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    I’ve been harping on the Stallman-is-mortal aspect for a while, but unfortunately the FSF’s actions are those of an organization which is committed fully to dying with Stallman, and until then to existing for no other purpose than to give Stallman power and comforts during his declining years.

    But I’ll say it again: one of the most important measures of a movement is whether it can outlive its founder. And by that measure, the FSF is aiming to be an utter failure, and has no excuse for it.

    The examples in this article are not particularly unusual. Stallman’s been obviously unfit as both a technical and political leader for at least many years now, but FSF/GNU is chained to him and that’s that. In the meantime, the most effective thing any GNU project can do for its own technical progress is to find ways to keep Stallman busy and distracted so that he won’t be an active hindrance to them.

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      one of the most important measures of a movement is whether it can outlive its founder. And by that measure, the FSF is aiming to be an utter failure,

      FSF is not a movement. The Free Software movement will outlive the FSF.

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        It already did. The writing has been on the wall for of a couple of decades. And it is continually materialised, to the almost extreme point where we are today. Ie. Being irrelevant.

        The FSF and even other similar entities like the Apache Software Foundation, buy into this illusion of creating a parallel almost corporate-like structure, on top of what essentially is a bunch of hackers doing their own thing and sharing it with the world. It is sort of creating a culture that is a paradox in istelf. They heavily pushed for things like “The GNU project” or “the official repository” where individual pieces of software would need to be centrally and officially acknowledged as a part of it and need to obey a bunch of technical and bureaucratic principles. I think much of it comes from the fact that many of the early free software enthusiasts had jobs in academia, where things are highly hierarchy based, with a huge privilege imbalance.

        Most of projects that bought into being a part of this huge obsolete structure failed either completely or to a considerable extent, while other free software that just did its own thing thrived.

        Millions of people share their free code on a platform owned by Microsoft no less (GitHub). Plenty of projects initially shared by some anonymous dude, are today important tools in the workflow of millions of people everyday. Meanwhile, a handful of neckbeards put more than 50% of their effort have heated discussions about who owns a folder in a 30 year old repo that sees a dozen updates per year or so.

        Linus Torvalds realised this 25 years ago. A bit bizarre that we haven’t established that no one cares about the GNU project. Or maybe the world already did it for us, as the article points out.

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          Yeah the writing was on the wall as soon as Linux took off. It became apocryphal and memetic when people started making fun of RMS’s ‘I’d like to interject, what you are referring to as Linux is in fact GNU/Linux’ etc. We have a short memory as an industry.

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        one of the most important measures of a movement is whether it can outlive its founder.

        I think it’s a rare exception when a movement is relevant over multiple generations. Like the author points out, the proprietary software world has more or less routed around and encapsulated the free software movement. When the FSF was founded, a lot of the people using computers were computer programmers. Almost forty years later, most computer users have no interest in a “freedom to modify” the software they use, because they wouldn’t be able to even if they were allowed to.

        If you look at movements that have been relevant across multiple generations, you see vast differences in their scope, goals and leadership. Second-wave feminism was radically different from first-wave feminism, and some of the prominent ideologues of second-wave feminism became the villains of fourth-wave feminism.

        There seem to be people who believe that the free software movement would be able to reinvigorate itself, after an orderly leadership election in the FSF. I don’t think it’s that easy. If there’s to be a new wave of “free software”, someone (or multiple someones) need to think about its values, scope and goals first. Then there’s actually something to talk about when it comes to leadership.

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          When the FSF was founded, a lot of the people using computers were computer programmers. Almost forty years later, most computer users have no interest in a “freedom to modify” the software they use, because they wouldn’t be able to even if they were allowed to.

          Which is what’s so infuriating about Stallman as both a political and technical leader. He exists in his own hermetically-sealed techno-ascetic bubble, explicitly insulated from what’s actually happening in the world, and so he clearly has absolutely no clue about it. And never will, because his ascetic bubble is his “solution”.

          But that doesn’t fight for or increase user freedom at all; in fact, it explicitly surrenders on the whole idea! A true champion of Free Software ideals should want the benefits of those ideals in a rich, modern, full-featured user experience. But Stallman has no evident interest in doing so, because he has his little good-enough bubble of tools that meet his needs, and has fallen so far out of touch that still thinks things like compiler extensibility are the big fights he needs to put energy into.

