Tuesday, 21 May, 2002

Stallman Unfairly Maligned

Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation, is in the news again.  But this time he's being unfairly maligned.  Apparently, RMS (as he likes to be called) was invited to speak at the University of Texas Linux user's group, whose name is SIGLINUX.  RMS declined, saying that Linux should be called GNU/Linux, and he would be happy to speak if the group changed its name to something that acknowledges the role of the GNU project or the Free Software Foundation in creating the operating system that is most commonly called Linux.  The details are in this article (linuxworld.com) by Joe Barr .  RMS recently wrote an article (linuxworld.com) responding to Barr's criticisms.

So perhaps you think that RMS deserves the criticism he's getting from the open source crowd in this situation?  If so, think again.  RMS was invited to speak at a user group—something he is happy to do in most cases.  However, he has no obligation to speak to any group, and he can decline for whatever reason, or no reason at all.  He is not holding the group "hostage" or somehow harming them by electing not to speak.

Personally, I think RMS is being unrealistic, just as I believe that his dream of eliminating proprietary software is unrealistic.  But RMS is an idealist, and he's perfectly free to live in his own delusional world.  He doesn't deserve to be attacked for adhering to his principles.