Free software and GNU Linux icon Richard Stallman was taken ill at a weekend conference in Spain, reportedly being taken to hospital suffering from the symptoms of high blood pressure.
Early rumours on social media that the fifty-nine year old free software champion had suffered a heart attack have, thankfully, turned out to be incorrect.
Stallman was reported to have been half way through a talk to students at the Polytechnic University of Cataluna in Barcelona when he requested a doctor.
When an ambulance took a while arrive, Stallman is said to have quipped with characteristic humour “Here's the truth, Rajoy [Spanish President Mariano Rajoy] wants to kill us all."
The presentation was suspended and Stallman was taken to hospital as a precaution, apparently under his own steam. “He was in the hospital but has been discharged,” read a brief statement on the Free Software Foundation website.
Stallman is not a man who suffers fools (or journalists) as any writer naïve enough to momentarily confuse his movement for ‘free software’ with ‘open source’ will attest.
He famously fights his battles for the semantic and intellectual heartland in front of his word processor and usually wins.
His views on the politics of technology – the subject of his Barcelona speech – are legendary for a forthrightness that might be dismissed as merely eccentric coming from a lesser figure.
In March 2011 he likened mobile phones (he doesn’t own one) to being a “tool of Big Brother,” and “Stalin’s dream.” He was also famously qualified in his comments over the death of former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs. "I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone."