[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Emacs learning curve

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: Emacs learning curve
Date: Fri, 06 Aug 2010 11:48:50 +0900

Barry Fishman writes:

 > Why is learning something different a bad thing?

Learning something different is not a bad thing.  Learning something
different *unnecessarily* sucks, though.  It sucks for the individual,
it sucks for society, and it sucks for free software.

You give an excellent example:

 > One of the benefits of Emacs was that on the occasions I needed to
 > move from my usual Unix-like systems to Windows, I was able to
 > install and run Emacs and get my mail, editing, and printing setups
 > working.  [...]  If it is only a short term task under the new OS,
 > much of that (mis-)learning can be avoided.

This works in reverse for people migrating from Windows to *nix or
performing short-term tasks in *nix.  Since encouraging people to move
away from proprietary systems like Windows is a goal (*the* goal?) of
the GNU Project, Emacs *should* *consider* whether specific measures
claimed to make it easier for people to make the move are worthwhile.

Personally, for changing the keymap I think the answer is "no" (for
the reasons you give among others, specifically Windows-a-like GNOME
programs are a dime a dozen -- and even so overpriced), but it's *not*
a no-brainer (except for people who are stuck on "no" because they
have no brain).  It's something that deserves a bit of rethinking
every once in a while.  Mostly for the effect it will have of focusing
attention on alternative ways to encourage migration to free software
via Emacs.

 > Shouldn't the free software efforts be focused on making computers
 > a more worthwhile and enriching environment than in making
 > proprietary environments cheaper?

That's two spellings for the same thing, you know.  The cost of
proprietary environments to users is mostly not pecuniary.[1][2]  It's
that they suck, both on their own terms (but so does free software,
otherwise we wouldn't need "emacs-devel" ;-), but more importantly, on
the terms that *we* want to use software -- it does what we want, not
vice versa, and mostly the only way to get software to do what we want
is to write it ourselves.

[1]  There is a *social* cost of the Microsoft tax, for example, but
for most users it's cheaper to buy a Windows box and reformat the HDD
than it is to get a GNU system preinstalled (and forget about getting
a GNU system from a vendor unless you ask for "Linux"; if you ask for
"GNU/Linux", they'll say "never heard of that one, we offer Ubuntu and
Red Hat Linux"!)  Dell France apparently is currently quoting a price
of 461 euros to give you the same box but with Ubuntu on it instead of
Windows!  Dell Japan, when pressed, will tell you that their own
website is wrong, they don't actually offer pre-installed Linux[sic]
any more.  Windows is free-beer free for most users.

Similarly, if you like Apple hardware, good luck getting a box without
Mac OS X on it.

[2]  Proprietary applications can be horribly expensive, of course.

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]