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Richard Stallman's Dissenting View of Steve Jobs 1452

Garabito writes "Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, has posted his not-so-fond memories of Steve Jobs on his personal site, saying, '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.' His statement has spurred reaction from the community; some even asking to the Free Software movement to find a new voice."
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Richard Stallman's Dissenting View of Steve Jobs

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  • Thank god (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:38AM (#37661500)

    Look, I know no one likes to speak ill of the dead and all, but geez, last week's lovefest got WAY WAY WAY out of hand. Jobs was an important figure, no doubt, but the over-the-top platitudes were often more humorous and bizarre than heartfelt or touching. There were "expert" commentators on CNN calling Jobs the "most important person in the history of technology" with straight faces. People who didn't even KNOW the guy were crying like their daddy had just died. At one point I think I saw Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper make a teary-eyed pledge to throw themselves on his funeral pyre.

    I doubt Jesus' apostles were as upset after the crucifixion as some of the supposedly objective "experts" and "journalists" I saw last week. It's not like I expected them to get into the more negative and tawdry aspects of his past with his body still warm, but I didn't expect such unabashed hero-worship and hagiography either. It was just shameful.

    • Re:Thank god (Score:4, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:44AM (#37661586) Homepage Journal

      Look, I know no one likes to speak ill of the dead and all, but geez, last week's lovefest got WAY WAY WAY out of hand.

      Amen [slashdot.org].

      It's not like I expected them to get into the more negative and tawdry aspects of his past with his body still warm, but I didn't expect such unabashed hero-worship and hagiography either. It was just shameful.

      The media, of course, is in love with walled gardens, and are in awe of Jobs' ability to sell them. It all makes total and complete sense.

      • by DrXym ( 126579 )
        The Daily Telegraph did an obituary which went over some of his life in an unflattering way. Naturally some commenters wigged out that the obit could suggest their beloved Steve was actually a bit of an asshole.
      • by hitmark ( 640295 )

        And media basically runs on Apple, thanks to Mac bringing Photoshop, and equivalent tools for video and audio, to market.

    • Re:Thank god (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:48AM (#37661672) Homepage Journal

      I'd mod you up, had I the points. I even saw a somewhat disturbing piece on one of those Sunday shows asserting that Steve Jobs was indeed the FOUR most important people to influence technology in the past half century, since calling him the single most important person was apparently already too low a tribute. Steve was clearly very influential but to blindly say that he was "The most influential in history" is a huge reach. Just because there are certain groups of people who rely entirely on his company's products (not even a majority of those who use technology on a daily basis) that group (almost all of those in national media, it would seem) feel justified in glorifying him to no apparent end.

      And hey, at least RMS won't need to worry about his funeral being picketed by the Westboro folks.

      • Re:Thank god (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:12PM (#37667002)

        I even saw a somewhat disturbing piece on one of those Sunday shows asserting that Steve Jobs was indeed the FOUR most important people to influence technology in the past half century, since calling him the single most important person was apparently already too low a tribute. Steve was clearly very influential but to blindly say that he was "The most influential in history" is a huge reach.

        I think what we're seeing here is a dichotomy between technophiles like Slashdot users, and laypeople who use computers but don't understand how they work. To the open source technophile, being able to grab the source, fix a bug or add a feature, and compile it is a perk. To the lay person it's the same thing as telling them they have access to all the parts to build a rocket to go to the moon. They couldn't do it in a thousand years even if they tried, and so it's a nonexistent benefit to them - a non-feature.

        Apple's allure to regular people, and Jobs' particular influence, is that they make all this complicated technology easy to use. Yeah they severely limit the tech geek in the process, but most regular people simply don't care. To them, the alternative is barely being able to use the technology at all. That's what makes Jobs one of the most important influences on technology in the minds of most laypeople (i.e. the great majority of the population).

        I'm an engineer by trade and this is one of the things which confounds me about programmers ("software engineers"). One of the most basic tenets of engineering is KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid. Yet programmers, and especially the Linux culture, seem to delight in making things more complicated rather than simpler. They advocate Gentoo, and express shock and dismay that the "dumbed down" Ubuntu distro is the most popular. It's ok to revel in the bits and pieces that make technology work. But for the vast majority of people, the technology is a means to an end, not an end in itself -- a mere tool. Those bits and pieces need to be as invisible as possible so these people can use the tool to get their work done.

