors, using the same hardware, is more of a choice than being forced to one.

        What you should be concerned about is so-called "cloud computing", especially as bandwidth caps become more common because, like this is a shock, that more people are using bandwidth.
      • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

        I agree 100%. No one ever forced me to purchase any computer. Seems The Linux Geek needs to look up the word liberty in a dictionary.
      • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

        @tangle70 - clearly you have never tried to build an app for the iPhone without using any other piece of Apple equipment or software.
        ...'cos if you had tried, you wouldn't be 'tangle70' - you'd be 'tangleinfinity'
    • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

      @linuxfanboy +1
    • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

      Why? Because his opinion is not shared by a larger group? His meaning was clear: He disagreed with how Jobs affected much of the computing world and he is glad that that influence has ceased. He did not seem to take any pleasure in Job's death. Unlike Apple products, brains like to reach out and not conform to a closed system. We should all think critically and do it as often as we can. We should also be open to the opinions of others even when they don't line up closely with our own.
      • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

        I agree. Stallman is not taking pleasure in Jobs death. He just showed his strong disagreements to Jobs contribution to the computer world, unlike Obama, Gates and many actually did.

        Stallman was right. Jobs had not really contributed much to society! Jobs was just a great designer and businessman. That's all. I do feel sorry for his death, but I won't memorize him.

        Have iproducts ever changed the way you live, the way you work? To my experience, No. My friends use ipads/iphones to play games on their way home, to browse internet during classes, and to just show off to girls. They rarely use ipads/iphones for study or work. iproducts are so revolutionarily distracting!
        iproducts, unlike Edison's light bulbs, is never a must-have in my life. After my excitement faded, I found my $100 Nokia is more suitable than iphone for making phone calls. It simply lasts longer(1 week without recharge).

        Ask yourselves "have iproducts made your life more productive? can you live without iproducts" before acting as parrots.

        On the other hand, what Stallman did is real revolution. He initiated a world with free softwares, without which this site might not even exist. Without the idea of 'free', will there be apache, mySQL and firefox? Just imaging a world where all servers runs on crashy Windows servers and you are using IE browsers. There is not even Apple's BSD-based OS X and webkit-based safari.
      • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

        @erick99 after thinking critically I still think Jobs contribution to personal computing is far greater than Stallman. It is due to him I enjoy working with a computer!
      • Jobs was a non-conformist, too

        @erick99 ... I see your point and agree that individuals -- particularly those who are deep thinkers -- tend to shun the norm and instead look for solutions and systems that allow them to live life on their own terms.

        I'd argue, however, that that's precisely why Jobs was the way that he was. Had he been a conformist, Zerox's inspiring GUI and mouse might very well have remained gathering dust on a shelf somewhere in Palo Alto and folks would still be forced to interact with computers through a command line interface. That undoubtedly would have prevented countless millions from ever really experiencing the freedoms that modern (GUI-based) computing affords. That could very well have been enough to stifle countless innovations. Imagine our world without GUIs, and desktop publishing, no Photoshop, no InDesign, no way to watch videos on our computing devices, no smartphones since they'd have only number pads and keyboards for input, no satellite navigation, no World Wide Web, no Google, no pretty HTML email.

        I remember the days before GUIs. I remember programming my Apple IIe in Assembly Language and even in machine language. I remember using GUI-less apps and having to remember countless commands. I remember having to remember cryptic instructions to cause 300 baud modems to dial into text-based bulletin boards. I remember awful dot matrix printers. All that stuff was hard to use and delivered (by today's standards) horrendous quality and output.

        I'm not saying Jobs deserves all the credit for all that. Someone else mentioned that he didn't invent this stuff and they're right. But he was a master of embracing and championing new technologies -- new, non-conformist approaches -- that could improve how we got things done.

        FOSS, too, has had an obvious role in improving people's lives, for the reasons that many others have mentioned, and many others.

        But to belittle Jobs' contributions to the world -- specifically those surrounding computing and technology -- is hugely disrespectful, and shows an ignorance of how the world doesn't function in a vacuum.

        The irony, to me, is that while Jobs was obviously a proponent of closed systems that he could control more easily, his contributions to the computing industry and to the world in general helped pave the way for some of FOSS' biggest contributions.

        After all, had Apple not introduced the Apple I and Apple II, IBM might never have seen a market for "Personal Computers". And God help us if we had all had to stick with Altairs, TRS-80s, and CP/M machines. The world would have been a very, very different place indeed, had it not been for Steve Jobs. And for that, he deserves acknowledgment for his accomplishments -- even if they're counter to FOSS' goals.
      • RMS has all the rights to speak up his ideas

        @erick99 Of course history is the ultimate judge, but I guess RMS will be forever in history. Not sure about SJ, no matter how many people think he was a genius. In mho S Wozniak should be much more credited with all the Apple ancient history. Tech heroes were those who developed MOS 6502 and Z80... the history after that was making success business cases of their utilizations such as the Commodore, TRS 80 and Apple. Commercial success sometimes determines jailing the future, and that is what RMS is talking about. Nothing against being successful, if you really change the way we do things for better. Other than that, commercial success is ephemera and will go away. It happened before to Apple... it happened to IBM... history will show the next big to follow.
      • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone


        Hey, kid - here's a quarter and a sense of history.
        First off, remember that Jobs was instrumental in bringing the GUI to the public, thus beginning the process of de-arcanizing and making computers accessible to the general public. (And yeah, yeah, Xerox PARC, and if he hadn't licensed the desktop metaphor from them, it would have been stillborn like almost everything else phenomenal developed at PARC.) If the GUI hadn't been popularized by the splash the Mac made, I daresay that the current cultural landscape would look rather different.

        Secondly, RMS did not "initiate a world with free softwares" - that would have been the people at MIT's computer labs starting in the late fifties/early sixties, and then moving westward to SAIL and also spreading through the late sixties/early seventies counterculture. People like Gosper, Greenblatt, Milhon, Felsenstein, Pittman and others were the true groundbreakers in that regard - RMS was simply trying to hang on to that time. It wasn't until almost a decade later that some Torvalds kid came in and kickstarted it back up. (Someone who Stallman has a grudge against, mind you - a combination of ideological differences and minor jealousy, I'd wager, although I couldn't begin to guess in what ratio.)

        Stallman doesn't care about usability - he cares about ideology, and it's ideology uber alles for him, damn any other concerns, no compromises at all.

        If you don't like Apple products, no skin off my nose. Not every product is for every person, and for some people they aren't a good mesh. (People who need a minitower for some reason, for example.) But for all the Apple Fanbois I always hear people complaining about, I see more pure zealotry in Apple Bashers.
        And for Ford's sake, do the research before you post. Don't be your username.
      • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

        Agreed. I may not always agree with RMS but I have huge respect for him and there are a load of issues I do agree with him - Jobs then again, while I never take pleasure of anyone dying I believe that I have never felt any real respect for him and there have been a lot of things I despise about him - and his company. I do believe that his influence has had a lot of negative impact on IT world so what can I say?

        Let it be also stated that I'm all for personal freedom to buy or not buy apple products - or even to respect this man or not - so please, nobody start with that on me...

      • RE: Free software founder, Richard M. Stallman is glad Jobs is gone

        @erick99 - I concur. There IS a rational difference. Not <i>rationalized</i>

        I could go into a dozen tangents, and would love to, but won't. Those arguments can wait for appropriate times...