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Re: [Accessibility] Call to Arms

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: Re: [Accessibility] Call to Arms
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2010 22:52:39 -0400

    > * We never had a policy of developing "tools" first, and that's not
    > what happened.  We developed all sorts of system components in the
    > 1980s, including a chess game, a PDF interpreter, and a spreadsheet.

    I understand but from most developer perspectives, the toolchain was first 

The perceptions of many people may be as you say, but I'm telling you
what we actually did.

I'm glad you appreciated Emacs on VMS, but support for nonfree systems
was always a side issue for us.

    -- but people COULD have written other GNU components
    > with vi and debugged them with dbx.

    But they didn't, or at least in my world they didn't.

A number of GNU packages (not all tools) were written in the 80s
before GCC was ready for people to use.  Whether some GNU contributors
continued to develop using other compilers after 1989 or so, I don't

                                                           There was incredible 
    loyalty to the new toolchain and any move by management in a half a dozen 
    companies to replace it with something commercial kicked up a hell of a 
s*it storm.

This loyalty to certain parts of the GNU system probably helped us a
lot, but it is was also the start of a partial misunderstanding.  GNU
isn't a toolchain.  It was never a toolchain.  These tools were just
part of GNU, and still are.

Contrasting "free software" with "commercial" is also a misunderstanding.

    > * Making GNU programs run on many platforms was never a high priority
    > goal.  The main purpose of GNU packages is to be parts of the GNU
    > system.  However, users ported some GNU packages to many platforms,
    > and we accepted their changes in a spirit of cooperation.

    But again, the needs of the programmer outweighed the needs of the GNU.

With all due respect, it isn't for you to say.

I am the one who integrated contributions such as the ones that ported
Emacs to VMS.  I decided to do it.  So if you want to know the real
reason I did it, you should listen.

I decided to do this because I figured it would not be a lot of work
_for me_, and therefore there was little reason for me to refuse.  It
was a detour for the goal of making a free GNU system, but I expected
it would not a big detour, so I might as well go along with the VMS
users who wanted to run Emacs.

I would not have taken a big detour for this, because "helping users"
was not the priority.

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