Richard Stallman Discussion

RichardStallman (RMS) is a controversial figure. Some think he's a saviour; some think he's a great philosopher.

Others think he's an anti-business commie out to destroy the market for commercial software.

Still others think he doesn't go far enough.

Of course, these examples illustrate the will of the funding organizations, not of those individuals, unlike with RMS, where the issue is one of the funding organizations.

Stallman has a reputation as a:

He came up with CopyLeft because he didn't like where he saw (parts of) the industry heading, and wanted to encourage *forward* movement in a different direction. He had very definite ideas of the consequences. While some were eager to jump on the bandwagon of selling "proprietary software" to go with the increasingly cheap hardware becoming available ca. early '80s, RMS put forward the idea of "free software" as an alternate business model that, in the long run, would benefit everyone.

That he drew from his experiences in the MIT AI lab is to his credit. If we cannot incorporate the positive from from the past into a model for the future we are abandoning what we have already learned.

But on the other hand...

Stallman invented CopyLeft not because he was looking forward to anything, but because he was looking backwards in time, looking back to his early days at MIT's AI Lab. This is well-documented. Did Stallman have any idea of the consequences of his actions? Extremely doubtful.

Yeah, "forward" movement back towards what he knew at the MIT AI Lab. IOW, backwards.

A forward thinker doesn't react to change as Stallman did, they anticipate. A forward thinker wouldn't have waited for his industry to fall into closed-source, they would've prevented it from happening.

(single-handedly stop microsoft???)

A forward thinker doesn't defend against change, they redirect it towards something completely new and different. A forward thinker wouldn't have worked to reinstate free software as it existed circa 1970s. They would've worked to create a completely new and higher state of freedom in software, embracing all of the SoftwareEthics.

A forward thinker isn't someone who's dumb as a brick and only learns from personal past experience. A forward thinker would never have invented HURD, which incorporates none of the OS research of the past 20 years.

Stallman says a lot of things about how user groups should fund software products directly, commissioning the changes they want done, thereby taking power back from software developers. But is the FSF actually funded that way? Hell no! The FSF derives its funding from being at the center of a political movement called FreeSoftware.

see FreeSoftwareFoundationConsideredHarmful.

RMS' position isn't flawed because his arguments are invalid. It's flawed because he doesn't go far enough and because he takes no steps to describe how to apply any of it in practice. It's not that his position can't be applied in practice because it can. RMS isn't a hypocrite for preaching an impossibility, he's a hypocrite for failing to do what he preaches.

There may be a point, however, that he's more than slightly responsible for giving a great many people a taste for what's possible. I may be mistaken, but his 'nostalgia' for the old ai labs could be compared with certain individuals 'nostalgia' for life before massive government. There is some value in stating that we've gone off track - he's filled that position - and now it's time to get back on track. I'm not expecting any help from Stallman from here on in, but I'm grateful for the fact that there are people with some sense of "there's something wrong here", and he gets some credit for that. -- WilliamUnderwood

I don't want to put RichardStallman or anyone else on a pedestal, but, I believe in standing on the shoulders of giants, turtles, or wackos or whatever it takes to move forward and try to make improvements wherever I can. Swinging a (rude) sledgehammer at the foundation of something worthwhile strikes me as a BadIdea.

The nice thing about opinions is you don't have to earn the right to have them. Having significant production to back them up helps credibility.

RMS has opinions, but he also has a solid foundation of putting his thoughts into action and a long history of demonstrated talent as a programmer. A critic with no production foundation will lack credibility.

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