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Re: Release plans

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: Release plans
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 21:06:19 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.9i

Hi, Stephen,

On Wed, Aug 27, 2008 at 02:38:24PM +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> Alan Mackenzie writes:

>  > >  > Yes, we want software to be free, but no, we don't want people
>  > >  > to use this freedom in certain ways, ways which would inhibit
>  > >  > the progress of free software.

>  > > I'm not sure I agree with this formulation, but it's not what I'm
>  > > talking about in this thread.

>  > I think it is.  I think it's the abstract principle behind RMS's decision
>  > not to put a binary module loader in Emacs.

> Please don't tell me what I'm talking about.

Hey, I'm allowed to think, amn't I?  :-)

> Let me clarify: I don't mean to disagree that it's the abstract
> principle behind the decision, so it's not what I'm talking about.

>  > If you don't like my formulation, how about reformulating it your own
>  > way?

> It's a different thread, and not relevant to Emacs at all, since I
> don't contest your assertion that it is (part of) the basis for
> decision.

OK, thanks.

> There are about a dozen of them [non-free Emacs extensions] that I've
> heard of (not illegal because they are extensions to XEmacs used only
> internally to corporations, the largest of which has about 500 users of
> the corporate XEmacs), and there may be a few more when XEmacs converts
> to GPLv3 (because some currently free extensions contain GPLv2-only
> code, it will no longer be legal to distribute them).

"When" XEmacs -> GPL3?  I take it you've settled this, then.  By the way,
is there any way in the XEmacs website to get the history of individual
source files?  I couldn't find any when I looked today.

>  > With a binary module loader, there might well be more [non-free
>  > extensions to Emacs].

> With a binary module loader, we might be able to develop them faster
> and head off the proprietary versions---there might well be less.

Possibly.  But there's no way to test this safely.  It's got to be judged
by insight and guesswork.

[ .... ]

> Who's ignoring 6 billion people now?  Nothing in the GPL creates
> lock-in, no, but 99.9999% of humanity doesn't have the skills!  So
> they are locked in unless the market provides for them.

Look, Stephen, I've probably given you the impression over my last few
posts that I was merely winding you up, trolling you.  If so, I'm sorry
about that; everything I've written was sincerely meant.

However, I can't myself guarantee to be consistent in these essentially
contradictory things.  In fact, I'm as confused about them as most
people here, and that has probably shown.

Whom I take issue with is the people here who've insisted that the
immediate practical benefits of a dynamic loader are the only issues to
consider.  I don't feel qualified to judge the pros and cons of this
feature, but I do feel I'm ahead of those who don't even see there's
anything to judge.  No, not you!

And I take very grave exception to those who cast snide and unfounded
aspersions of evasiveness and deceit on the people who've put the work
in.  This isn't you either, but they know who they are.

> IMO, the free software distribution model offers very little to those
> people in the way of hope that their needs will be met.  Jury's still
> out, but I don't know any office-type users who prefer a working Ubuntu
> to a working Windows.  Windows has more of the apps they want.  Some
> still choose the reliability etc of a GNU/Linux distro, but they're
> painfully aware of being behind the curve in most application areas.

Yes.  Sadly.  At the moment.

Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).

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