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Re: Contributing LLVM.org patches to gud.el

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Contributing LLVM.org patches to gud.el
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2015 11:20:50 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Richard Stallman <address@hidden> writes:

> [[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider    ]]]
> [[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies,     ]]]
> [[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]
>   > > There is absolutely nothing the LLVM team could do more other than
>   > > assigning all of their copyrights to the FSF in order to hand over
>   > > licensing and development control.
> David is right.  The license of LLVM is free.  We can use that code
> if we want to.
> The problem that LLVM causes for the GNU Project is that, when used,
> it replaces GCC with a non-copylefted program.

Which means that proprietary forks become possible.  However, I think we
would do well to view the consequences of that danger in detail.  While
GNU and GCC provide us with a stronghold entirely under our control,
reigns are not restricted to a stronghold.

I think we would be better off distinguishing between LLVM as an ally
neither under our control nor protection, and parties like Nvidia who
forge proprietary variants and tools from LLVM.

It would be comparatively easy to make a campaign "don't buy from the
unfreeloaders", for example, that highlights the consequences of tieing
yourself to those who "unfreeload", namely create proprietary tools from
non-copylefted free software.

The damage they cause to their users is real and tangible, and yet
instead of making a campaign from pointing that out, we consider LLVM
the source of badness.

Here is how the damage is real and tangible as one example: I had bought
one used Thinkpad T61 with some Intel or AMD graphics card, making sure
I got no Nvidia, for my work.  When its fan broke down, another user of
GNU LilyPond provided me with the same laptop model, but with an Nvidia
card inside.

What are the consequences?  The drivers are now no longer free (either
that, or of rather low quality because Nvidia provides neither work nor
specs).  Since this laptop is in its "second life" (the GNU/Linux system
requirements are quite lower than "up-to-date" Windows would demand, so
the hardware remains perfectly usable), continuing support from Nvidia
is at best lacklustre.

Half of the time I hibernate the computer, it won't wake up again.  I
always have to put it to sleep instead if I want to continue to work.
That means that the batteries have to be loaded whenever I stop working
for longer, detracting from its battery life.  Even when put to sleep,
in about 1 case out of 20 it will not wake up.  Previously, I used the
space-efficient i586 runtime while running on an amd64 kernel.  That
way, I was able to compile and test 64bit executable (using special gcc
options) even while most of my system remained 32bit.

The Nvidia graphics drivers were unable to deal with that setup, meaning
that I can no longer use that setup for my computer.  And it is
impossible for the kernel developers to fix this breakage.

If you see in comparison that just recently Linus Torvalds refrained
from removing EISA bus support from current Linux kernels because there
was a user piping up who still needed them, it is clear that the
non-free driver policy renders your hardware deficient from the start
and it seriously devalues its resale value when continued support and
free operating system compatibility become important.

So we really, really, really should make sure to spread the message that
the hardware from vendors creating unfree and partly secret toolchains
and drivers is crippling its users from the start, and is destroying the
resale value of used hardware because of planned or tolerated early

The more we point this out, the more it will actually show itself to
make a difference in resale price of hardware, and ultimately in sales
price of hardware.

I think it is much more important, relevant and effective for us to
fight the non-free misuse of LLVM for subverting user freedom than
fighting LLVM itself.

One feature of the GPL is that it saves us from making the case for Free
Software: it replaces proselytizing with a reward: for staying within
the GPL universe, you get to use the GPL universe.

With LLVM, we have to turn to proselytizing again.  But I don't see that
it makes sense to proselytize against non-copylefted free software since
that is not our actual enemy: what the GNU project and the GPL fight is
non-free software, not non-copylefted software.  Instead we need to
proselytize against non-free software and its bad effects, and point
them out again and again.

If people get sensitized against the damage non-free software is causing
them again and again, _this_ might cause a community eventually to
consider transferring to a copylefted software scheme.  But us vilifying
them will not in any manner incite them to join our ranks on the side of
free software that is protected by copyleft.

David Kastrup

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