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Off the Coast

Week of May 9, 2002

'The only way to avoid moral corruption would be to have an OS that is free.' 'Richard Stallman is disappointed that Cygnus has drifted away from the spirit of the free software licensing model.'

Once upon a time there was a group known as the Puritans, so called because they'd attained what they regarded as a level of ethical perfection based on the perverse and twisted mentality that pervaded Europe at the time, and they were so anti-social and so ridiculous that even the British, who were admittedly very wacky at the time, could not stand them, so they set sail for a new continent where years later their manifestation would be in roller-skating car hops, theme parks, cotton candy, red pop and the like.

Their descendants ventured forth over the Appalachians and across the great plains and finally over the Rockies and then a little old lady happened upon an area right on the Pacific which she said reminded her of a place back home called Hollywood and the continent was complete. And then years later, in a densely wooded area to the north, a number of the rich descendants of William Shockley set up shop and this continent became a hotbed of technological innovation.

And from the initial overture by IBM with a notorious car crasher born in the tropical rain forests of the Northwest came a teeny weeny computer and brokers bought them and hackers loved them and then fifteen years later we had the home computer revolution and then even the clueless liked them and things started to go slowly downhill.

But a few years earlier an unknown 'finlandsvensk' named Linus Torwalds had begun work on a back to the basics Unix, and anyone involved in Unix at the time knew how badly it was needed. Baskin Robbins had nothing on this operating system, and the one thing all flavours had in common was that none of them were Unix anymore. So Linus said 'let's make Unix like it's supposed to be', and using a revolutionary developmental system, he set about it, and he set about it right. And so Linux was born.

Off the coast the Mayflower can be seen approaching. It will soon be close enough so its passengers can come ashore. They can do unspeakable things to the people who already live here - just you wait and watch.

And then only a short time ago, Linus did an unspeakable thing. The heavens shook, the earth trembled, seismologists the world around searched in vain for the epicentre, but it was Linus, who else could it be? It was Linus. He had broken one of the golden - not to say bloody - rules of the people on the Mayflower.

Linus had gone out and bought closed-source software. Yes, he actually paid money for it. People found out that Linus was using commercial software - ugh - to complete his work on the Linux kernel. The Mayflower hastened to make land so the staunch Puritans could stop him.

If there is one thing Richard Stallman will be noted for in history - and it is not certain history will remember him at all - then it is for being a ridiculous annoyance and aggravation. If history goes badly, then the historians will write that Richard Stallman created the GPL. If history goes well, then Richard Stallman will not be mentioned at all, unless of course Rob Malda is already in the books. If history goes well, and if Richard Stallman is nevertheless mentioned, then historians will say that Richard Stallman and his Puritans were a constant source of unproductive distraction to the creative work of Linus Torwalds with the Linux kernel.

For Richard's Chosen Few could not produce a better product for Linus. Linus told these insignificant blowhards that he used what he needed, that he didn't give a hoot about Richard Stallman or his idiotic GPL, and that the Linux kernel mattered and nothing else.

But for all the wannabes in the US, all the unemployed so-called Linux experts (who have never contributed code and would not know what code looked like if it slapped them in the face), this was more than they could take. Professionals only at disseminating hot air no one really cares about, they started to make the place stink. But did any of them have the character to produce something better? Of course not. All these screwballs can do is criticise. To them, getting a post at Slash Dot makes the day. Getting a post at News Forge is even better. Being considered eloquent is a mark of achievement. Let the random haunting thought of being real go hastily by.

Who won? Linus won. And Linus won because he is real, because he is doing something, and not just sitting on a chair growing his hair longer and growing fatter and uglier by the day. Linus won because without him the so-called open source movement wouldn't have shit. Linus won because he did all that and continues to do that, and Richard Stallman lost because Richard Stallman can only annoy, intersperse, practice Puritanism, stab at opportunities to get his name in the media, and grow fat.


Editor's Note: A more apt title for this anonymously penned rant might be 'Around The Bend'. Richard Stallman is more dangerous than the demagogues of the last century because he is too much of a fool to understand what he is doing. Without a country like the United States of America, where the fools march mindlessly into their churches every Sunday and starve for a new Jesus Saviour, Stallman would be told to go out and get a job. Stallman likes to have himself photographed with a halo behind his head. Think it's only a joke and no more? Think again - and meditate on the pictures here.

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