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Re: Status of my GTK efforts.

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: Re: Status of my GTK efforts.
Date: Thu, 27 Dec 2001 10:42:51 -0700 (MST)

    You say "GTK is the recommend GUI toolkit for GNU programs".  Is this
    recommended or forced?

It is very strongly recommended--there would need to be a very strong
reason to justify using any other toolkit as the basis for a new GNU
package today.

            What if QT eventually becomes clearly superior to GTK?

It is exceedingly unlikely that Qt will become so thoroughly superior
that we would want to drop GTK in favor of Qt.  In fact, the
limitation of Qt to C++ is a grave technical drawback, which could
hardly be overcome by any other practical advantages.

One of the reasons we make a strong recommendation for using GTK is so
that more people will use GTK, which will tend to mean more
development of GTK, and thus it will be superior to Qt rather than
inferior.  This is a matter of loyalty to another GNU package.

      In my mind, once software is Free Software
    (especially GPL), then we should be free to make the best technical 

In the GNU Project, we do not always make "the best technical
decision", because we have goals that go beyond technical progress.

The overall purpose of the GNU Project is social and political: to
spread freedom and community for software users.  Technical aspects
are secondary to that.  Therefore, from time to time we make a
technical decision based on social and political consequences which
outweigh the technical consequences.  Don't be surprised when you see

The idea that engineers should consider only technical reasons in
their decisions is not just mistaken--it is the exact opposite of what
a socially responsible engineer does.  I am shocked to see an engineer
advocating the rejection of social responsibility.  It is like Werner
von Braun in the song: "I send rockets up, but where they come down is
not my department, says Werner von Braun."  Please be aware that in
the GNU Project we decided long ago not to look at things that way.

In most technical decisions there are no overriding social and
political factors, so we do try to make the "best technical decision".
But recall that GNU Emacs and GTK are part of one larger project: the
GNU Project.  This means that the "best technical decision" is not
necessary the one that makes GNU Emacs best or the one that makes GTK
best.  It is the one that makes GNU best.

Therefore, the developers of one GNU package should assist, cooperate
with, and give support to another GNU package whenever the situation
calls for it.  The most basic kind of support to give another GNU
package is to *use* it, when you need to do the job that it does.
That is why I want Emacs to use GTK: to give support to another GNU
package, and make the combination of Emacs and GNOME fit together

Most of the time, improving GNU Emacs is not likely to affect GTK or
any other part of GNU.  Therefore, most of the time, we can make the
"best technical decision" for GNU Emacs without the need to consider
the other packages.  But do keep in mind that this is just a common
simple case of a more complicated criterion.  When it is pointed out
that a particular decision does affect other packages, please start
considering that effect.

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