        With Jobs' passing, end users lost one of their biggest advocates for this simplicity in an industry full of tech geeks who love to tinker with the nuts and bolts. That's why the mainstream media is going ga-ga over this while tech sites like Slashdot are yawning.

    • by Presto Vivace ( 882157 ) <ammarshall@vivaldi.net> on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:50AM (#37661706) Homepage Journal
      that makes me glad that I do not have a television. It is easy to ignore the stupid on the internet. There is plenty of stupid on the internet, but it is easy to ignore it.
    • No kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Giant Electronic Bra ( 1229876 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:51AM (#37661736)

      It got a bit pathetic with people running around talking about how Steve Jobs invented the mouse, the personal computer, the smartphone, the media player, the tablet, and practically sliced bread. The guy was an excellent product designer with a good eye for where the market was going to go next. He was no more instrumental in shaping 21st century society than any other fashion designer. And yay, he was yet another ruthless capitalist, yawn!

      • I saw a report like that too, and was about to get angry until they showed the patent for that idiotic round mouse (ie: directionless pointing device) that came out with the iMac G3's about 11~12 years ago. Some cub reporter comes across a Steve Jobs patent for a mouse, and assumes he invented the entire industry. Never mind that it was the single biggest FAIL in the history of pointing devices.

        I (mostly) like Apple products, and am thankful for Jobs's contribution to the industry. But I also empathize with

      • Re:No kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @10:41AM (#37662668) Homepage
        The one who pushes a new idea past the tipping point can be at least as important as the one who came up with it in the first place. Tim Berners-Lee did not invent the Internet, but without the Web it could not have become the inextricable part of life that it is today.. Henry Ford did not invent the car, but he applied to it the industrial practices (which he did invent) that put it in a position to change the world. Steve Jobs did not invent the smartphone or the tablet but it's because of him that those are now household words and we're moving towards a world where everyone carries a personal Internet-enabled device at all times, and all the technological and social change that entails. That's already shaped 21st century society more than any other person in the technology (or fashion) industry has to date.
    • Re:Thank god (Score:5, Informative)

      by WankersRevenge ( 452399 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:52AM (#37661762)

      Dude ... the contemporary news media is entirely shameful. They will do this to any story that gets eyeballs. They will wring it for every last drop of blood, then jump on it to see if it produces any more and even when it's clearly dead, they will continue to twist and shimmy the fucker until there's nothing left.

      Do yourself and cut the cable. There's plenty of other ways to get your news. Or at the very least, keep it off for awhile. After awhile, you'll be surprised to find out that you won't miss it.

    • Re:Thank god (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:56AM (#37661820) Homepage

      It's got nothing to do with anything except that the news media loves sensationalism. To that end, they'd like to turn every death into a tragedy.

      It's not about hero-worship of Jobs. It's about the news echo-chamber, loving to hear themselves talk.

    • Re:Thank god (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheTurtlesMoves ( 1442727 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:59AM (#37661880)
      You know what my daughter said when told about Steve Jobs death? "Who is Steve Jobs?". Lets face reality, there was a few segments here and there about "wow this guy died and he invented technology man"*, admittedly by the odd "famous" person. But most people don't know and don't care who he was or what he did. /. is not really a typical slice of the general public in this regard.

      Now if Justin Bieber gets run over by a concrete mixer, you bet your ass you the media will get "WAY WAY WAY" out of hand.

      The nice thing about the media is that it is opt in. You don't have to watch/read crap.

      * sure the is a lot of buzz on tech based web sites etc, but that is hardly mainstream.
    • by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @10:09AM (#37662050)

      I made a joke on Facebook when Steve Jobs died. Something about how God was mad at him because iPhone 4S was just a minor upgrade to iPhone 4, rather than the long-awaited iPhone 5, etc etc. Some of the flames I got were seriously crazy; one girl compared Steve Jobs dying to *her two miscarriages*. I couldn't believe it.

      I'm sorry Steve Jobs is dead. Really. He was a human being, and he had hopes, dreams, feelings and ambitions just like the rest of us.

      But to put Steve Jobs in the same league as people like Alan Turing, or Ada Lovelace, or Charles Babbage seems... very wrong. He was imperfect in life, like all of us, and remains imperfect in death. He was just a man. 150,000 other people I hadn't met died that day too, but nobody gave a shit about them. 150,000 people I've never met died today too. If I broke down crying and sobbing for each and every one of them, I'd be a wreck.

