Grumpy grandpa

I just came across Richard Stallman's comments on Miguel de Icaza. Assuming those comments are true, I qualify this as the death of any moral authority that RMS could have to represent the free software community.

He is obssessed with getting credit for something that, yes he helped starting and yes he was part of, but, GNOME, KDE, BSD, X11, Mozilla and many other projects and communities with different, respectable and useful views on what freedom means deserve as much if not more credit than the GNU project for providing the free tools than an average computer user would expect from a modern operating system.

He is obsessed with taking Microsoft out of business, and he hates Miguel because he is one of the very few trying to taking them to play into our terms and from where I stand I think he has achieved.

I don't think Microsoft is a business model to follow by no means, but I think many people and institutions are attacking them irrationally without looking into where the real problem is.
In 1997 when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he stated that the assumption that for Apple to succeed Microsoft had to loose was wrong.
A very sound statement, and very surprising coming from the person that have all the possible reasons to hate Bill Gates and Microsoft more irrationally than anyone. But Steve Jobs was not stupid and looking at where Apple is now I'm pretty sure none can deny he was right.

Recently I read The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier in which the author analyzes some of the reasons poor countries remain poor. One of the statements on the book summarizes quite well the different vision on how to spread freedom that Miguel and Richard represent.

He states that politicized people tend to think in terms on winning and losing, since in politics, he says, you either have power or not. However, in economics and business, it is very common that two different parties can benefit mutually from a given relationship.

It seems to me that RMS is been so long in a strong political position that he has forgotten how the world really works, and he feels that the only way to justify his position is pointing his finger at the people who doesn't do things his way, which funnily enough, are often the people doing something.

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19 thoughts on “Grumpy grandpa

  1. The FSF does not (nor does RMS) “hate” Microsoft – if they developed Free Software, the FSF would praise them just like any other Free software developer.
    And I was at the event in question – RMS praised Mono, and complimented the great deal of Free software it is (he even had positive things to say about Miguel). He simply said that there is reason for concern about Mono, because of Microsoft patents, and for that reason, distributions should be hesitant in including Mono applications, and said that developers of new applications should likewise not choose the Mono platform.
    RMS went off on an anti-Miguel topic – but *not* about anything regarding Mono. He spoke of how Miguel developed proprietary software *while on the FSF board* and kept this fact from the FSF. Clearly, RMS felt betrayed. But he did not rant against Mono.
    Nothing RMS said was “new,” and was totally in-line with everything the FSF and RMS have always said, and seemed utterly uncontroversial, and uninteresting, to me. I honestly can’t figure out why posts, such as this one, seem to things RMS went insane in an irrational raging speech against Microsoft or Mono – he simply did not.

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  2. Agree!
    Except for the reference with politics.
    Surely in politics two parties can benefit from a mutual understanding, otherwise they won’t majority and no power, instead of sharing power. They might not even need to share, since each party have different primary causes that don’t conflict.

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  3. Dreamers often forget how the world works. People who do extraordinaire stuff too. Nowadays we have lots of great free software and many have entered a zone of confort. Do you think we could be were we are without strong and ground breaking actions? GNOME’s incremental evolution is the way to go… yeah right.
    It is not hate, winning, nor politics. It is sharing. That’s what Stallman does: share his vision.

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  4. @Craig:
    Have I mentioned mono on my post?
    @frejsoya:
    I oversimplified the statement, I’d recommend you to have a look at the book to get a better idea of why he says so.
    @David:
    Ground breaking actions? Like what?
    The GPL was an incremental hack over the existing Copyright system not a replacement of anything.
    Note that I’m not saying that RMS doesn’t deserve credit for what he did, I just say that he should share the credit with the rest of the people and organizations outside of the FSF.
    And more importantly, encourage the respect of others’ people vision.

