If you don’t like personal, blog-style reporting, you might want to skip this item. A few days ago, during a speech at Software Freedom Day in Boston, Richard Stallman has, at least in my book, crossed a line that I thought he would never cross.
Ubuntu developerMartin Owens attended Software Freedom Day, and penned down a few words about what RMS had to say at the end of the day. When it came to Mono and C#, RMS said that while they are not a problem, you shouldn’t write applications in C#, and you also should uninstall any applications using it. Agree or disagree, but this is an opinion he shares with many others, and his concerns are certainly rooted in reality. How deeply rooted is up for debate.
The conversation shifted towards Microsoft’s new Open Source labs, and in response to a question by Owens, Stallman noted that Miguel de Icaza “is basically a traitor to the Free Software community”. He also added that De Icaza is a Microsoft apologist, hence his involvement in the new Open Source labs does not inspire confidence.
I think we officially hit a new low here. I have no opinion on the whole Mono thing, and I don’t really care much about it either, but calling De Icaza a traitor to the Free software community actually got me a little riled up. Are we really talking about the same De Icaza? The man who co-founded one of the most popular Free software projects, GNOME? Who created Gnumeric? Who set up a company which employed several GNOME developers, advancing the Free software desktop?
De Icaza has done a lot of hard work to advance and promote the Free software community, and whether you like Mono or not, it is still a completely open source project, and enables cross-platform development for those who wish to code in C#. Why doesn’t RMS deride the SAMBA guys in the same manner?
De Icaza has responded on his blog about Stallman’s words, and did so in a civil manner. “I want to say that God loves all creatures. From the formidable elephant to the tiniest ant. And that includes Richard Stallman,” De Icaza wrote, “As for me, I think that there is a world of possibility, and if Richard wants to discuss how we can improve the pool of open source/free software in the world he has my email address.”
Kudos to De Icaza for remaining civil and polite despite such a low blow from RMS. While I respect RMS for his contributions to the Free software community, I think it’s pretty clear by now that he has completely lost touch with reality. The FSF would do good to silently but resolutely move him off stage, and install a new figurehead who comes across a little more… Constructive and civil. At this rate, RMS is doing more harm than good to the Free software world.