Bonum Certa Men Certa

Recent Attacks on GNU and Richard Stallman Based on Distortions, Lies

Boycott Novell food
Photo by Brandon Lozza



Summary: "Much ado about nothing" sums up the recent attacks on the role of GNU inside GNOME; clarifications are hereby presented

YESTERDAY we responded to criticism of GNU inside GNOME [1, 2], noting in part that there is a lot of distortion and thus misunderstanding. Here is a good new post that sheds light on the subject (there are discussions in other languages too).



A very key point was made here by The Source:

Listen people, you don’t have to agree with RMS. He’s not a god or infallible. Just stop lying about the man and what he says. Just stop lying.

If it only happened once or twice, I would be generous and assume it wasn’t malicious. But it is constant, and seems to come too easy to be an honest misunderstanding. I’m tired of trying to determine if a person is misrepresenting RMS because they are a malicious liar, or merely an uninformed moron parroting a malicious liar. It is quickly become a distinction without a difference.

One more thing before I move on: straw man. We see you doing it. You aren’t fooling anyone. It’s disgusting, dishonest, childish and malicious. Stop it. Stop lying.


Over at Linux Magazine, Bruce Byfield proceeds to suggesting that a Free software community does not exist.

To outsiders, the first answer that comes to mind may be hostility to proprietary software in general and Microsoft in particular. In fact, to many outsiders, this is probably the defining characteristic of the community's members. But the hostility manifests itself in everything from rabid denunciations to mild distaste, and I can think of one or two examples of people who do not share it at all.


This is not true, but regular readers are smart enough to know how to respond to it (the "Microsoft hater" paradigm [1, 2, 3]). Linux Magazine also has this inaccurate report which calls Miguel de Icaza a "Novell coworker".

Stallman had also run into conflict with the Gnome initiator and Novell coworker Miguel de Icaza. He had persistently criticized the work on Mono and the involvement of Microsoft in various projects.


The comments are quick to correct the author.

One commenter writes: "This is much ado about nothing, and the article is misleading. Peters and de Icaza said nothing advocating splitting from GNU Project in the foundation-list thread in question. The reference to Stallman's and de Icaza's previous dust-up seems to have given the previous poster the misguided notion that they are involved in this. Any split was entirely proposed (unofficially and non-bindingly) by Philip van Hoof in reaction to a perceived attempt by RMS to control the content of pgo. He also said that he would not seek to bring an actual proposal to to the foundation, but would support anyone else who did. Only other person seriously entertaining the option was David "Lefty" Schlesinger. It's a long and convoluted thread that touches on a number of related and unrelated issues, but it shouldn't be that difficult to get the reporting right. Yes, there was debate over purpose of planet gnome over what should be considered "appropriate" content. No, there's no (as of yet) organized move to dissociate GNOME from the GNU project. Linux press is in tabloid mode in this tempest in a tea pot."

Another commenter writes: "Stallman's comments are actually quite mild - he only says it would be preferable not to see adverts on Planet Gnome. He does not suggest a prohibition, or state that they are evil. The (over)reaction to his comments is (yet another) incomprehensible example of hysterical self-harm within the open source community.

"I guess Peters and de Icaza have some deep-seated insecurities about their new proprietary masters."

One person even says that "Gnome without GNU is a place in Alaska: Nome." It's a reference to the fairly recent Xbox incident.

Last but not least, Sam Varghese points out that the GNOME Foundation wants to hide this under the covers.

A few members of the GNOME Foundation have submitted a petition to the board, asking for a referendum to be held on making the Foundation's mailing list archives private and limited to its members only.


It may be a sensible thing to do when some people abuse the list by distorting Richard Stallman's words and then attacking straw men (not for the first time, either). Those who have looked at what Stallman actually said may find it moderate and polite. Dave Neary too was mature about this and he can hopefully lead this tension to an end. It serves nobody.

"Gates may be gone, but the walls and bars of proprietary software he helped create remain, for now. Dismantling them is up to us."

--Richard Stallman

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