back to article Riders of the Bearded Sage

Ever since Richard Stallman hit the news ... Whoa there, Verity! Not so fast. Let me check I have this straight. We are talking about the gun-toter who wrote that definitive episode of Frost that everybody is supposed to have seen. Murder in the Cathedral I think it is called. Right? No. You are probably thinking of Eric …


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  1. John Styles


    To be fair to Dr. Stallman about the parrot thing, the 'well meaning geeks do ludicrous and irksome things in a misguided attempt to please visiting speakers thing' is not unknown (I remember Spider Robinson the SF writer complaining about such things), and the buying a parrot thing seems all too plausible to me.

  2. Alan Bourke

    An excellent discourse

    on a weapons-grade fruitcake.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But, bad Job

    I am disappointed that RS is so one-eyed about Apple and Steve Jobs. Jobs and he have a lot in commong, such as their certainty in their own rightness and self confidence and their finickiness over detail.

    But the real thing is, and perhaps this is what RS dislikes,: SJ made a commercial (and consumer-commercial-popular) success from an open UNIX implementation that has been available in some form for rather longer than Linux.

    In addition, Apple, under SJ's management, provided a first class user interface for more than just the technical few and then had the cheek to include the basic UNIX shell interface, complete with a fairly comprehensive set of GNU, Apache and other open or free software, installed, working and supported without the need for the user to worry about where to fetch it, how to build, how to install it or its myriad prerequisites (the right libraries, disc partitions, access rights and so on). Even cheekier, Apple even encourages the installation of RS's and other software, complete with Apple supported repositories of much of it, simplified installation procedures and pointers to the original sites.

    Still more dastardly, Apple employed some brilliant designers and wrapped the whole thing in gorgeous, functional hardware, while being more often right than wrong about the future of elements such as floppy discs, CDs etc..

    To be fair to Microsoft, while not being quite as forthcoming, most of the "open" stuff can be installed on Windows too, without much difficulty and often more easily than on a Linux host (though not up to the standards of BSD ports). And when it comes to hardware, Microsoft is possibly even more open than Linux or BSD, definitely OS X, (e.g. driver support directly or indirectly for the widest range of hardware).

    It's annoying when other people play your game better than you do, as England find out regularly in nearly every sport they introduced to the world.

    This clearly annoys a lot of people, especially those who have not been so canny, who base their judgments of a product on the personalities behind it and those who believe in their entitlement to a free lunch every day, for life.

    Worse still, both Apple and Microsoft want to be paid, as do their employees from the top designers to those who clean the lavatories and wash the dishes in the canteen. Odd that.

    1. lurker

      Missing the point there I think, if you think Jobs is playing 'the same game' as Stallman. Stallman is a radical beardy fruitcake and his own worst enemy, but on the other hand his motivation is to bring software to the world for free. Jobs was motivated by a desire to feather his nest at every stage, and if he had to remove or limit people's access to or control of technology to make money he did it without hesitation.

      As to whether Jobs 'played the game better' in any sense, I should point out that GNU software is used by FAR more people than Apple's proprietary software. Given that every Apple product nowadays uses it, as does every linux system (and other free unix variants), and even many windows programs.

      So the only sense in which Jobs 'played the game better' is the sense that he made more money out of it. Which, whatever you might think of Stallman, is clearly not a game he's playing.

    2. Pete Spicer

      You do know that RMS has rather openly discredited OpenBSD (upon which OS X is based) as being non-free for merely *linking* to non-free packages, right?

  4. jake Silver badge

    Don;t needle Stallman.

    Like most schizoaffective disorder sufferers, he already has enough on his plate.

    For shame, Stob.

  5. Mark Berry


    ac"But the real thing is, and perhaps this is what RS dislikes,: SJ made a commercial (and consumer-commercial-popular) success from an open UNIX implementation that has been available in some form for rather longer than Linux."

    What would this be then? I'm guessing you think OSX has been around as long as Macs. It has not. OSX is fairly recent.

    As for the rest, meh, people write drivers for MS because it makes business sense, it is the leader in terms of volume.

    Research young padawan, research.

    1. Cazzo Enorme

      "I'm guessing you think OSX has been around as long as Macs. It has not. OSX is fairly recent."

      No it's not recent. It's a rebranding of OpenStep, which itself was a rebranding of NeXTstep. That was first released from 1989, having started development in 1986, only a few years after the Macintosh came out in 1984. Remember that the Mac was not the first Apple computer, nor was Mac OS their first operating system, as they were preceded by the Apple I - III and the Lisa.

    2. Sean Baggaley 1

      @Mark Berry:

      "I'm guessing you think OSX has been around as long as Macs. It has not. OSX is fairly recent."

      Er, no. OS X was based on NeXTStep (or however you spell it these days), an OS (itself built on a variant of the *BSD UNIX distributions). Its core actually predates Linus' first kernel by a good couple of years.

      OS X programmers still have to prefix a bunch of foundation objects with "NS" as a result of its history.

      Of course, if you'd bothered to do a smidgeon of research, you'd have known this, but hey, let's not allow facts to get in the way of a good flamewar.

  6. Cazzo Enorme

    I once had RMS staying in my flat (apartment to the Septics) when his previously arranged accommodation fell through. He wasn't a difficult house guest, spending almost the entire time typing away on his laptop. He did seem to take an extraordinary amount of time in the bathroom each morning, presumably grooming his beard, and complained that there wasn't enough hot water. The only other annoyance was his habit of leaving piles of used tea bags on the kitchen worktop.

    As for food, he didn't seem to be fussy. One night a bunch of Linux nerds (I'm more of a BSD nerd) took him out for a curry, and he seemed perfectly happy to eat a typical selection of food. The only awkward moment was when he found out who my then employer was (an academic publisher) - he seemed to have a grudge against them, and slagged them off comprehensively. Oh, and he's a bit creepy around women.

  7. Mark Berry

    lol, hand up, I forgot about Next. Never owned one, and I gave up with Apples framework just before the powermacs came out, so never seen the OSX libraries.

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