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Re: Release plans

From: Thomas Lord
Subject: Re: Release plans
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2008 10:09:25 -0700
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20060808)

Richard M. Stallman wrote:
    If the free and non-free software worlds are regarded as
    opposing armies, the GNU army's choice is to either inflict a
    loss on both sides (no dynamic loader -- the defeatist strategy)
    or afford both sides a possible win (possible free and non-free

A win for non-free software is ipso facto a loss for our campaign to
eliminate non-free software.  When the non-free software in question
is an add-on for a free program, it tends to pervert the liberating
nature and message of that free program; that is another kind of loss
for us.  These are the potential kinds of harm that I am concerned to

Our community develops lots of free software, but which software it
develops is a matter of what many people are inspired to do.
We cannot count on the community to develop a free equivalent
of a nasty Emacs add-on in a short time, not if it is nontrivial.

I am willing to assume that if a dynamic loader is added
to Emacs that non-free add-ons will follow.  I'll allow that,
yes, that will diminish the "liberating nature and message"
of GNU Emacs regarded as an isolated program.

Nevertheless, there is a bigger fish to fry:

GNU Emacs is not an isolated program.  There are many
free software programs and libraries and GNU Emacs exists
along side those.

If we concentrate on adding features that allow programs to
be flexibly combined, the resulting GNU system will be a
flexible, powerful environment.   Conversely, if we neglect,
ban, or poorly execute such interconnection features, the GNU
system will be be little more than a set of mutually isolated
programs -- either there's a program that does what you need
or there isn't -- there's no way easy way to build the program
you need because even if the parts exist there's no easy way to
fit them together.

A modular GNU system with good interconnects -- a set of
programs and libraries that can be recombined many ways --
would itself have a "liberating nature and message" and one
much more powerful than GNU Emacs taken in isolation.

In trying to protect GNU Emacs in isolation, you are
giving up on the goal of creating a more profound
piece of free software.


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