Stallman: The Mad scientist of free software

Allow me to rant a bit and give my take on what is a big issue in the free and open source community. I’m not one that is big on licensing issues and the like. So the Gnu Public License (GPL) that is the foundation of Linux and many other open source software is the last good thing the Free Software Foundation (FSF) has really contributed. I could definitely be wrong on this and am open to be corrected however, at every convention I stop at their table and try to figure out what their significant purpose is to no avail.


What I have figured out is the core of the problem. At the beginning of this year I went to a lecture that Richard Stallman (the head of the FSF and core original contributor to Linux) gave. First let me declare that this guy is the modern day mad scientist. Extremely smart and extremely nuts. It was no secret to the audience of mostly college students, due to the venue being USC, that this man lacked etiquette and hygiene awareness. However, a brief exclamation of why he believed Linux should be called GNU Linux cleared so much up for me. I’ll explain.

In the beginning, Stallman had the idea of free software and started programming all the parts of a clone of Unix. It was sheer brilliance and a lot of time spent coming up with all the programs that surrounded the brain of the operating system. The kernel. Meanwhile, over in Stockholm Sweden Linus Torvalds was creating the kernel based off the Unix variant Minix. Just like a Reese’s pieces commercial Linus’ chocolate ended up in Stallman’s peanut butter.

Which is more important to a Reese’s? The chocolate or the Peanut butter? It’s a trick question because they both are equally important. However, now imagine if chocolate and peanut butter had to name the product of their union. This is where Stallman’s issue resides. Linus TorvaldsLinux was named by Linus Torvalds’ friends and followers. It’s the engine of the car they felt. Also, I regrettably must say, with the exception of Emacs (which I don’t even use because of VI) all the software would have logically been created to mimic Unix’s version like they are now.

It’s a regrettable situation because I must say that I’ve personally me Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman briefly. I liken the too to Dr. Frankenstein and Alexander Graham Bell. They were both brilliant minds (even though one’s mainly fictitious) but Torvalds was hard working reluctantly social Bell while Stallman was the massively confident mad scientist with little social empathy. In the end Stallman does have an understandable right to believe that GNU should be said before Linux but after a certain point does it really matter? To build a company of followers that faithfully extol your greatness but lack a good reason behind their efforts is now pure vanity that impedes progress.  Now to make himself relevant again he’s forcing GPL 3 on the masses.

Poor Stallman.  Doesn’t he realize that Dr. Frankenstien’s ego is what was his ultimate demise?  Go all ye Linux fans and shout Richard Stallman’s accomplishments from the rooftops.  You made this all possible in it’s current state. Now, let’s just get our heads back into the code and not the semantics of licenses or exercises in vanity.

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