          Meanwhile the former GNU project which has done the most to actually try to deliver a rich modern experience in Free Software is GNOME, which explicitly broke from GNU largely due to Stallman’s behavior toward them.

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            Meanwhile the former GNU project which has done the most to actually try to deliver a rich modern experience in Free Software is GNOME, which explicitly broke from GNU largely due to Stallman’s behavior toward them.

            A lot of good free software was produced despite Stallman’s leadership, not because of it. Many people have been ignoring him for decades. If you need any proof that ‘the movement’ will be fine without him, you’re probably using it.

            Which is why I don’t understand the need to unseat Stallman. Whatever authority he has, he has because some people are still willing to listen to him. They’re willing to listen to him not because he’s the head of the FSF, but because he’s arguably someone who had a vision relatively early on, and advocated for that vision in a consistent manner over the decades of his career.

            If you disagree with his vision, speak up! Articulate your own vision. Organize people around it. That’s the way political movements rejuvenate themselves.

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        I’m unhappy to see RMS making (apparently) poor governance decisions about emacs, and in general unhappy to see the FSF fighting the last war in terms of promoting free software. I think software freedom in the sense that RMS has articulated is even more important than it was in the 80s and 90s - way more people are using software now than then, way more people in particular are using non-free software that is written by organizations who have a specific agenda about how they want to control the users of their software. It’s important to make the right tactical decisions in promoting software freedom, and yeah I don’t see how getting in the way of a better GC for emacs accomplishes this.

        I personally use neovim as my text editor, and I was pleased to see its maintainers fork it from the existing vim codebase and make their own changes to it faster and more creatively than the existing vim maintainers were willing to. I hear the competition has gotten the existing vim maintainers to up their game, although I’m personally happy to keep using neovim for the time being and haven’t checked out vim lately. Maybe some forward-thinking people need to fork the emacs codebase - although I thought that there were at least some projects to do this already, e.g. some people trying to port emacs to Rust (which I think would be an excellent idea, as I do for all C codebases). Shouldn’t it be particularly tractable to do this with emacs, since most of the actual business logic is implemented in elisp that won’t need to change if ported from one runtime to another?

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          Emacs has already been forked, in the form of XEmacs, which didn’t go smoothly. Maybe another fork less blatantly focussed on practicality might do better? But it would be tricky.

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            The XEmacs schism was done out of practical reasons - GNU emacs not merging useful functionality like “proper GUI support”.

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              There’s an active Emacs fork at github.com/commercial-emacs which already contains big improvements over GNU Emacs.

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            Among the “RMS should step down” genre of posts, this is a remarkably civil and polite one.

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              I think it’s because they don’t need to (and explicitly do not) address any of his non-technical behaviour, and purely look at his public and explicit decision making. It means you can just point at examples where his refusal to allow X to happen, for fear of some evil entity then using X in a proprietary product. The perpetual hamstringing of gcc to defend against nefarious companies basically drove the existence of clang, and now the ongoing loss in relevance of gcc. Even today gcc (7 years after the event the article links to) still does not have a comparable mechanism to compete with clang, so new editors don’t even consider it - which means increasingly clang is becoming the chrome of the c/c++ compiler world.

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              I wrote a little about how clear it was that desktop software freedom was “the last war”… back in 2012. In the post, “Cloud GNU: where are you?”, I described how by 2012, developers running a Linux desktop were decreasingly likely to be experiencing the Freedom and Control that might have attracted them to Linux in the first place, because so much of the software they run was remote hosted and proprietary. The only bright spot being open source browsers. Even more true today, but the 2012 time capsule of a post shows how all the signs were clear then.

              I am not sure FSF and GNU can be where the “next generation” of software freedom is pondered. I thank rms, esr, perens, et. al. for their contributions to the thinking of the 80s, 90s, and early 00s, but I think we need some truly fresh thinking now.

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                WRT bus factor: I remember people musing that if rms stepped down, the movement would cease to exist without him. But a movement that can’t outlive its leader isn’t a movement, it’s a cult of personality.

