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Re: Changing the default for `send-mail-function'

From: Tim Cross
Subject: Re: Changing the default for `send-mail-function'
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2011 11:06:42 +1000

On Thu, Jul 7, 2011 at 10:34 AM, Richard Stallman <address@hidden> wrote:
>      I wouldn't be surprised if the gnu.org
>    login servers were in the top 100 by usage of such machines in the
>    world.
> If it is useful for the FSF, it is probably useful for many other
> organizations.
> You consider this kind of system a "niche legacy", so you will tend
> not to notice them, but that doesn't mean they are few in number.
> Each one has many users, and its sysadmins may not be Emacs users.
> --
> Dr Richard Stallman
> President, Free Software Foundation
> 51 Franklin St
> Boston MA 02110
> www.fsf.org  www.gnu.org
> Skype: No way! That's nonfree (freedom-denying) software.
>  Use free telephony http://directory.fsf.org/category/tel/

I'm not sure the multi-user issue is worth considering. Every
multi-user system I've ever seen has a working local MTA and I suspect
it is reasonable to assume this is the normal situation for multi-user
platforms due to the nature of the platform and the fact such systems
tend to make more extensive use of mail for monitoring and
administration purposes etc.  To what extent they represent a 'niche'
or edge-case etc is largely irrelevant to the question of changing the
default for the send-mail-function.

The whole question still seems to come down to two opposing opinions -
on one side, we have those who believe that the MAJORITY of local MTA
configurations are broken and therefore, we should move to a default
of smtpmail, plus those who feel this is the more modern approach
adopted by most other mail clients and one that tends to fit better
with a model of computing that focuses on mobility and connectivity
from multiple networks (with different firewalls, smtp servers and
authentication requirements etc)  versus an alternative perspective
who question this assumption and who are concerned that many people
who currently don't have to worry about issues associated with
configuring email will now be forced to and in some cases, this could
be difficult as such information may not be readily available - at the
very least, it is a change which could force people to do additional
tasks requiring additional information which they previously did not
have to do.

Changing default settings is something that needs to be supported by
evidence and not just opinion. So far, there does not seem to be any
evidence to justify the change, only opinions. I have not observed an
increase in bugs relating to mail configuration or requests for help
to configure mail or frustration regarding the current default.
Perhaps it is too difficult to acquire the necessary evidence?

I do think the mobile computing issue is possibly the most compelling
of the arguments. However, I'm  not sure what percentage of emacs
users are on GNU/Linux laptops and as I understand the proposal, the
default for Windows is going to stay with the mailclient version
(don't know about OSX). but I believe few OSX installations use a
local MTA anyway.

At any rate, without some facts, I doubt this can be resolved. We
really need to know some numbers. What is the percentage of emacs
users on GNU/Linux and how many are running on laptops? If the current
default needs change, why are we not seeing an increase in bug reports
or requests for help or complaints regarding the existing default?


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