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  5. I won’t comment on the remarks about Miguel, but I do disagree strongly with one comment Richard made: ‘The project looks to be concerned with permitting “Open Source” programs to work on the Windows platform and thus divert valuable developer time away from free platforms such as GNU/Linux’.
    First of all, Mono doesn’t focus on making FOSS work on Windows; if anything, it aids the reverse, making Windows programs, and related technologies like Silverlight, work on GNU/Linux.
    Second, making FOSS run on Windows *helps* GNU/Linux. I personally switched to GNU/Linux by replacing apps incrementally with FOSS and only later pulling the rug out from under them by switching OS. By the time I switched to GNU/Linux, I’d already used GNU Emacs, MinGW/MSYS/GCC, bash, Firefox, Thunderbird, and various other apps.

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  6. Well said!
    Competition in desktop computing doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Freedom is best served by inclusiveness and welcoming everyone to participate, especially competitors. It’s sad that Richard has lost sight of this.

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  7. “But Steve Jobs was not stupid and looking at where Apple is now I’m pretty sure none can argue that he was right.”
    How about “anything but right”? The way it’s currently written implies that Steve Jobs was wrong! =)

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  8. The GPL is not just a workaround over copyright. It is fighting the existing copyright system with itself. Stallman is not the only one I was thinking of at the moment of writing that.
    As for credit, he may feel bitter about the little credit the GNU project (not himself! SNGNU [Stallman is Not GNU]) receives. He just has to be a bit noisy about that.

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  9. @Jeff, @yada:
    This is what I get for writing posts at 3 in the morning. Fixing.
    @David:
    What is fighting is not the system, is a particular use of the system. Same as CC. Both are incremental upgrades that emphasizes other possible uses of the same system.
    I don’t think his bitterness is justified to be honest. But that’s just my opinion, so we will have to agree to disagree 🙂

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  10. @Craig, when I was at GCDS, Mr. Stallman referred to Microsoft as the “avowed enemy” of “free software”; the SFLC had nothing but scorn over Microsoft’s past violations when they contributed the Hyper-V drivers to the kernel project. There’s not a lot of love in evidence there.
    Calling Miguel a “traitor to the free software community”–and I don’t accept that Mr. Stallman is the official spokesperson of the “free software community”–is completely uncalled for. If you want to debate Mono on technical grounds, fine, but simply calling people names is preposterous.

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  11. “However, in economics and business, it is very common that two different parties can benefit mutually from a given relationship.”
    Which requires that you can trust the other party to not hit you over the head any moment.

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  12. Free Software (with no licesing issues, no patent nut-busters, and no “promises”) is meant to be used everywhere. In this we can all agree with.
    But Miguel _is_ a traitor, Lefty. He isn’t name-calling. He’s putting Miguel in his correct place. Miguel was always a Microsoft techfanboy and always tried to push on their view on everything. No more bonono or Gconf. FFS.

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  13. Cher M. ou Mme. Rouge:
    (Je penses que tu as fait une petite faute d’orthographe: est-ce que je peux t’appelles “cochon”…?)
    At any rate, if it was preposterous coming from Mr. Stallman, it’s twice as absurd coming from a nameless nonentity.
    I don’t participate in the FLOSS community to hang around with haters, griefers, exclusionists and litmus testers. No one’s “pushed their view” on anyone: ultimately no one can.
    Sadly, you and Mr. Stallman seem intent on pushing your name-calling onto the rest of the community. Evidently, neither of you is capable of conducting a discussion of the issue on its merits. Good to know.
    Aujourdhui, cochon; demain, saucissons.

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  14. Lefty, I think it would benefit your credibility on this, but also on other topics a lot if you would restrain your dislike for RMS a bit.

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  15. @ Van Hoof
    Miguel was the one that bided it into GNOME and promoted its use, same with other shitty techs.
    @Lefty
    Cochon was already used, thence Couchon.

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  16. @ Couchon Rouge:
    Could you elaborate a bit on what these “shitty techs” might be and why they are that shitty? Could you share your wisdom (and I mean technical reasons) with us fellow developers.
    I’m especially interested in your problems with GConf, to see how and why it does not work well enough for you.

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