Richard Stallman on Steve Jobs: “I’m glad he’s gone”

Well-known free-software activist Richard M. Stallman had chilly words to share about the passing of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Calling him “the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom”:

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.

Damn. That’s cold.

Stallman is a well-known and very vocal activist who pioneered the GNU Project to create a free Unix-like operating system and created the Free Software Foundation (if you’ve ever heard of the GNU license or Emacs, those are his babies). He is particularly well-known among open source software fans and is an extremely vocal opponent of excessive copyright laws that he feels keeps software out of the hands of the people.

Interestingly, what Stallman holds as his highest ideal (making software accessible to the masses) is precisely what he hasn’t managed to achieve, while Jobs abundantly did. Stallman’s geek-centric “information wants to be free” philosophies have not succeeded in making Linux any more interesting or appealing except to the fringe who are already using it…whereas Jobs brought tablets, phones and laptops to literally millions who, beforehand, were unsure about technology and how to use it in their lives.

While I have always respected Stallman’s idealism and courage, there must also be a time when someone measures the worth of someone’s lifelong achievements by how many people have actually benefited from their labor. Today I saw this photo of the Apple Store in Ottawa, Ontario, just one of many where flowers and post-it notes that mark the passing of Jobs can be seen at the entrance. I can’t help but wonder: When Stallman dies, where will his flowers and hand-written letters from ordinary people be found?

Source: The Loop

Corey has been been a tech journalist with a focus on Apple since 1998 and has written for The Loop, MacHome magazine, and as games contributor for The Mac Bible, and co-hosts the iGame Radio Podcast. He works as a… Full Bio