Rchard Stallman vs Darl McBride

Levi Pearson levipearson at gmail.com
Fri Jul 16 13:09:50 MDT 2010


On Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 12:16 PM, Charles Curley
<charlescurley at charlescurley.com> wrote:
> On Fri, 16 Jul 2010 11:43:57 -0600
> Roger Brown <downtownrogbrown at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> But I know this is a Linux Group and Ubuntu Linux is now my main
>> desktop os.  :)  Just trying to give credit where credit is due.
>
> As indeed we should.
>
> One book that gives some of the background is Eric Steven Raymond, The
> Art of Unix Programming, 2003, http://www.faqs.org/docs/artu/. It's
> ESR's usual iconoclastic (pun intended) writing, but well worth it for
> programmers and those who have the conceit that they can manage
> programmers.

ESR annoys me almost as much as RMS.  At least RMS was a real hacker;
ESR is just kind of a hacker groupie with an inflated sense of
self-importance.  He's had some good ideas, he's made a few code
contributions, and he's definitely been heavily involved in the
periphery of the whole open source/free software movement, but my
point is that the 'movement' aspect of software sharing and group
development is useless and annoying.  People naturally share ideas and
help each other to work on projects.  The early history of computer
software 'hacker' culture shows this, and it worked pretty well
without huge egos, figureheads, and organized movements.  The fact
that 'users groups' and the like have existed almost as long as
computers have shows this, too.  It worked just fine before RMS and
ESR went on their crusades, and I believe we would have largely ended
up in the same place we are now without the non-technical
contributions of either of them.

If you want my idea of a hacker hero, take a look at Guy Steele.  He
was at the MIT AI Lab concurrently with RMS.  They even hacked
together on EMACS, and he designed the original command set.  He
maintained the Jargon File before ESR did, and IMHO did a much better
job.  Instead of going on to found some movement to stroke his ego or
impose his vision on everyone, however, he published important papers
in computer science and has continued to work on standardizing and
documenting programming languages, including C, Fortran, Common Lisp,
Scheme, and Java.  He's currently working on a replacement for Fortran
called Fortress, which is pretty interesting even though it's not
terribly relevant to me.  Not all of it is earth-shaking stuff, but
he's had (in my opinion, at least) a much stronger, albeit less
visible, impact on computing than either ESR or RMS.  It's guys like
him that we should be looking up to and following in the footsteps of.

        --Levi


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