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Re: Prefer Mercurial instead of git

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Prefer Mercurial instead of git
Date: Sun, 05 Jan 2014 14:56:24 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3.50 (gnu/linux)

"Stephen J. Turnbull" <address@hidden> writes:

> Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso writes:
>  > I don't think Stephen's a particular expert in this
> I don't either.  But since I'm not an expert, why listen to me?
> Listen to Barry Warsaw and Karl Fogel, who invited me to coauthor,
> instead:
> http://www.python.org/doc/peps/pep-0374/
> http://www.emacswiki.org/BzrForEmacsDevs
> And to get David K to recommend me given how often we've been at each
> others' throats

Locking horns.  Different thing.

> over the decades is a pretty good trick, one I'm proud of.


> Nevertheless, as ESR and DAK have been at pains to point out, the
> problem with Mercurial, like the problem with Bazaar, isn't technical.
> The problem is that Mercurial isn't git.  Git definitely is the leader
> now.  Git is "cool".  Git is more flexible (neither Mercurial nor
> Bazaar can support workflows that use colocated branches heavily).
> Git has more growth potential: new techniques for manipulating DAGs
> are developed in and for git.  (They can't be developed *in* Mercurial
> or Bazaar command language, you have to go to Python level to develop
> useful new features.)  Mercurial's supporting applications don't seem
> to improve as quickly (at least, not those distributed with Mercurial,
> cf. gitk vs. hg view).  So git is clearly winning the popularity
> contest, both in general and on emacs-devel.

There is actually another problem here: with regard to Software Freedom,
Git is in the "good enough" category.  People are comfortable using it.
And that's something which, in the big order of things, we should
consider as a win.  However, services like Github try locking people
into their proprietary services.  And are succeeding.  The software
Github runs on is proprietary, and the usage conditions are pretty
onerous.  Yes, one can pull repositories from them, but the entire other
workflow they offer to users is locked down.

Of course, it is the Facebook effect at work again: if you build a
_business_ model around gratis services, your product is not the
service, but the users.

The tool Git itself does not care what it is used for, and Git upstream
is also not overly interested as long as the conditions on Git itself
are kept.

The Git universe is unlike the Windows universe: it does not strongly
prefer proprietary thinking and workflows.

And yet we do try to bring the value of freedom also to Windows users,
like when providing Emacs.

I think there is more at stake by turning the back on Git.  It is too
important as a free tool to let the proprietary vendors determine the
directions how "everybody" is going to use it, under their control, with
their ultimate weapon: convenience.

If we don't offer answers of our own, we forfeit the game.  There are
games which are loaded against us anyway, where there is little point in
playing to lose.  But this one's right at our door.

David Kastrup

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