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Re: clang and FSF's strategy

From: Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso
Subject: Re: clang and FSF's strategy
Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 09:33:04 -0500

On Tue, 2014-01-21 at 15:19 -0500, Eric S. Raymond wrote:
> Therefore, I point out that FSF can no longer prevent proprietary
> vendors from plugging into a free compiler to improve their tools.
> I also think it bears noticing that nobody outside of Microsoft seems
> to particularly want to write proprietary compilers any more. 

The FSF sure can prevent it, and proprietary compilers still thrive.
Here is one that particularly bugs me as an Octave developer: we
routinely see people being lured to use Nvidia's non-free nvcc for GPU
computing, which they gleefully admit is based on clang and LLVM. And
there is Xcode, of course, completely non-free and completely based on
clang and LLVM.

The fact that these non-free tools are not based on gcc are a
testament to how proprietary software developers cannot plug into gcc,
and how clang is fostering non-free software.

The nvidia situation is particularly dire becuase today, free GPU
computing is almost nonexistent. It's almost all based on CUDA and
nvidia's massive pro-CUDA marketing campaign. Even most OpenCL
implementations are non-free, and the scant few free implementations
of OpenCL that exist are not fully functional.

We also have technical reasons in Octave to not use LLVM, even though
we are using it right now: its API is hugely unstable. Each new LLVM
release has needed its own new, complicated autoconf checks. We have
been chatting with Red Hat's David Malcolm who works on libgccjit to
help us get something better and more stable. This thus proves that it
is not impossible to use gcc for the same tasks as LLVM, and its
pluggability is growing.

- Jordi G. H.

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