RMS and BASH: Keeping Linux Insecure Since the Beginning

I’m re-watching the speech Richard Stallman made after he received the Torvalds award at LinuxWorld in 1999. Sheesh! To me, he comes across as mean. Does RMS think he’s the digital Jesus or something?

I realize that GNU and the Free Software Foundation have made huge contributions to open computing. I salute Mr. Stallman for his efforts. I just don’t see why he needed to bash Linux and Mr. Torvalds publicly, rather than gracefully and thankfully accepting the award (and financial support).

Is he really that upset that GNU HURD is still a failure to launch?

Before I ramble on, you might want to watch the video to get some context:

I understand that Mr. Stallman may be upset that he was beat to the punch on a free POSIX kernel by someone who is neither part of his organization nor his movement. I get: free as in free speech. Yes, most closed-source, proprietary software is less than optimal.

The fact that Linus doesn’t force us to use only free–on RMS’s terms–software, and that he finished an excellent kernel, while HURD was still in the design phase, are not reasons to BASH him (or Linux).

I understand that Linus got more fame and money than Mr. Stallman. (Like you, Richard, he was not seeking fame, and, as far as I know, not particularly seeking large sums of money.) A lot of the time, pragmatism wins over idealism. Beliefs + action beat strongly held beliefs + singing protest songs: It’s reality.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that RMS has insisted that the full OS be called GNU/Linux: that way, folks can understand that the Shellshock bug–BASH security issues–have nothing to do with Linus and his kernel. Yes, let us give credit where credit is due: GNU created BASH and the bad code predates the first release of Linux. Another RMS first!

Sure, it’s cool–in a terrifyingly nerdy way–that RMS can surf the web using GNU Emacs, by e-mailing the page to himself.

Oh, did I mention Emacs? Let’s see . . . that reminds me of something. Has anyone else read Clifford Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg? It seems a security hole in Emacs helped a spy from Germany invade many US computer systems.

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the phrase, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”  Perhaps RMS believes this is true in the world of computers. I tend to think that “computer operators who surrender security for freedom will not have privacy, or any money left in their bank account.”

I have the right to choose! If I choose to run closed-source, proprietary software on my Linux machine: that’s my choice! I wonder if Mr.. Stallman realizes that by attempting to coerce me into using only software that is free by his definition he is imposing on my rights?!? Just like a gun or a knife, software is a utensil; a tool. When I use a knife to slice bread, it is not an offensive weapon. These items only exists: they are not inherently good or evil: the good and evil attributes are created by human actions.

Apparently, Richard Stallman announced the development of a free kernel in 1986 (about the time Shellshock crept into BASH). Now, 28 years later, there is no stable HURD. So, curb your anger, Sir. Accept what is and move on! If you need something to focus on, in addition to getting a stable kernel working, take a look at the security of the GNU software of which you are so proud.

I’ll stop here, before I write a lousy RMS protest song.

Happy Slacking!

P.S. Ouch!

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