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Re: AW: Fwd: CEDET sync

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: AW: Fwd: CEDET sync
Date: Wed, 03 Mar 2010 02:20:43 +0900

David Kastrup writes:

 > > Not to mention massive internal obstacles to benefitting from
 > > work done by anybody who doesn't actively pledge allegiance to
 > > Emacs. :-(
 > A copyright assignment is not written out to Emacs, and it is not a
 > pledge of allegiance, most certainly not to Emacs.

The point is that unless people make a point of making code available
to Emacs by signing a copyright assignment, it won't get in.  This
applies not just to XEmacs code, but to AUCTeX (as you know better
than anyone), and to many GNU projects as well.  I wonder how many
thousands of .emacs are out there containing valuable code that will
never be part of Emacs?

 > It may at times be a nuisance for GNU subprojects, but it certainly has
 > helped in completing the GNU software landscape from isolated programs
 > to completely free systems.

That project was basically finished 15 years ago.  The real threats to
the GNU system today are (a) patents and (b) lags vs. commercial
systems built on free software, even if they are not completely free
software.  Neither of those can be helped by frictions like resisting
a package system for 15 years or DLLs for 15 years plus the
foreseeable future, because somebody careless *might* be misled into
thinking that a feature loaded into Emacs was therefore free, when it
might not be.

 > The GNU project has been shaped and motivated by political
 > decisions for the sake of creating a workground compatible with a
 > certain set of morals and views.

That's only part of it.  It has also been heavily motivated by the
desire to ostracize those with different beliefs, even if they are
compatible with freedom.  Specifically, the BSDs have shown that it is
possible to maintain freedom of the whole for those who want it with
important parts of the system (eg, the OS kernel) licensed under less
restrictive conditions.

It is an open question whether this could be done without a copyleft
core; it has never been tried, really (the BSDs started out without,
but later made the intelligent decision to adopt a mixed copyleft/
permissive system with GCC and GNU binutils as the core development
tools, and today the main desktop suites are also copyleft; of course
Emacs is available if not the weapon of choice for true-blue BSDers).

Similarly, I have to wonder if Emacs could not benefit from a similar
(but more conservative in important ways) strategy by allowing DLLs
and relying on legal prosecution to exclude proprietary DLLs.

 > I am quite annoyed by some decisions and their effects at times.  Sure.
 > But I am not so stupid not to see what long-term effects they have made
 > possible in the past ultimately.

The question is not "did it work well in the past?"  The question is,
"in the future, do we want to attract the unbelievers to freedom, or
do we want to just sit around and congratulate ourselves on our own

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