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Re: clang vs free software

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: clang vs free software
Date: Sun, 26 Jan 2014 15:45:27 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3.50 (gnu/linux)

Daniel Colascione <address@hidden> writes:

> On 01/25/2014 10:45 PM, David Kastrup wrote:
>> It has been explained to you what the rationale behind making GCC
>> unsuitable as a black box component of parsing solutions is: there is no
>> point in licensing GCC under the GPL if we pull the basic teeth the GPL
>> has by allowing integration into a larger whole without having to obey
>> the GPL.
>> An adequate reaction to that would be to see what technical
>> possibilities there are for making GCC support the use cases you have in
>> mind without throwing it wide open, rendering its licensing choice
>> useless.
>> Instead, you ignore the reasons you have been given and choose to throw
>> a tantrum.  This will not serve to achieve anything but leave everybody
>> more annoyed.
> The previous three paragraphs demonstrate succinctly why effort and
> attention have shifted away from GCC and toward LLVM.  The latter
> system provides utility and none of the sanctimony.

Quite like an Apple iPhone provides utility and none of the sanctimony.
The purpose of the GNU project is not to serve as many people as
possible at a given point of time but to ensure the continued
availability of Free Software to its users, those that care about it.

There will be people who don't care about it.  They may or may not use
Free Software for other reasons, and they are free to do so.  But the
principal target of Free Software are those who care about software
being and remaining free, not those who care foremost about convenience.

> It allows users to accomplish their goals instead of hearing
> complaints that their goals are politically incompatible with the
> software.

If you choose not to listen, you can at least refrain from
misrepresentation.  What happens here is that users are told that their
requirements are not easily met while ensuring at the same time that
work built based on this software will remain freely available for

If you refuse participating with the effort of reconciling your wishlist
with the goals of Free Software and think by just ignoring everything
said and stomping your feet and yelling "but I want it!", then you will
not be part of the effort of finding better solutions.

> In an equilibrium in which a permissively licensed compiler dominates,
> non-free software can simply appropriate from all components at will.

Which is exactly why the GNU project is not interested in supporting
LLVM-based solutions over that using GCC.

> At the present rate, though, you might as well just add, on top of the
> GCC README, "look at my influence, ye mighty, and despair!".

Take a hike, seriously.  I have no influence at all.  I do not represent
the GNU project in any form or capacity.  All that I am doing is trying
to save you some of the work you'd need to invest to understand the
issues involved so that you can meaningfully participate in a mature
solution finding process.

If you are not interested in doing that, the least you can do is refrain
from poisoning the atmosphere in mailing lists that are at best
marginally topical for your rants.

> Do you really need the difference spelled out for you? Previously,
> there was no free compiler of acceptable quality aside from
> GCC.

pcc has been available for decades, and all the commercial Unix variants
relied on it.  Get your history right.

> Previously, integration with external tools was less important. Now
> Clang and LLVM exist. The world is much different than it was during
> GCC's earlier existence.  GCC will never again pull off another coup
> like the release of the Objective-C compiler.

>>> How will the world be a better place when almost every every free
>>> operating system and free development environment is based on Clang
>>> and explicitly non-free derivatives are rampant?
>> Because there will still be a free software solution available without
>> the need to hope that everybody will be playing nice when extending it.
> Will there be? If your "solution" doesn't actually meet user needs,
> it's not a solution. Users won't put up with significantly impaired
> functionality for the sake of using copyleft software when libre
> software (likely with non-free but gratis extensions) exists that
> fulfills their needs.

Those users you are talking about are not, fortunately, dictating the
choices of the GNU project.  If they were, there would be no GCC, no
GNU, and not even the GPLed Linux kernel.

It is a visibility problem in a way that GNU and Free Software have
become popular for reasons other than what they have been created for
and that a large majority of users could care less about its original
mission and act up a storm whenever they find some of the basic choices
underlying GNU to affect their convenience.

As long as you are not interested in working on solutions, you are not
doing anybody a favor by venting.

David Kastrup

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