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Re: official Emacs Docker image

From: joakim
Subject: Re: official Emacs Docker image
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2016 23:01:46 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.0.50 (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. ]]]
>   > I see now that I was unclear: A Docker image is a self-contained tarball
>   > containing a GNU/Linux kernel, necessary system software, and the final 
> Emacs
>   > executable that was built by the image recipe.
> Now it is coherent.
>   > The Docker image contents, thus, can be entirely free software. Executing 
> the
>   > image on some platforms (such as Windows) may use proprietary software to
>   > perform the execution (for example, VM provisioning software).
> I see how it makes sense to use this on Windows.  But it seems absurd
> to use this on GNU/Linux.  Why does anyone do that?

It is quite useful in order to handle dependencies.

When developing an emacs feature I found it useful to test the feature
by having many different emacs docker containers, each one containing
different gnu/linux distributions and different emacs compile flags.
It was very convenient in order to test all the different configurations
on a single machine.

A container is a bit like a virtual machine but also a bit like a
traditional changeroot.

Another thing to consider is that Docker isn't fantastic for desktop
applications, at least when I used Docker for this purpose. It is
doable, by manipulating X sockets and whatnot.

For this reason alternatives are emerging with focus on desktop
applications, such as Flatpak. Gnome applications can be accessed with
Flatpak for instance.

Another method is using Gnu Guix.

All methods have their pros and cons and different usage scenarios.

> How big would such a docker image be?  I know that disks are getting
> bigger, but how many such applications could fit on a typical laptop?

Docker uses layered copy on write file systems in order to save space.
Basically, each container can re-use the filesystem usage of other
containers. I can't provide an exact figure of how many docker packaged
applications can fit on a laptop, but "many" is a reasonable assumption.

> However, I don't see any ethical issue about making and distributing
> Docker images of Emacs as long as we get the details right: for
> instance, use an endorsed free GNU/Linux distro.
> Do you see any specific issues we need to consider?
Joakim Verona

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