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Richard Stallman

{ RMS is a legend and overall a great human, but let's be reminded we shouldn't be creating any heroes or celebrities. ~drummyfish }

The great doctor Richard Matthew Stallman (RMS, also GNU/Stallman and saint IGNUcius, born 1953 in New York) is one of the biggest figures in software history, inventor of free software, founder of the GNU project, Free Software Foundation, a great hacker and the author of a famous text editor Emacs. He is a non-religious Jew and an atheist (though he is the highest saint of Church Of Emacs), a man who firmly stands behind his beliefs and who's been advocating for ethics and user freedom in the computing world. He has also been called the king of software cloning, for he started the wave of making free, ethical clones of proprietary programs.

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ASCII art of Richard Stallman

Stallman's life along with free software's history is documented by a free-licensed book named Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software on which he collaborated. You can get it gratis e.g. at Project Gutenberg. You should read this!

tl;dr: At 27 as an employee at MIT AI labs Stallman had a bad experience when trying to fix a Xerox printer who's proprietary software source code was made inaccessible; he also started spotting the betrayal of hacker principles by others who decided to write proprietary software -- he realized proprietary software was inherently wrong as it prevented studying, improvement and sharing of software and enable abuse of users. From 1982 he was involved in a "fight" against the Symbolics company that pushed aggressive proprietary software; he was rewriting their software from scratch to allow Lisp Machine users more freedom -- here he proved his superior programming skills as he was keeping up with the whole team of Symbolics programmers. By 1983 his frustration reached its peak and he announced his GNU project on the Usenet -- this was a project to create a completely free as in freedom operating system, an alternative to the proprietary Unix system that would offer its users freedom to use, study, modify and share the whole software, in the hacker spirit. He followed by publishing a manifesto and establishing the Free Software Foundation. GNU and FSF popularized and standardized the term free (as in freedom) software, copyleft and free licensing, mainly with the GPL license. In the 90s GNU adopted the Linux operating system kernel and released a complete version of the GNU operating system -- these are nowadays known mostly as "Linux" distros. As a head of FSF and GNU Stallman more or less stopped programming and started traveling around the world to give talks about free software and has earned his status of one of the most important people in software history.

Regarding software Stallman has for his whole life strongly and tirelessly promoted free software and copyleft and has himself only used free software; he has always practiced what he preched and led the best example of how to live without proprietary software. This is amazing. Nevertheless he isn't too concerned about bloat (judging by the GNU software and his own creation, Emacs) and he also doesn't care that much about free culture (some of his written works prohibit modification and his GNU project allows proprietary non-functional data). Sadly he has also shown signs of being a type A fail personality by writing about some kind of newspeak "gender neutral language" and by seeming to be caught in a fight culture. On his website he also has an American flag and claims to be a patriot, i.e. leaning to nationalism and therefore fascism. Nevertheless he definitely can't be accused of populism or hypocrisy as he basically tells what he considers to be the truth no matter what, and he is very consistent in this. Some of his unpopular opinions brought him a lot of trouble, e.g. the wrath of SJWs in 2019 for his criticism of the pedo witch hunt.

He is a weird guy, having been recorded on video eating dirt from his feet before giving a lecture. In the book Free as in Freedom he admits he might be slightly autistic. Nevertheless he's pretty smart, has magna cum laude degree in physics from Harvard, 10+ honorary doctorates, fluently speaks English, Spanish and French and a little bit of Indonesian and has many times proven his superior programming skills (even though he later stopped programming to fully work on promoting the FSF).

Stallman has a beautifully minimalist website http://www.stallman.org where he actively comments on current news and issues. He also made the famous free software song (well, only the lyrics, the melody is taken from a Bulgarian folk song Sadi Moma).

In 2019 Stallman was cancelled by SJW fascists for merely commenting rationally on the topic of child sexuality following the Epstein scandal. He resigned from the position of president of the FSF but continues to support it.

Stallman has been critical of capitalism though he probably isn't a hardcore anticapitalist (he's an American after all). Wikidata states he's a proponent of alter-globalization (not completely against globalization in certain areas but not supporting the current form of it).

In the book Free As In Freedom it is also mentioned that Stallman had aversion to passwords and secrecy in general -- at MIT he used the username RMS with the same password so that other people could easily log in through his account and access ARPANET (the predecessor of Internet). Indeed, we applaud this.

As anarchists we of course despise the idea of worshiping people, creating heroes and cults of personalities, but the enormous historical significance of Stallman has to be stressed as a plain and simple fact. Even though in our days his name is overshadowed in the mainstream by rich businessman and creators of commercially successful technology and even though we ourselves disagree with Stallman on some points, in the future history may well see Stallman as perhaps the greatest man of the software era, and rightfully so. Stallman isn't a mere creator of a commercially successful software product, he is literally as important as the great philosophers of ancient Greece -- he brilliantly foresaw the course of history and quickly defined ethics needed for the new era of mass available programmable computers, and not only that, he also basically alone established this ethics as a standard IN SPITE of all the world's corporations fighting back. He is also extremely unique in not pursuing self interest, in TRULY living his own philosophy, dedicating his whole life to his cause and refusing to give in even partially. All of this is at much higher level than simply becoming successful and famous within the contemporary capitalist system, his life effort is pure, true and timeless, unlike things achieved by pieces of shit such as Steve Jobs.

All content available under CC0 1.0 (public domain). Send comments and corrections to drummyfish at disroot dot org.