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Re: Release plans

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: Release plans
Date: Sun, 17 Aug 2008 07:31:24 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.9i

Hi, Stephen!

On Sun, Aug 17, 2008 at 07:43:03AM +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> Alan Mackenzie writes:
>  > My opinion on allowing binary libraries into Emacs is that its
>  > dangers would be greater than the benefits it would allow.  I'm
>  > willing to be persuaded I'm mistaken.

>  > You should address this, instead of evading it as you have done up
>  > to now.
> No, those of you who *assert without a shred of evidence* that there
> are significant dangers should address that lack.

That's a category error.  I wasn't talking about a scientific process
for which evidence can be weighed up.  I am rather asserting the
credible existence of a mechanism by which Emacs could become
essentially un-free.  The exercise of freedom of choice by the gormless
masses is an essential component of that mechanism.  Nasty deviousness.

Richard is a master of nasty deviousness, so the fact that he sees a
problem is reason in itself to take it seriously.  ;-)

The essential point is that if an un-free Emacs became established
through the mechanism of loading binary libraries, we could not easily
reverse it.

> XEmacs, as well as many GNU applications, allow loadable modules.
> SXEmacs takes it a step further: it provides a generic foreign
> function interface.  So if there's a danger, you should be able to
> quote us the products we can buy at Circuit City or download from
> www.DownWithFreedom.com.

No.  The fact that nothing has yet happened is not by itself evidence of
lack of danger.

I think you said recently that there's an obscure patch around which
allows binaries to be loaded into XEmacs (and maybe Emacs), rather than
the facility being built in to the official XEmacs.  (Forgive me if I've
misremembered here.)  That's very different from something being a core
feature, encouraged by the prime maintainers.

> Where's the beef, for heaven's sake?

I don't accept that that, by itself, is a valid way to proceed.  We need
to forsee and analyse things which haven't happened but could happen.

To emphasise, I'm not convinced that allowing binaries to be loaded into
Emacs would cause danger.  I'm not convinced it's safe, either.  But I
am convinced the move would be irreversible.

Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).

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