OpenBSD's De Raadt sings Stallman blues
The OpenBSD team traditionally makes available a new song with each new release of its software. The songs, though often of dubious lyrical quality, typically embody the current thinking of the development team, in particular that of team leader Theo de Raadt. In the past the songs have railed against proprietary software developers and corporates and the challenges they throw in the way of free software. This time, however, the target is the Free Software Foundation’s Richard Stallman.
Late last year a very public fight broke out between Stallman, a man known for his unbending opinions and Theo de Raadt, and equally opinionated free software advocate. The spat follows an email by Stallman to an OpenBSD mailing list in which he accuses OpenBSD of including non-free software in its distribution: “The fact that OpenBSD is not a variant of GNU is not ethically important. If OpenBSD did not suggest non-free programs, I would recommend it along with the free GNU/Linux distros.”
Richard, you are wrong. You said very clearly in your interview that
the ports tree contains non-free software. It does not. It is just a
scaffold of Makefiles containing URLs, and an occasional patch here or
You are just plain wrong. And you are not enough of a man to admit
that you are wrong.
I may be unfriendly at times, but you are a power-misusing
hypocritical liar who attacks projects that try harder than any
others to only make free software available.
Shame on you.
And today, as OpenBSD releases 4.3 of its distribution, De Raadt has also released a new theme tune titled Home of Hypocrisy in which the OpenBSD team characterises Stallman as trying to control the flow of free software. In the song, the Stallmanesque character says there are two rules: Rule one is that no-one can give away their software. Rule two is that “you must give it to me, so I can give it away properly for free”.
More telling is the description of the song in which De Raadt calls Stallman a “false leader”. He goes on to say: “[Stallman] prefers actions which he thinks are best for him — and him alone — and then lies to the public.”
Ironically De Raadt and Stallman are two of the primary leaders in the free software movement and have both dedicated themselves to advancing the values of free software. Indeed, De Raadt was the recipient of the FSF’s 2005 award for his contribution to free software.
Neither De Raadt nor Stallman is likely to back down quietly in this battle so look out for future missives on the topic.