I speak of Richard Stallman, progenitor of the free software movement and creator of GNU (as in GNU/Linux, the most widely deployed operating system in the world, and GNU bash, the tool that has caused so much shellshock lately). He's a hero to me, and anyone that honestly evaluates the landscape of computing's history would conclude that there's few whose contributions may equal his in importance. I place only Ken, Ritchie, and Turing by his side. It is shameful that anyone need to write an essay telling people to stop bashing this man who has worked for free to provide us with some of the greatest software ever written, but I see a number of people who I normally respect defaming the man. Beyond that, irresponsible publications such as the Guardian take the chance to talk shit on Stallman and spew some anti-free software garbage. Over the past few years hating Stallman has become somewhat trendy among the Silicon Valley crowd, and every HN thread involving Stallman spews childish insults about him.
I have, for years, used bash as a central tool in my kit. I have written bash one-liners to spam millions of people with subversive messages and shift the market cap of publicly traded companies by the billions in intraday trading. Like many other GNU tools offered to us at no cost by the Free Software Foundation, I use it frequently to wonderful effect. It is more often than not the first tool I consider when confronted with a problem. It is seriously that useful.
Shellshock is not a critical failure in bash. It is a critical failure in thousands of people who knew a tool so useful that they decided to deploy it far beyond its scope. A tool so resilient that it it did not fall over when everyone deployed against best practices. Everyone knew in the nineties that when you execute a UNIX command with untrusted input, you clear away the environment variables first. Anyone that has untrusted input embedded within a shell script does not know what they are doing. The fact that there is a way to get bash to execute untrusted code is unsurprising. The thing that surprises me is the sheer number of developers who thought it would be otherwise in complete contrast to UNIX parables and common sense.
The real story here, if there is one beyond a piece of software having bugs like all software does, is the Sisyphean responsibility that was placed on one man's shoulders. The world took and took from Richard Stallman thanklessly. All the financiers and tech moguls that made hundreds of billions of dollars off of his work never once wrote him a single check to help him maintain the software their fortunes relied on. After decades of thankless service, a mob of people finally turn upon him like the jackals they are, deriding him as incompetent for a small series of bugs. Richard Stallman accomplished more than any paid developer. They also deride him as a senile fool for his eccentricities. He's always been eccentric. I've talked with him rather recently and guarantee he can code any of his pitiful critics under the fucking table. The world should have given the GNU project some money to hire developers and security auditors. Hell, it should have given Stallman a place to sleep that isn't a couch at a university. There is no fucking justice in this world.
This is a bit of theatre that has played out over and over again. Large and critical pieces of code are heavily relied on, and nobody wants to support them. OpenSSL anyone? Just as print and broadcast technologies were stolen from the people that invented them, the Internet is being hijacked by a bunch of sniveling international bankers that profit off of the effort of those before them. The brave and brilliant men and women who laboured for the Internet's creation will never see a dime for themselves or their offspring. Parasites having the nerve to insult and deride those they leeched from infuriates me.
I, unlike some people, haven't made billions from Stallman's work. That doesn't mean I won't remember what he's done, and what he continues to do for general computation and the Internet. Not a single day goes by that I will not be thankful for his work. You people are pieces of shit. I am disgusted, and you can pry my Emacs from my cold, dead NANDs.