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Re: State of the GNUnion 2020

From: Andy Wingo
Subject: Re: State of the GNUnion 2020
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2020 21:37:55 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.3 (gnu/linux)

Hello Eli :)

On Wed 12 Feb 2020 19:13, Eli Zaretskii <> writes:

>> From: DJ Delorie <>
>> Are we DONE producing that operating system?  No?  If not, why not?
>> Aren't all those developers who finished their packages working on
>> other, new packages?  Why aren't the package counts continuing to
>> increase, if the developers are otherwise unoccupied?
> Those are very important questions

Glad you agree!

> and they should have been investigated, analyzed, and answered

I agree also!  This sort of activity is natural in a project that
engages in self-reflection.  If a project has leadership, then naturally
leadership would be conducting the exercise.

> _before_ showing us a bunch of naïve graphs and drawing conclusions
> from them (which unsurprisingly coincide with the opinions the author
> expressed long before showing those graphs).

I know that we may disagree on interpretation of the data, and that
neither you nor I can avoid starting this kind of investigation with
preconceptions, but please believe that I did the analysis in good

I started with an open question about what it would mean for GNU to be a
project in good or bad health, settled on using project release data as
a base, and in the end thought active projects could be a good measure.
There are other ways to interpret the data; again, if the data have
problems, corrections are welcome, or fork the repo and do your own
analysis... seriously.  If we admit the possibility that GNU may be in
a bad state, then we should certainly look into it.  I have my
conclusions which I stand by but which are certainly not set in stone.

> If someone wants to try answering this question:
>> If a set of developers finish a package, and don't start on a new one, I
>> think that says something interesting about the health of GNU and its
>> community.

I agree entirely, it's a very good question.

> Why wasn't such (or similar) analysis done before coming up with this
> "state of GNUnion"?  I think such anecdotal studies can speak volumes
> more than those graphs.

This could be!  Please do go out and ask.

> And then we have Guile, whose development pace leaves a lot to be
> desired, if we really want it to become the GNU standard extension
> languages.  Strangely, the Guile developers, including Andy Wingo,
> don't seem to do anything about that.  There are no discussions about
> making the project more active, none at all.  Does that mean the Guile
> level of activity is OK with Andy?  If so, how does that live in peace
> with the seemingly grave outlook for the rest of GNU?

Honestly this argument is beneath you.  You do not believe my
conclusions about GNU -- which is fine -- but instead you try to shift
the focus to the project I maintain, claiming that it is in poor health
-- something that which would not invalidate the argument -- but, with
no data or analysis to back it up, which is the aspect that you
criticise about my conclusion.  WTF.

We can never know what might have been, but I believe that without my
work on Guile, it would certainly be dead now.  If you believe
otherwise, it's an interesting discussion, but not germane to the
current one.

> Last, but not least: I'm not at all sure that statistics of the kind
> we were presented, which is based on various measures of package
> activity, tells anything about "the health of GNU", because GNU, at
> least as I understand that term, has almost nothing to do with
> development activity of GNU packages.  The development activity is
> determined solely by the project's development team and its abilities
> to draw contributions and find worthy development goals.  GNU as an
> organization doesn't have any impact on that, because they almost
> never interfere into these matters (unless there's some sort of
> scandal, which happens only very rarely).

Thought experiment: what would GNU be if all of its packages stopped
developing?  Dead, right?

I understand that some GNU developers feel that things are fine.  I
heartily encourage you to come up with criteria by which to understand
the health of GNU and to make an associated investigation.  I have done
so for myself and the results are not satisfying.



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