[Top][All Lists]

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

Re: New maintainer

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: New maintainer
Date: Wed, 07 Oct 2015 09:43:48 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.0.50 (gnu/linux)

John Wiegley <address@hidden> writes:

> I can't help but think that unless the FSF has more to offer than its
> ideals, its technical decisions are going to render it obsolete.

The FSF never had substantially more to offer than its ideals.  All the
rest has been provided by volunteers and donations.  While Richard has
thrown a substantial amount of his own work and money and time into it
at the start, in the overall scheme that's not much more than a

> Progress waits for no man, and the world is changing more and more
> rapidly. There is a reason Clang is eating GCC's lunch: because the
> needs of a larger community demand a better free compiler.

The FSF has no control over the direction of Clang, technical or with
regard to licensing.  A whole lot of software is "eating GNU's lunch" in
a number of technical categories.  GNU started out with everybody
"eating its lunch".  The mission of the GNU project is to provide a
coherent whole with freedoms that cannot be subverted.

Apple's XCode environment is based on a free compiler, Clang, but is
licensed in a way where you may not run it on anything but Apple
computers.  _That's_ how you really eat the lunch of free software.
Having Emacs integrate with XCode for developing code in a manner that
cannot be done with the GNU system would be self-defeating.

It's the point of the GPL to be hard to subvert against the cause of
free software.  But the GPL is not a philosophical authority but a legal
tool.  Software licensed under it can be used according to our goals or
against them.  Where the only uses are weakening our cause, there is no
point in being the front-runner.  Everybody may fork Emacs (or just
provide his own packages) who wants to work on goals not helping the GNU
project, but there is no point in the core of Emacs relying on resources
and the blessing of the FSF to do so.

> Emacs is still a fantastic editor, but it's old and its age is
> showing. If we remain competitive, it could stay awesome for another
> 30 years; but if we avoid progress to further non-technical agendas, I
> think it will drive people AWAY from the GNU project, not bind them
> more tightly to it.

That argument is more than 30 years old, and many parts of the GNU
project have taken second place to other software a whole lot of the
time.  But the front leaders wither and die and get replaced by others.
GNU sticks around.  Emacs sticks around.  Its largest traditional
competitor is "vi" and it is factually gone, replaced by the most
popular free vi clone of the decade (currently vim).

Yes, we'll not end up in first place on technical merit lots of the time
because ending up in first place is not the first priority.  The first
priority is to provide a free cohesive system with essential parts
nominally and effectively under the GPL so that its use as a building
block will lead to more systems honoring and providing software freedom.

Taking custody of that may be a nuisance if you don't care or even
disagree.  But even though it's an essential part of the job, it should
not turn out a permanent distraction.  And if it does, one should try
finding a solution or compromise that manages to serve the conflicting
priorities better.

David Kastrup

reply via email to

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