There has certainly been a massive outpouring of praise and sadness over the passing of Steve Jobs. The founder of Apple, who died on Wednesday evening at the age of 56, has been called one of the most influential men of all time, among other titles. But Richard Stallman, who launched the free software movement in the 1980s with the GNU Project, has a somewhat different view on Jobs and his influence.
In a post on his personal blog site this week he states:
Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died.
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.
Unfortunately, that influence continues despite his absence. We can only hope his successors, as they attempt to carry on his legacy, will be less effective.
It's perhaps not surprising that Stallman would feel this way about Jobs, considering Stallman's past and his views on free software. But his new statements have come under attack by others. ZDNet's Linux and Open Source blog has a response from Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols which states, "I’m glad to say that the vast majority of open-source developers don’t agree with Stallman’s myopic views." He adds, "By choosing to use the occasion of Jobs’ death for one more public jab at proprietary software, Stallman did neither his personal causes nor the larger ones of free and open-source software any good."