Richard Matthew Stallman is the President of the Free Software Foundation. He is a well-known champion of software freedom. He shaped some of the popular open-source software licenses that we conveniently enjoy today. It would have been a bad world out there without his determinations, and we owe him that much. However, no matter how great some men are, it is not noble of them to make pejorative remarks about other great people, people whom the world holds in high esteems, especially on the event of their passing away.
If Richard Stallman changed the world of free software, Steve Jobs transformed the world of personal computers and computing devices. His efforts with the PC business was so groundbreaking, it threatened giants like IBM back in 1979. From those early days, Apple has come a long way and created some of the most innovative products we find around us today.
If you ask me personally, I am torn between two worlds here. I respect Steve Jobs for everything that he did, and RMS is the very face of everything I believe in. His exact statement was,
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. However, 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.
At the risk of sounding defensive, I may cite here that “I’m not glad he’s dead, but I’m glad he’s gone” were not his own words. However, Stallman reveled in the death of Steve Jobs, and that was wrong of him. Nothing good will come out of this. It seems like an act of desperation, one that has brought shame to the world of FOSS.