                I think rms/the FSF not trying to create a new generation of leadership will basically do the movement in. (In fact, it’s a pretty well known problem for societies in general.) It’s one thing to step down, it’s another to have no one replace you in the end.

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                  Nobody here has addressed the obvious response here: if RMS is deadweight, and the FSF are permanently chained to him, then the solution is a separate organization.

                  Which begs the question: which?

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                    I think the Software Freedom Conservancy is one of the closest successor organizations, since it has experience enforcing GPL compliance. https://sfconservancy.org/

                    I’ve also enjoyed some of their recent actions, such as the Give Up GitHub campaign. I think they embody a lot of the same ethics without the baggage (RMS).

                    But they are a different org and do not have an identical mission or the same capabilities, and cannot be considered a direct replacement.

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                      I dunno, I feel the FLOSS community interprets RMS+FSF as damage, and routes around it.

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                        Multiple thousands of people do not. Maybe there are enough people who do that we’re okay? But we won’t really know until it’s too late.

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                      It’s interesting seeing the BFDL card being played; I’m amused that the author seems to think it’s a real weakness when frankly the approach has worked for three decades. RMS wants his editor to be a word processor, apparently, more than a code editor–that’s his call I suppose.

                      I for one appreciate RMS’ unapologetic and unwavering devotion to user freedom, even if the new cages have better plumbing and more interchangeable bedsheets.

                      If people don’t like FSF and GNU, fork the software or go elsewhere. Let the project die of old age or starvation as a hero, instead of softly in a nursing home corrupted in its values.

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                        Stallman is fundamentally unfit to serve as either a political or technical leader, and it’s been painfully obvious for years. The fact that he’s clearly not even aware of where the actual battles need to be fought today should be sufficient evidence of his political unfitness, and his clear unawareness of the state of the language/compiler/editor landscape should be sufficient evidence of his technical unfitness.

                        It’s long past time for him to move on, or for FSF/GNU to move on from him. Give him the Lifetime Achievement Award and a pension already, and let competent people step up and lead. Otherwise, the whole thing dies when he does. Is that really the outcome you want to see?

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                          Then don’t follow him. Fundamentally, software freedom is about the right to fork and run your own project on your own terms.

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                            I have a problem with “either accept this one person’s word as dictatorial fiat for as long as he lives, or build your own equivalent completely from scratch” as the only options on offer. I don’t disagree that, as FSF/GNU currently operate, those factually are the only options on offer, but if someone actually cares about the future of the ideals of Free Software, they should feel extremely uncomfortable with that.

                            It is long past time to be recruiting and training up the next generation of leaders and putting them into positions of responsibility, but instead all efforts are bent toward ensuring Stallman clings to sole power for as long as he wants. as I have said over and over, the predictable outcome of this is that the whole thing collapses as soon as Stallman is gone. So, same question as to the other person: is that the outcome you want to see?

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                              I have a problem with “either accept this one person’s word as dictatorial fiat for as long as he lives, or build your own equivalent completely from scratch” as the only options on offer.

                              I’m not entirely sure how you’d interpret “fork” as “entirely from scratch”. I’ve been around various people who forked projects so they could take them in a different direction (eg, I was a summer of code student at the time of the Xorg fork, I’m friends with the CopperSpice developers, and I work on 9front and OpenBSD, both of which are forks of other operating systems). Forking is very much the opposite of starting from scratch.

                              Many of the Sun projects that Oracle touched has forked and most have beaten their upstream alternatives in the market place. Many of the ones that haven’t beaten them into the dust are at least strong competitors.

                              Forking has also succeeded with GNU projects – most notably, EGCS was a fork of GCC, which completely replaced the GCC codebase when GNU realized they were losing developers and needed to change course. Lucid Emacs (later, XEmacs) may not have completely taken over, but it did shift the development direction of GNU Emacs. The eglibc fork of glibc was shipped with Debian for many years, and also directly pushed glibc in specific directions.

                              If there’s enough dissatisfaction around the leadership of the original project, contributors from the original project readily jump ship.

                              It’s happened before. It can happen again.

