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Re: Futile bug reports?

From: Bill Richter
Subject: Re: Futile bug reports?
Date: 13 Aug 2001 21:03:30 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.0.104

>>>>> "RMS" == Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> writes:

  RMS> But since [Glickstein's proprietary Emacs book] is not free,
  RMS> please don't mention its existence to anyone.  The way to
  RMS> encourage free documentation is by showing that non-free
  RMS> documentation isn't good enough.

  RMS>     How can you show something "isn't good enough" if you don't
  RMS>     ever "mention its existence to anyone"?

  RMS> Because it isn't the *same* something.  Those two quotations
  RMS> refer to two different things.  Non-free documentation *in
  RMS> general* is not good enough; what we want to avoid mentioning
  RMS> are *specific* non-free manuals.

Thanks for clarifying.    I suppose you can see how your text above
could confuse people.

  RMS> If I were trying to show that a specific non-free manual was
  RMS> badly written, unclear, etc., I would have to talk about that
  RMS> manual.  But when I argue that non-free documentation is too
  RMS> restrictive for our community, that is a matter of general
  RMS> principles.  There is no need to name specific books.

Well, you mentioned Glickstein's proprietary Emacs book in your post.
My point is this:

It's obviously better for books to be free rather than proprietary.
That's your point, and I agree with you.

But it's possible that a specific non-free manual might have
advantages over the existing free manuals.  This could be for lots of
reasons---e.g. the stretched resources of the FSF.  

Maybe there's something for us to learn from non-free manuals.
Certainly there was something for us to learn from non-free Unix OSs.
I think Emacs and gcc and the whole GNU suite were largely developed
on non-free Unix OSs.  Now we have the free OS Linux-GNU to develop
free software on, which is great.  

I haven't myself been much impressed with the non-free manuals, but I
haven't studied them carefully either.  However, it seems to me that
Glickstein's book was the 1st version of refill.el.  

I would certainly discourage someone from buying a non-free Emacs book
say with the title "Teach yourself Emacs in 10 days!".  But I would
encourage them to buy non-free programming books like K&R's C book, or
SICP, and "How to Design Programs" by Felleisen et al.  And I would
point out that nobody, including the FSF, is trying to write free
programming books like the above.  My guess is that Glickstein's book
is more like "Teach yourself Emacs in 10 days!" than SICP, but who am
I to say?

So maybe my point is more that we ought to be trying to write free
"mind-altering" books like SICP, instead of just concentrating on
sober correct manuals.  Of course, the stretched resources of the FSF
is a primary barrier here...

Bill <http://www.math.nwu.edu/~richter>

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