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Re: Emacs vista build failures

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: Emacs vista build failures
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 08:07:28 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.9i

Hi, Richard!

On Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 12:56:12PM -0400, Richard M Stallman wrote:
>     IF making free programs working on windows helps promote GNU/Linux
>     (or Herd) is not that good?

> Yes, but we can't assume in general that that is the case.  For a few
> programs, such as OpenOffice and Firefox, the fact that they run on
> Windows seems to be a signficant aid to migration to GNU/Linux.  But I
> don't see that this is true for other free programs.

This is rather fundamental:  Why do we write free software? My personal
motivation is to make the world a better place.  I think for you, by
contrast, the propagation of free software is an end in itself, so your
answers to the following questions might well be different from mine.

When I ask myself, is the world better for having Emacs and Firefox
running on Microsoft Windows, the answer is an unequivocal yes - people
who hack on MS-Windows can thus do a better job.  Therefore it is
worthwhile spending effort making Emacs work on this (and other
proprietary) systems.

Could the availability of free software on non-free OSs remove an
incentive for people to convert to completely free systems?  It could in
theory, but I don't think it does in practice.  In most of the places
I've worked, there's a massive network of MS-Windows PCs, and sometimes
there's a Unix network too.  Converting to GNU or BSD isn't an option in
these places.

Getting people to use Emacs is, though.  All of the people I've
introduced to Emacs have taken it up because I've shown them what it can
do and they've liked it.  This even includes a project manager, who liked
Hi Lock Mode.  None of them were bothered at all about it being free
software, beyond the welcome lack of licensing hassles.

The availability of free software on proprietary OSs might well cause the
newly enlightened to explore free software further and possibly to start
hacking it.  A lack of free software on these OSs most surely will not.

Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).

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