Richard M. Stallman, free software leader falls ill at conference

Richard M. Stallman, free software leader falls ill at conference

Summary: Richard M. Stallman, creator of the concept of the free software and president and founder of the Free Software Foundation fell sick at a technology conference in Spain.


Richard M. Stallman, free software's founder, falls ill at tech. conference.

Richard M. Stallman, free software's founder falls ill at technology conference.

Richard M. Stallman, aka RMS, creator of the concept of free software, president of the Free Software Foundation, and the primary author of the vital free software/open-source license the Gnu Public License (GPL), became ill during a speech at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain and had to taken to a hospital.

Some reports on Twitter said that Stallman had suffered a heart attack, but that was not the case. He began suffering in the middle of his speech and para-medics were called in Stallman tried to continue his speech, but finally had to give it up. He kept his sense of humor throughout the episode. When he ambulance crew took over 20 minutes to arrive, Stallman made a joke of it saying that due to Spain's recent austerity cuts "Here's the truth, [Spain's President Mariano] Rajoy wants to kill us all." (Spanish language link).

It appears that Stallman was suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension. Officially, according to the FSF, Stallman, who was first treated at the site, was taken to a hospital and later discharged.

Stallman is a father figure of the modern free software movement. While, personally, he objects to the term open-source software, his work is also regarded as one of its ancestors. Stallman also claims that he's one of the creators of Linux. Supporters of this position call Linux, GNU/Linux.

Over the last few years, Stallman, despite his continuing popularity is free software circles, has become seen as something of a crank. For example, after Steve Jobs' death, Stallman wrote that while “I’m not glad he’s dead, but I’m glad he’s gone.

Be that as it may, Stallman was the primary creator of the GPL and GNU C and many other important free software development tools under the GNU name. Without his programming and licensing work, the modern Linux and free/libre/open source software (FLOSS) world wouldn't exist. Health permitting, he will continue to fight for his vision of free software.

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Topics: Linux, CXO, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, IT Employment

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  • Stallman and Jobs

    I'm not a follower of Stallman, but Jobs could not have created NeXT or OSX without using Stallman's software to create the system and software, nor would Linux exist.
    • I wouldn't say that

      Jobs created NeXT and OS X based on earlier free software, sort of a head start type thing (reinventing the wheel), but if that software never existed, Jobs would have likely just had to create those OS from scratch.

      Expanding on a pre-existing piece of technology doesn't mean that if the technology didn't exist, everything after that wouldn't have ever came to be.
      William Farrel
      • I'm under the impression...

        ...that gcc was NeXTStep's standard C compiler.
        John L. Ries
      • Or he could have bought BeOS...

        Back in the day BeOS was the best Intel-based platform...

        There's an article, "BeOS or NeXT: Did Apple make the wrong choice?" that can be found online...

        Granted, OS X got most of the goods, but as with Linux in general, they were tacked on. BeOS had the bulk of it made, strongly, from the ground-up and thus was more advantageous...
      • Other C compilers exist

        @ John L. Ries

        The standard NextStep C compiler was gcc, but there are other C compilers that NeXT could have used. Unfortunately, developers often like features that are not part of standard C, so tend to become dependent on non-standard extensions in compilers like gcc, Microsoft Visual C, etc. Once that happens, it becomes difficult to migrate the code to a new compiler. This is one of the barriers to portability between Unix-like OSes (gcc-dependent) and Windows (VC-dependent).

        I don't know about NextStep, but I do know that the open-source BSDs have had trouble moving away from gcc, despite dislike of its licence, because of dependencies on gcc's non-standard extensions. Even if such dependencies were removed from the BSD codebases, a lot of open source software relies on them, so the BSDs would have to include support for gcc anyway. Supporting two compilers, one for the OS and another for open source software to run on top of it, would increase the developer workload without any technical benefit to end users. NeXT probably fell into the same trap.

        Whether gcc's non-standard extensions are part of a deliberate 'embrace and extend' strategy by the FSF, or just a result of developers gradually adding features that have not been standardised, is unclear. Either way, the effect has been to lock a lot of open source code into gcc, which gives the FSF leverage to promote its ideology.
      • Yes, many have an idea, and use any available means to make it happen

        If the drive is strong enough, impossibility is the only real obstacle.
      • Jobs & OS

        While I have no problem with recognising Steve Jobs as one of the leaders of his generation, I have to disagree with your throwaway line "Jobs would have likely just had to create those OS from scratch". Creating an OS from scratch is far from an easy task - ask Linus Torvalds (I would, more appropriately, have suggested asking Dennis Ritchie, but he died the same week as Steve Jobs).
      • NextStep was based on Mach

        @ LeMike

        NextStep was based on Mach, which has nothing to do with Stallman or the FSF. Mach was an academic project at CMU, and was actually headed by Rick Rashid, who later started and still heads Microsoft Research.

        NeXT made the mistake of using the Gnu C compiler. That is completely different from using code from a hypothetical Gnu OS (Gnu never managed to finish Hurd) or from Linux (which didn't even exist when NextStep was created) in NextStep. NeXT never did that.
  • Stallman

    I'm glad he's gone!... huh? Oh, I cheered to early :(
    • wow

      I like a joke like the next guy but you have serious mental issues if you associate pleasure with the death of someone you disagree with philosophically
      • That isn't what Martijn2 wrote

        He didn't write "I'm glad he's dead". He wrote "I'm glad he's gone".

        I can't be 100% sure but it looks to me like he is quoting Stallman's reaction at Jobs' death. Since Stallman wrote "I'm glad he's gone" about Jobs, do you believe Stallman has serious mental issues? It isn't a trick question.
      • But it was OK for Stallman to say that

        when Jobs died?
        William Farrel
      • yes and yes

        Agree, gone == dead. Stallman has serious mental issues as well.

        I guess I'm just sick of people being so extreme, they get plain mean about people they disagree with, to the point of hoping for death.

        Really what have we become?
      • I see a lot of extreme opinions expressed in Talkbacks

        But people are allowed to formulate their own opinions (even if others find them extreme) and communicate them to others, as long as they allow all others the same privilege and don't slander anyone.

        I think Dr. Stallman's position on proprietary software is extreme, but I also recognize that this extreme opinion motivated him to create a lot of very good free software (and encourage others to do the same) which I think has been an enormous public benefit.
        John L. Ries
      • Agreed.

        Philosophy is not action.
      • So do you feel the same

        About Stallman when he said [i]the exact same thing[/i] concerning Steve Jobs after Jobs had passed away?

        [s]But that's different, right? Cue the Double Standards![/s]

        Update: Saw your reply...
      • Re:stallman

        I only quoted Stallman, I guess most FOS extremists surround this website (looking at all the thumbs downs) ;)
      • being glad does not equate to feeling pleasure

        Relief isn't quite the same thing as pleasure.

        I may be glad after my older brother stops punching me in the back of the head, but I'm certainly not feeling pleasure. I'm still reeling from the pain.
      • So you support Stallman saying the same when Jobs died?

        Just asking.
    • What did he do?

      Was he a marketer and encouraged you to do something for him to profit by and then realize you got shortchanged, coupled by his lack of ethics?

      Doesn't sound like Stallman to me, but tell us the reasoning for your emotional-laden response so we can understand YOU as opposed to guessing... thanks!