Let’s get right to the point:
Richard Stallman is one of the largest problems we have in the Linux (and Open Source) world today.
He is a poor spokesman and he is out of touch with modern (and, even, semi-modern) technology.
I know many of you have already seen this (as it isn’t exactly new), but I present to you this video of Richard Stallman (head of the Free Software Foundation) picking something off his foot at a Q&A session, putting that tasty morsel in his mouth, licking his fingers… and chewing on it. Then, I kid you not, he goes back for seconds. (Jump to 1:50 for the good part.)
What’s the point of looking at this video, you ask?
To show that, in a public setting, he comes across like the crazy old prospector who has lived his life in a mine-shaft… and has slowly gone insane.
Remember: This is in a public setting. Where he is being watched and video taped. This was not some candid video that some sneaky reporter got of him when he thought nobody was looking. He knew he was in front of a crowd. He knew he was being watched in an official capacity. And this is how he acts.
And then there’s the fact that Stallman seems to have very little use for (or knowledge of) modern technology.
“The XO’s usual software load is not 100% free; it has a non-free firmware program to run the wireless chip. That means I cannot fully promote the XO as it stands, but it was easy for me to solve that problem for my own machine: I just deleted that file. That made the internal wireless chip inoperative, but I can do without it.“
Example 2: Stallman does not browse the web.
“For personal reasons, I do not browse the web from my computer. (I also have not net connection much of the time.) To look at page I send mail to a demon which runs wget and mails the page back to me. It is very efficient use of my time, but it is slow in real time.”
Seriously? So… he’s less technically savvy than my mom?
Then there’s the thing with him being super creepy:
“Dutch pedophiles have formed a political party to campaign for legalization.
I am skeptical of the claim that voluntarily pedophilia harms children. The arguments that it causes harm seem to be based on cases which aren’t voluntary, which are then stretched by parents who are horrified by the idea that their little baby is maturing.”
Read that again. Is that a joke? I hope so. But it’s hard to tell.
And, last of all, he seems to take any opportunity to attack Bill Gates that he can. Even if it is unjustified and makes no sense.
Case in point: He attacks the Gates Foundation. You know. The foundation who’s founders were ranked as the second most generous philanthropists in America and the organization that gave $287 million to AID research.
I’m going to be clear about this: I really don’t care what this guy says or thinks… except for when he is acting as a figure-head for the open source and Linux communities.
He portrays an image of pure crazy. And the mainstream folks out there associate that level of crazy with the rest of the Linux users and developers.
I’m not saying Richard Stallman is a bad man. I don’t know the guy personally. For all I know he could be the coolest dude who ever lived. But, the plain truth is, his public persona is harmful to Linux as a respected platform.
There are people in the Linux community that better present (and represent) what Linux is to the rest of the world. Many, in fact. So why-oh-why do we care what Stallman says or does?
Perhaps it’s like watching a car crash. Some disaster comes in and we can’t help but watch.