As if Richard Stallman's first pot shot at Steve Jobs didn't cause enough outrage, the founder of the Free Software Foundation has decided to clarify his stance – with some more criticism. Apple products digitally handcuff their users, Stallman observes. And the fact that they are pretty just makes it worse.
According to the bearded firebrand, the important thing to remember about Jobs is how he directed those who are still alive: the billionaire iPhone baron told Apple staff to "make general purpose computers with digital handcuffs more controlling and unjust than ever before".
"He designed them to refuse even to let users install their own choice of applications — and installing free (freedom-respecting) applications is entirely forbidden," wrote Stallman.
"He even tried to make it illegal to install software not approved by Apple."
In Stallman's opinion, Jobs' achievement of making his computers smooth and pleasurable only masked their true nature:
Jobs saw how to make these computers stylish and smooth. That would normally be positive, but not in this case, since it has the paradoxical effect of making their controlling nature seem acceptable.
And responsibility for one of technology's greatest challenges lies at Steve's feet: the ongoing patent wars, a situation that Stallman sees as a by-product of Jobs' rage towards Android.
Jobs also made it a personal crusade to attack Android with software patents. In practice, Android is not entirely free software, but it is a big step closer compared with the iPhone. If Apple's guns hit Android, they could wipe out all possibility of free software portable devices that are attractive to use. Jobs' final legacy may be the patent disaster we have warned about for 20 years.
Oh and all those journalists blabbering on about how great the iPhone is are just making everything worse, for everyone:
Jobs' death inspired a flood of articles lauding him for these very devices. That further increases their potential for harm, which is why now more than ever we must focus attention on it. We must not let secondary considerations about Apple or Jobs distract us from this threat until we have thwarted it.
We look forward to more. ®
Richard Stallman's speaking tour rider was revealed on a public mailing list over the weekend. It includes requests for tea, non-diet Pepsi, no association with "open source", parrots and much more.