Enough of RMS

In case you lead a life which doesn’t take you into the corners of the Internet and don’t have even a little toe in the Free Software movement I’ll tell you who RMS is. RMS stands for Richard M. Stallman and he is the President of the Free Software Foundation. RMS popularized the “Free as in Beer” saying to something that is gratis (given away) and not actually free (as in speech). RMS is the ‘leader’ of the Free Software movement.

RMS’s favorite pastime, and it seems his only one, is attacking Microsoft on the Free Software front. In RMS’s world all software would be free as in beer and as in speech. Unfortunately this attacks are now including Miguel de Icaza of Novell, father of Mono. Recently RMS blogged about Microsoft’s new CodePlex Foundation and quipped that Miguel was a Microsoft apologist. RMS has been raging against Microsoft forever and there is finally a movement inside Microsoft, and it’s partners like Novell, to make Microsoft more transparent and a better corporate citizen.

I used to work at a local ISP which was built on free software, like Linux. Most people inside the company hated Microsoft and trashed it multiple times a day. I always wondered why those people would trash a company that is keeping them employed. Microsoft built Windows which allows a lot of people to do work on the Internet, which gave this ISP customers. To them Microsoft could do no good, it was pure evil and must be destroyed. It was this experience and sentiment which turned me away from the free software community.

I don’t use Mono, I lead a pretty productive and success career in the Microsoft ecosystem which keeps a lot of developers like me employed. Everyone I’ve ever met at Microsoft has been a nice, standup person. I also frequently use Linux and Unix for tasks best suited for them, like Untagle. But attacking Miguel, someone who is forcing Microsoft to change to a new world and a new way of thinking is completely insane. How many people who would love to turn Microsoft into a vanguard of open software are turned away by the things that RMS, and other like him, say.

As they say in corporations, change comes from the top. If the brass doesn’t by into the idea then it won’t happen. RMS needs to come to grips that Woodstock was 40 years ago and raging against companies won’t get them to comply. It wasn’t people like RMS that changed Microsoft’s mind on open source, it was people like Miguel de Icaza, and it’s they we should be supporting and listening to. RMS needs to change his message and his tone, from quipping and labeling people like Miguel as apologists to supporting them on their continued work and acknowledging their achievements.

Miguel, don’t listen to the RMS’s of the world. You’ve touched the lives of people who don’t even use Mono (like myself). I hope your successful career continues and you help Microsoft become more open and transparent, as it will only benefit us all, RMS included (whether he wants to admit it or not). That goes for all inside Microsoft who have the sprit of sharing and the drive to make software better all over the world. There isn’t room for hate, rage or petty squabbles, life is too short and software development is still young, only thought cooperation and openness can we grow together. But that doesn’t mean we can’t profit from it at the same time.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants, that includes the Microsoft ones.

About: Shawn Jackson

I’ve spent the last 18 years in the world of Information Technology on both the IT and Development sides of the aisle. I’m currently a Software Engineer for Paylocity. In addition to working at Paylocity, I’m also the Founder of Resgrid, a cloud services company dedicated to providing logistics and management solutions to first responder organizations, volunteer and career fire departments, EMS, ambulance services, search and rescue, public safety, HAZMAT and others.