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Re: [Reuben Thomas] browse-url.el Opera support

From: Reuben Thomas
Subject: Re: [Reuben Thomas] browse-url.el Opera support
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2004 15:12:04 +0100 (CET)

On Thu, 15 Jan 2004, Simon Josefsson wrote:

> Dave Love <address@hidden> writes:
> > [I removed the attachment of XEmacs code.]
> >
> > From: Reuben Thomas <address@hidden>
> > Subject: browse-url.el Opera support
> > To: address@hidden
> > Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2004 14:20:26 +0100 (CET)
> > Reply-To: Reuben Thomas <address@hidden>
> >
> > I'm an Opera user and recently switched from XEmacs to FSF Emacs. The
> > XEmacs version of browse-url.el (in the mail-lib package) has support
> > for Opera; I was wondering if it might be possible to fold that into
> > the FSF version?
> I recall a discussion about this earlier, when someone proposed a
> patch for Opera, and that someone didn't think Emacs should support
> non-free browsers like Opera.  The XEmacs folks didn't have that
> concern, though, so the patch was applied to that version of
> browse-url.el.
> If you think this decision should be reconsidered, for Emacs, I think
> it has to be discussed on address@hidden

I don't have the stomach for such a discussion right now. Having to argue
to get a patch that is acknowledged to be technically and legally fine
into a free software package against philosophical objections seems
rather contrary to much of the spirit of free software.

I supply bug reports and patches to free software projects all the time.
I'm quite happy to have them questioned on technical grounds; similarly,
if I find some code that would be useful in a free software project, it's
reasonable for the maintainers to enquire as to its provenance, especially
in a project like GNU where great pains are taken to ensure that the
software will always be legally free, by being owned by the FSF.

But this case is neither. It implies that the FSF not only wants me to use
free software, but is happy to use its considerable leverage (i.e. much of
the software I use is from the FSF) to bully me into doing so: use a free
web browser or we won't support you. As it happens, Opera is the one
non-free bit of software that I am aware of using regularly. I use it
because it works better for me than the alternatives. I wish it weren't
so; I find free software more satisfying on philosophical grounds, and in
general of higher quality and better supported than non-free software. But
a couple of years ago I didn't really see a better choice than Opera, and
I switched to it. I'm hoping that Mozilla Firebird, when it goes stable,
will replace Opera; I encourage other people to use Mozilla. But I don't
see what my (free!) choice of browser has to do with the authors of GNU

Funnily enough, I wouldn't even be involved in this discussion if it
weren't that browse-url.el sucks anyway: I can't remember another program
that I've had to throw several kb of script at before it can open URLs in
my web browser the way I want: in most programs, I just have to configure
a string that looks something like

foobrowser -remoteWindow("%u")

and it Just Works. This, of course, is an Emacs problem, not a GNU
problem, but it adds injury to insult [sic].

Oh well, better write me off as a deluded open-sourcer :-)



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