      We as a society idolize the dead. I don't believe in extolling the virtues of the recently deceased. Given a long enough time the life expectancy of all Humans drops to 0; we all die some time, and when my time comes I would much, much rather people tell the truth about me and maybe even have a bit of a laugh, even at my expense. It's not like I'm going to care, I'll be dead.

      I find it completely disrespectful that people think the best way to remember and "respect" someone who's recently died is to gloss over their flaws and essentially tell lies about how grand they were.

      When I die I just want people to remember the truth about me, whatever that was, not some kind of warped 1984-ish false memory of a person who never was.

    • by Anne_Nonymous ( 313852 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @10:16AM (#37662180) Homepage Journal

      >> I doubt Jesus' apostles were as upset after the crucifixion

      That's because they only had to wait three days for iTombs to update.

  • Sounds fair. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:47AM (#37661638)
    Jobs and his company are based entirely on control of other people's property. You can't put the OS on your own hardware, you can't run your own apps on the iPod Touch / iPhone without hacking it, you can't use products which directly compete with Apple's offering on either either (heh). Are you all forgetting iTunes prior to the catalogue being converted to DRM-free MP3s?

    Horrible people can do good things just as good people can do horrible things, and a lot of the things Jobs did in computing were horrible. Pretty, and king of usability, but all a thing veneer on something fundamentally malign.
  • by Trevelyan ( 535381 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:50AM (#37661714)
    The link given on /. and latimes leads to a bullet point list of posts. The anchor jumps you to Stallman's Oct 6 bullet point, but I can't find the a link to the full article?!

    http://stallman.org/archives/2011-jul-oct.html#06_October_2011_(Steve_Jobs) [stallman.org]

    What did I miss?
  • Sorry to say it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:50AM (#37661720)

    ... but I agree with stallman. Jobs figured out that you can make aesthetically pleasing stuff and make a lot of profit off simplifying hardware design for everyday people BUT this has a negative effect on those who actually use computers and computing devices as something beyond a toaster or glorified television. Jobs just turned computing devices into consumer items. The downside is that his companies success with walled gardens is giving a lot of other companies and developers the same idea of creating walled gardens where you never own anything, can't modify it, etc. A kind of kind of feudalistic computing.

    I've watched gaming go downhill over the last 10 years with the rise shit like world of warcraft showing everyone the path to walled garden land because there are enough stupid people who don't give a shit about gaming that will just take it up the ass because they aren't passionate about games. So we get things like Starcraft 2 chained to online, no LAN, we get permanent online DRM being pushed and crap like onlive. At this point I really want to burn down the software industry. I remember a time when blizzard wasn't as evil as it is today and you actually were treated like a customer rather then a magpie with a wallet.

    In the same way, people who work in computing, and do computing and are passionate about computing need freedom from corporate tyranny to innovate. Each generation of tinkering kids becomes the next set of developers/entrepreneurs/innovators. To lock everything behind a walled garden just creates a big mess and ensures solutions are suffocated or co-opted for someones personal greed with a net negative for humanity as a whole.

    All great innovations are built upon mountains of others that came before them, locking them down is just a surefire way to suffocate progress.

  • by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:56AM (#37661836)

    for ReadWriteWeb to find a new editor, one that doesn't pander to fanboys

    Steve Jobs was also in part responsible for a lot of bad, remember the Foxconn worker 'suicide'? Or how about suing journalists? Or hiring security that pretended to be police? Or requiring employees submit to searches or be fired?

  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) * on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:57AM (#37661842) Homepage Journal

    Stallman is an asshole.

    With that out of the way, he speaks true. I abandoned everything Apple for exactly the reasons he pointed out and I hope, as Stallman does, that Apple will become less anally retentive in the future.

    Stallman is that guy who takes his job way to seriously. He loses touch with reality, he loses friends, his only friends are those with the same goals, but he even dismisses them for not being as committed as he is. In the end Stallman does the real work needed by the FOSS movement, he benefits the movement greatly, however he's like the overnight shift in a 24 hour production facility. Often the very best workers are on the overnight shift, not because you don't want the secrets to their efficiency accidentally leaked to someone passing through, but because the most talented people are often such eccentric weirdo's you only want the results of their work seen, not the workers themselves.

    That last article condemning Stallman was just completely out of tune with the man himself. He wasn't hateful towards Job's himself, Stallman has a goal in mind and he wont rest until it's accomplished. He will never accomplish it. His goal of all software being 100% open source, patent free, and free in every way will never happen, and it's one of the places I differ with him. I support someones right to make money off of software, I do agree FOSS is the way to go and I do think even closed source software should eventually become open, but I do support someone closing source for a time to make a profit, and this is where I disagree with Stallman, who I see as an Old Testament Prophet of the Open Code.

