WARNING: This entry is somewhat political in nature.
Given the recent controversies about the GPL v3 draft, I thought I’d give my insight on the Free Software Foundation and especially its founder, Richard M. Stallman, better known as RMS. I won’t cover the GPL v3 debate as I haven’t read the license draft, though I think that the kernel developers’ standing must be at least given attention.
The FSF has done a good job in creating free (as in freedom) tools from UNIX, and also for creating the GPL v2, a license that mostly reminds me of good, fruitful scientific work because it encourages sharing and improvement. I always recommend the GPL as the license of choice for academia-developed software. I like the license because it encourages competition, puts everyone on a level playing field where everyone can improve. That said, the political views of the FSF and RMS really are questionable.
RMS is an idealist, but his views in my opinion clash with reality, not to mention that his “no compromise” attitude is not always the best option. I can understand his desire to have free software for everyone, but every time someone does not behave in such a way, he’s extremely critic. He should understand as well that pluralism is actually a good thing. You can’t force people to make free software as much as you can’t force people to make proprietary software (I like the former better, but that’s my idea only). Instead, he is always on a rampage to promote his ideas through activism. Sometimes it seems only he has the right view on something, which is down right irritating.
I hate activism. When you have a democratically elected government, it’s a lot less useful than it may seem. Why always bypassing the people you have elected? What’s the role of the government then? And not only that, the FSF has been present at activities promoted by certain parties, notably the Green Party, because of their stance on software patents. Going with a party whose most incarnations show a total and complete ignorance of environment just because they support part of their cause is insane. Personally I am not represented by the Greens, nor I want to. The FSF should concentrate on the technical, and legal aspects of free software, and leave out the extreme left/anarchist ideals.
Last but not least, what can I think when RMS himself says that he wants to “liberate everyone in the cyberspace”? Has he been reading too much W.Gibson, perhaps?