Thursday, 13 October 2011

An indignant reaction to Stallman's comments on Steve Jobs?

Whoa. It seems a lot of people have expressed indignation for Stallman's comments on Steve Jobs. See for example this post, featured in a Slashdot entry: I'm surprised by this reaction from the community, and I find it a bit silly.

Surprised because I do not find it unexpected at all for Stallman to make such comments. In fact I would be surprised if he *hadn't* made comments similar to those. And I find it silly for the software community to expect a high level of respect from Stallman for Steve Jobs. It must be understood that in the eyes of Stallman, Jobs was a malignant influence in the software world. It does not matter whether you agree if that was the case or not. A point which seems lost on some people. For example, the post linked above states:
"He [Stallman] manages to offend common decency by celebrating the absence of a man who contributed enormously to the world of computing, and insult millions of Apple users simultaneously."
But in Stallman's view, the contribution of Jobs to computing where very unsavory ones - "evil deeds", in his own words. It wasn't a disagreement in mere preference, execution, or technical issues, but rather on fundamental ethical issues. Frankly, if I believed the same way as Stallman did about a man, I would also not shy of uttering the same words he did, political correctness be damned. (Although I can't think of any such person in the software world)

If one still has to quarrel with Stallman, it should not be with his latest comments, but with his beliefs and causes, the root cause of all his behavior. Beliefs which, of course, are the same as the FSF's - another point which seems lost on the poster, as evidenced by:
"It's time for free software to find a new voice. Once again, Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman is putting his feet firmly in his mouth."

Richard Stallman is still the perfect leader for the FSF, in case the poster was implying otherwise. Rather, he seems not to understand the ultimate goal of Free Software Foundation in the first place: that *all* software should be Free. Not merely some, or most of it, but *all* of it. They hold an absolute ideal that says any closed, proprietary software is evil. All that is very clearly expressed in articles by the FSF and RMS. A lot of developers seem to ignore that though, perhaps just because they like the FSF's contribution to Free/Open-Source software - they practically started the whole thing after all, a very good outcome for many people in the software world. But there is a *realm* of difference between merely wanting to have more Free/Open-Source software out there, and thinking that all software should be Free Software. One should not support the FSFs unless one supports the latter idea, simple as that.

PS: is "insulting millions of Apple users simultaneously" against "common decency"? Ehh... isn't that a bit of an exaggeration? I understand the comment might be seen as callous and insulting to Steve Jobs and perhaps those close to him, but millions of Apple users? Apple users are not "part" of Steve Jobs... as much as cult Apple fanboys might think otherwise.

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