  • by FridayBob ( 619244 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:57AM (#37661844) Homepage
    Just because Jobs was innovative, popular and successful doesn't mean he was a saint. Considering his closed hardware platforms, Jobs showed us that his views were perhaps even more the antithesis of the FOSS movement than those of Mr. Bill.
  • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:59AM (#37661884)

    > His statement has spurred reaction from the community; some even asking to the Free Software movement to find a new voice.

    I agree with them. Furthermore, I propose that anyone making fun of Steve Jobs in a cartoon should be stoned with bricked iPhones. Don't let the Infidels smear the name of The Prophet. Inch' Apple.

  • by guanxi ( 216397 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @10:00AM (#37661906)

    What is it about FOSS that inspires such blind arrogance that they shoot themselves in the foot? Stallman is hurting his cause, just as a Mozilla employee recently hurt their cause -- by feeling and expressing contempt for those who don't share their vision, and by lacking respect, decency, maturity, and basic business sense.

    Unfortunately it raises doubts about the competency of some FOSS organizations. If they don't have the understanding to respect other points of view, or the sense to do simple things in their own self-interest, who can rely on them?

    I strongly support FOSS. It depresses me that so many leaders needlessly damage the cause.

  • Fair and Balanced (Score:5, Insightful)

    by organgtool ( 966989 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @10:06AM (#37662012)
    I would agree with most of the people who are upset with RMS over this if it weren't for the way in which the media overreacted to Jobs' passing. I know it's typical to focus on the positive aspects of a person's life after they die, but the media rose Steve Jobs to the level of a god. They focused on his revival of Apple while ignoring the fact that he had a big part in its original downward spiral. They exalted Jobs' focus on good design principles while ignoring the fact that he created a corporate culture of trying to sue all of the competition out of the market. They trumpeted the success of the iPhone and iPad while ignoring the walled gardens they created. It's not my place to say whether or not Jobs' presence in the market was a net positive or negative, but I think it's fair for the media to cover both sides of a person's life as long as it is done with tact.
  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @10:07AM (#37662018)

    Richard Stallman is unfortunate. Being correct but not politically correct is a tough equation.

  • Reality Check, RMS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fished ( 574624 ) <amphigoryNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday October 10, 2011 @10:07AM (#37662026)
    What's Jobs guilty of? Making products that people want to buy, at prices they want to pay. Leading a company (or really a bunch of companies) that did some outstanding engineering that led to some incredible products that people really want to buy at prices that were on the high side, but people still willingly paid them. You (and the free software movement in general), with the help of the Unholy St. IGNUcius, of the Church of Emacs, are welcome to try to produce a product that people like better. However, if Emacs is any indication, I think you have a ways to go.
    • Don't look now, but your Apple is showing. Here's a reality check for you, if you care to open the "scary terminal" in your copy of Lion....

      Look at what's buried below that clean, unblemished UI.... BSD. Free Software. Stuff that "has a ways to go" before it reaches Apple's level of "absorption".

  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @10:11AM (#37662078) Homepage Journal

    ... is wholly good or wholly evil. Can we leave it at that?

  • by ZenDragon ( 1205104 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @10:19AM (#37662224)
    All due respect to the deceased, and his family. But that company is/was horrible from an ethical standpoint. They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but they put a lot of people out of business for trivial copycatting. From the cookie shop in NY ( if I recall) being sued for making iPhone cookies, to the carpenter sued for making decorative wooden iPhone plaques. I don't know if any of those cases made it to court, but that's not the point. They sued the living hell out of anybody that even looked at them wrong without permission. Not to mention the ongoing suits against the rest of the technology world, so many lawsuits open right now I cant even recall. Jobs was a huge proponent of defending his copyrights, but he very often took it WAY to far. For example, attempting to enforce patents on touch screen gestures? Really? I actually like a lot of Apple hardware, they certainly have their place in the industry, but they will never be more than a niche marketing firm until they pull their heads out of their asses. RIP jobs, despite all his failings as a ethical human being he was a brilliant marketeer and business man. I give respect where respect is due but otherwise; while am certainly not happy that he is dead, I AM glad that there is now somebody else at the Apples helm. Hopefully Mr Cook, has a bit more common sense with the company going forward.
  • by Per Wigren ( 5315 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @10:27AM (#37662362) Homepage
    This comment on the readwriteweb.com article was so good I decided to paste it here:

