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Re: Release plans

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: Release plans
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 14:38:24 +0900

Alan Mackenzie writes:
 > Hi, Stephen,
 > On Tue, Aug 26, 2008 at 01:54:15PM +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
 > > Alan Mackenzie writes:
 > >  > Yes, we want software to be free, but no, we don't want people to
 > >  > use this freedom in certain ways, ways which would inhibit the
 > >  > progress of free software.
 > > I'm not sure I agree with this formulation, but it's not what I'm
 > > talking about in this thread.
 > I think it is.  I think it's the abstract principle behind RMS's decision
 > not to put a binary module loader in Emacs.

Please don't tell me what I'm talking about.  Let me clarify: I don't
mean to disagree that it's the abstract principle behind the decision,
so it's not what I'm talking about.

 > If you don't like my formulation, how about reformulating it your own
 > way?

It's a different thread, and not relevant to Emacs at all, since I
don't contest your assertion that it is (part of) the basis for

 > > Effectively discouraging non-free software is out of our control.
 > > "Mr. Quixote, meet Mr. Windmill...."
 > It is not.  There are few non-free extensions to Emacs, at least that I
 > have heard of.

There are about a dozen of them that I've heard of (not illegal
because they are extensions to XEmacs used only internally to
corporations, the largest of which has about 500 users of the
corporate XEmacs), and there may be a few more when XEmacs converts to
GPLv3 (because some currently free extensions contain GPLv2-only code,
it will no longer be legal to distribute them).

 > With a binary module loader, there might well be more.

With a binary module loader, we might be able to develop them faster
and head off the proprietary versions---there might well be less.

 > >  > I gladly accept the freedom guaranteed by professional soldiers.
 > >  > Just as those soldiers protect those "who don't give a damn", I feel
 > >  > we should protect the (software) freedom of those who, for whatever
 > >  > reason, wouldn't protect their own.
 > > At the cost of the freedom of those who would *like* to use unfree
 > > software: they have done the calculation on the costs of lock-in, and
 > > like the answers they got.
 > Yes, this is down in the irony and contradictions department of free
 > software.  But as you've noted, the lock-in is largely
 > psychological:

Who's ignoring 6 billion people now?  Nothing in the GPL creates
lock-in, no, but 99.9999% of humanity doesn't have the skills!  So
they are locked in unless the market provides for them.

IMO, the free software distribution model offers very little to those
people in the way of hope that their needs will be met.  Jury's still
out, but I don't know any office-type users who prefer a working
Ubuntu to a working Windows.  Windows has more of the apps they want.
Some still choose the reliability etc of a GNU/Linux distro, but
they're painfully aware of being behind the curve in most application

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