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Re: Release plans

From: Tassilo Horn
Subject: Re: Release plans
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2008 15:42:13 +0200
User-agent: KMail/1.10.0 (Linux/2.6.26-gentoo-r1; KDE/4.1.62; x86_64; ; )

On Tuesday 19 August 2008 14:21:01 Richard M. Stallman wrote:


>     Yes, indeed, but its also trivial to patch Emacs to run non-free
>     extensions today.
> It is not trivial for most people.

But it's trivial for everybody who is capable of writing such a non-free
module.  So let's say I want to distribute a non-free module (just an
example, I'm on the good side!).  In order to do that right now, I'd do
the following steps.

1. I fork emacs and put some dynamic module loading facility in it, and
   release the whole thing under GPLv3.  Because the patch already
   exists, that's not much work.

2. I provide my non-free module for my fork.

Now let's say emacs had a module loading facility, and each module would
have to register itself as being free in order to allow its loading.  If
I wanted to create a non-free module then, I had two possibilities.

- Falsely register my module as free and FSF and me will meet at court.
  (Is there a danger that a court will decide it's legal to register a
  module as free if it's not?)

- Fork emacs like above and put the registration code out.

So basically I can always provide non-free modules if I fork emacs.  The
costs for that are very low, no matter if emacs has or has no module
loading facility.

So let's now assume I want to provide a free module.  Currently (without
the module loader) I'd have to fork emacs, too.  But I'm a member of the
free software community, so I don't want to do that.  As a result I'll
try to work around the limitations with some ugly hacks like a command
line interface for the library I want to use.

So to summarize: For someone who wants to create a non-free module, the
costs are the same, no matter if emacs has or has no dynamic module
loading support.  For someone who wants to create a free module, the
availability of this feature in GNU Emacs is crucial.

The only danger I can see is that a module loader plus some nice, free
modules would push emacs reputation that high and create such an hype
that industry rediscoveres it as platform for their products.  Honestly,
before that happens the moon becomes a square! ;-)

And at last I want to point out some features SXEmacs has (which has a
full blown foreign function interface) which could be very useful.

  * Use emacs as X11 window manager (talk directly to XLib or xcb).

  * It supports all image formats the free ImageMagick library supports.

  * It has enhanced numbed types by binding to some free math library.

  * It has some direct bindings to various databases.

  * It downloads files by directly using libcurl.


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