    Stallman is the anti-Jobs in many ways. But they"re both brilliant, driven, uncompromising geniuses. And to say that Stallman hasn't had as much impact on the world as Jobs is wrong on it's face, in my opinion. I reckon more devices have Linux installed than any Apple OS. How many startups would have been crushed by server OS costs without GNU/Linux as an option, even just by driving down the price of competitors? How many pieces of software that started as hobby hacking wouldn't exist with a free C compiler? App store? Linux had this years before the iPhone? Safari's engine started in KDE. Mac interface descended from X. Super-computing, internet plumbing, all dominated by Linux and GNU for a reason. Then there's Android.

    If you don't like him, Stallman gives you plenty of ammunition. The same could be said about Jobs (personal emails to disgruntled users?) He spoke his mind, and a lot of people may not like what he said. In his mind, the world of software is a secret war for the freedom of billions of people. He believes proprietary software is a precursor to real live Soviet style oppression. He thinks Jobs is/was creating the world that appeared in the iconic 1984 Mac commercial. And if he believes that, blunting his words would be a disservice to history and posterity.

    Steve Jobs was one to the most powerful on the planet. He's gonna have enemies. He knew that and didn't much care. I doubt his family is surfing Stallman's website looking for an epitaph.

    As for the spokesman thing, I don't see RMS as that. He's the visionary. He's supposed to be unbending, uncompromising, theory based. He's not supposed to sugercoat. He's a coder, not a CEO.

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @11:02AM (#37663056) Journal

    Nobody deserves to have to die — not Jobs, not Mr. Bill...

    Interesting choice of words. I'm not sure if "Mr. Bill" is a reference to Bill Gates or Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live [mrbill.com]. Because I actually think SNL's Mr. Bill does deserve to die. Have you seen what they do to that guy? Every episode they're either running him over or chopping off some body part... they should just let him rest in peace. And in pieces, in his case.

    Of course, now this makes me wonder if SNL's Mr. Bill started out as someone's sick commentary on Mr. Gates. Perhaps the creator's computer blue-screened when Office tried to load Clippy, and he started composing these skits while he waited for the reboot. "It looks like you're trying to write a letter. What you do is-- OH NOOO... I got a paper cut and it severed my arm! Oh NOOOOO...."

  • Amazing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by squidflakes ( 905524 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @11:05AM (#37663126) Homepage

    Jobs wasn't a great innovator in technology, but he was a pretty great salesman and marketer. One of his greatest marketing campaigns was convincing people that he was some sort of fantastic technological innovator.

    His second great achievement was having a pretty plastic shell designed for a bucket of computer innards and then charging double over the nearest competing product, and actually making sales.

    Third, he recognized the power of good design in both the interface and the a fore mentioned pretty plastic shell. While I've listed this third, it is probably his greatest, longest lasting, and closest to technical innovation. Apple, as a company, really gets design. It shows in every single one of their products, and often times has won out over functionality. I wish more companies got design at the same fundamental level, but integrated it better with function.

    Fourth, Steve Jobs managed to get a whole generation to believe that they were thinking differently by purchasing the same computer.

  • by Fujisawa Sensei ( 207127 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @11:06AM (#37663152) Journal

    RMS talks about greed and freedom. But this is the man who insists on renaming somebody else's operating system, Linux, to GNU/Linux because they used his free shit to make it. So what is it Dick, is your shit not really free? Linux owns the trademark for Linux, the and GNU is owned by your cronies.

    Does that mean that if I come up with my own kernel, lets call it Assfuck, using your GNU shit, calling it GNU/Assfuck is appropriate?

    Job was a visionary, zealot, and a control freak who demanded things his way. That made him a dick. But RMS is also a visionary, zealot, control freak who demands things his way as well; that makes him just as big a dick as Jobs.

  • by woboyle ( 1044168 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @11:23AM (#37663556)
    Stallman was just voicing his long and honestly held beliefs that a free and open software environment is a major benefit to society, and that closed systems such as promulgated by Jobs is not in people's best interests, but is only in the best interest of those who own the system - Jobs/Apple in this case. Yes, Jobs was a brilliant visionary and executor of his vision, but that vision was to limit people's choices to those he approved of. If our government were to do that (oops, they must have read his book) we would be up in arms...

Real Programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for programmers who can't decide whether to write in COBOL or FORTRAN.