Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Response to "Stallman is Wrong on Steve Jobs"

There's a bit of uproar going around right now. Seems to have been started by Joe Brockmeier in his post "Why FSF Founder Richard Stallman is Wrong on Steve Jobs" He writes that, "This time, Stallman says that he's glad Steve Jobs is gone." There's a lot of confusion in this post. I'll try to limit my response to the main point. The post seems to imply gladness over the recent event, the death of Steve Jobs.

The best example of this confusion is when Joe Brockmeier writes, "I'd love it if Stallman would retire,... As long as he's alive, there's hope he might change. I'd never be glad that he's gone. And I'm certainly not glad that Steve is."

Mr. Brockmeier is using the word "gone" to imply "dead". The full quote in Stallman's post, "I'm not glad he's dead. I'm glad he's gone" clearly does not use the word "gone" to imply gladness over his death. How do we know this? Because he uses the words "not glad he's dead". The quote is actually from a Chicago Mayor over a deceased corrupt Mayor. It seems Stallman thought the quote conveyed his sentiments.

Mr. Brockmeier himself writes "I'd love it if Stallman would retire". The word "retire" is probably closer to the definition of "gone" in the quote used by Stallman again because it includes the words, "not glad he's dead".

Admittedly Stallman can be REALLY hard to understand. Here's the full post that elicited the uproar:

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. But 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.

To my knowledge, Stallman has never been about popularity. He sticks to a principle whether you agree with it or not. I'd argue that it is precisely this act of sticking to a principle that separates the Free Software from Open Source Software,

If you are an Apple user/fan, I would expect Stallman's words to be somewhat difficult to understand, and most likely somewhat offensive. But, I hope that you can still see the difference I point out above. Many people use GPL'd software on Apple, Microsoft, and other proprietary systems without any significant knowledge of Free Software, Open Source Software, or Richard Stallman. If Stallman's message is confusing to you, I encourage you to do a little research for yourself.

Personally, I've used Apple products in the past. I may find the need to use them again in the future. However, I choose to use GPL'd software whenever possible.

Last but not least, Cancer is a cruel disease. Sorry to see Steve Jobs lose his battle with it.

Just my thoughts and opinion. Hope it helps.

Jason Nocks


  1. There's something to be said for the idea that just because you're right, doesn't mean you have to be an asshole about it. Stallman doesn't understand that.

  2. Hey Ken, thanks for the comment. Here's something to think about. People have often used crass words to describe Steve Jobs. Check out:
    Some people say that progress is made by the unreasonable man.