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conflicts in the gnu project now affect guile
conflicts in the gnu project now affect guile
Wed, 16 Oct 2019 15:14:06 +0200
Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.2 (gnu/linux)
In the last few weeks, a conversation among GNU maintainers that has
been simmering for years burst into public. For a while it resubmerged
into private GNU lists, but now it has resurfaced to affect the Guile
Just for background information, I wrote about my thoughts here:
The summary is that, like many people in GNU, I have long treated
Richard Stallman not as a hero, not as a leader, but rather a "missing
stair" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_stair) that one has to
route around. This approach was never very inclusive -- if you don't
have much experience in GNU, it's possible to not know about it, and to
fall in the hole yourself. On the other hand if you know of RMS but not
Guile, you might think that Guile developers support RMS.
However, recent events made me realize this approach was not only unfair
to newcomers, but unjust as well, as by continuing to work on GNU and
not saying anything, I was both lending unmerited prestige to RMS,
enabling his creepy behavior towards women, and additionally, enabling
his apparent pedophilia-advocacy.
Regarding this latter point, I wasn't really aware that this was a view
RMS was promoting, but I am ashamed to admit that I had heard rumors
that Richard publically advocated sex between adults and teenagers,
defended sexual harassers, and questioned the experience of victims of
sexual assault, and I preferred not to listen. Looking again, and I
think Richard's web site speaks for itself:
Anyway. So far, so GNU. A couple weeks ago I thought it an opportune
moment to declare publicly the views that I have long held privately:
that I do not consider RMS to be the leader of GNU, and that GNU
maintainers and other developers with a stake in the project should
organize to fill the void.
* * *
I pause here to mention that you may not agree with this perspective and
that is fine. There are many ways that we can continue to work together
while this discussion plays out. Part of the purpose of this mail
though is to make it clear that there are differences of opinion and
that the GNU project is in flux.
* * *
Now we get to how this issue affects Guile.
Before the RMS/GNU/FSF conversation started, Mark Weaver left Guile, for
essentially unrelated reasons. He threatened to leave because he wished
to be consulted before I landed mixed definitions and expressions and
shipped them in the 2.9.4 release; I responded over email asking to talk
about the issues; in response a week later I see that he resigned from
maintainership and left the Guile group on Savannah. It was truly a
shame for Guile, as Mark is an excellent hacker and has done a lot of
good work for Guile.
It's true also that, mixed with the sadness, I felt a modicum of relief.
It has never been easy to work with Mark. I could toil on Guile for
weeks, taking time away from my family, and then wake up to receive a
private mail excoriating me for my work. It was also far from the first
time he threatened to leave the project if he did not get his way. I
have never let the problems between Mark and me into the public sphere
though, preferring to preserve his reputation, and it is only out of
necessity that I do so now.
Yesterday, on internal project-wide GNU mailing lists, Mark brought up
his personal grievances with me, arguing that the only reason I was
ignoring RMS was because, in his opinion, RMS is the only person that
could stop me from being Guile Dictator For Life; that I was attacking
Richard out of some kind of hypocritical, tyrannical megalomania.
Naturally I don't think this is the case. We all have our problems but
this particular one isn't mine. It is true that when I get home after a
long day of work and take care of my family and maybe have a precious
half-hour or hour here or there, I usually prefer to devote it to
retiring items from my personal Guile 3.0 to-do list, rather than
helping others; a failing, perhaps, but not a malicious one. I always
tried to enable Mark's work, supporting him becoming committer, then
maintainer, then trying to keep him on board; but evidently that was not
enough. Fair enough; I can't please everybody.
Still, it was with surprise that I woke up this morning to a request
from Mark to re-join the Guile project on Savannah, saying that RMS had
appointed Mark to become co-maintainer, and that Mark assented -- "given
Now, Richard has no idea about Guile or how it works either technically
or socially, and has not consulted with me as Guile maintainer, nor to
my knowledge did he consult with Ludovic. I don't know what to conclude
about RMS's motivations -- is it retaliation? And why would Mark
assent, especially if he professes to be scandalized by autocratic
behavior and messianic tendencies? I can't say as I have no more
information than this Savannah request.
It a test, perhaps? Mark is already aware that I do not consider RMS to
have a leadership role in the GNU project, but although this position is
shared by others, it is not a consensus position, and I don't think it's
Mark's position. Of course it goes without saying that I don't consider
this supposed appointment of Mark as co-maintainer of GNU Guile to be
legitimate in the least, but who else will go along with it?
And what role is Mark looking for? Are we to have commit wars or
something? I would certainly hope not but I can't tell. I don't think
the conditions exist currently for good collaboration between me and
Mark, so I am not sure how this will play out in the future.
* * *
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that conversation about the future of
GNU has now reached Guile, but it is still strange to find that the
questions of "how much pedophilia advocacy is too much pedophilia
advocacy" or "how much creepiness towards women is acceptable" should
have any bearing on the development of an implementation of Scheme.
But, here we are. The differences of position are real and we need to
see how to go forward with them.
Perhaps this moment is an opportunity, to see where the Guile community
stands. In that spirit I invite Guile community members to weigh in on
the issue. What do you think about Guile's continued relationship with
GNU? What about its relationship with RMS? Finally, what would you
like to see happen regarding the future of Guile?
Yours in free software,