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                                I think it is helpful to look at a fork kinda like a labor strike: a bunch of people get together and refuse to work with someone unless certain demands are met. Ideally, you get a fair contract and start working together again, but failing that, you keep going your own way. But really the best outcome of a fork is also what most striking workers want - a deal with management so they can get back to their jobs, but better.

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                              That’s a glib and unhelpful answer.

                              Forking isn’t useful as any meaningful work requires far more work than one or two people on a fork can accomplish, and gcc’s stated intention to make things unstable so that non-free tools can’t make use of internals means any GPL fork has just as much workload as actual funded commercial entities. Even though there are many groups that want to do this, none have the expertise to maintain a complete fork, and even if they were all able to work together the core changes you’d want to make are the ones that RMS has strictly opposed, so you can assume your fork would be unable to track the mainline gcc for very long. That very quickly means your fork becomes irrelevant, unless you want to independently implement all the new language features added to mainline gcc.

                              At that point every group can see the pointlessness of trying to use gcc - either mainline given RMS, or a fork - and just works with llvm and clang. Which is why the vast majority of recent (<10 years old) C/C++ research, tooling, etc is built on clang, and every new programming language uses llvm for the back end.

                              Now to be very clear, this is not a result of the commercial appeal of bsd vs. gpl licensing, but a result of RMS requiring projects be actively engineered to prevent those use cases. The original article, and the threads it links to, are filled with people who believe in the mission of the FSF, believe in the GPL, and believe in the importance of gcc. They do not want to abandon it, but can see that the reality of RMS’s leadership is making gcc and similar irrelevant.

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                                That very quickly means your fork becomes irrelevant, unless you want to independently implement all the new language features added to mainline gcc.

                                Today’s GCC is a rebranding of EGCS. EGCS was a fork of GCC.

                                The scenario you’re describing as impossible has already happened, and GCC lost.

                                Now to be very clear, this is not a result of the commercial appeal of bsd vs. gpl licensing

                                Apple started to fund LLVM as a direct response to GCC becoming GPL3 licensed. They also stopped updating any GNU software that transitioned to GPL3.

                                GCC made bad technical decisions, but the final straw that lead Apple to hitch their wagon to LLVM rather than forking GCC was the license.

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                                  Today’s GCC is a rebranding of EGCS. EGCS was a fork of GCC.

                                  EGCS did not make meaningful changes to the core architectural policies of gcc, the fork was made by a group of the core contributors to gcc who were simply annoyed at the speed that the fsf driven gcc mainline was adopting and implementing new features. Those contributors were still working on both gcc and egcs, so it wasn’t likely that there was ever going to be any irreconcilable changes between the “fork”, and the overlap in core contributors - so close as to require explicitly stating that some of the maintainers would be offloading some of the work to other core contributors because otherwise they’d be contributing to and maintaining two forks concurrently.

                                  Personally I would say that egcs was in reality a dev branch, not a fork. Which gets us to

                                  The scenario you’re describing as impossible has already happened, and GCC lost.

                                  Which is not true, because the changes needed for gcc to provide the vaguest semblance of usability of llvm and clang would require a fork that is completely incompatible with the stated architectural goals of gcc. RMS (and therefore gcc and fsf) has stated that not only is internal architectural stability not needed, but that it is actively discouraged, lest some corporation be able to nefariously try and abuse GPL software instead of the better designed bsd option. Unlike the new features egcs was adding, the improved architecture benefits tools that aren’t gcc itself, and so there’s no significant group of the core contributors showing any interest, especially in a fork that would be an actual fork.

                                  Apple started to fund LLVM as a direct response to GCC becoming GPL3 licensed. They also stopped updating any GNU software that transitioned to GPL3.

                                  GPL3 was a huge turn off for many contributors in many projects, whether it’s warranted or not I’m not going to touch, but to act like that was the only reason is at best revisionist view of history. Apple already had llvm-gcc to handle the backend issues.

                                  Apple wanted Xcode to be a high end IDE, on par with the MSVCs, NetBeans, etc of the era. That means it needed a compiler that provided all the information required for correct autocomplete, refactoring tools, symbol lookups, etc.

                                  This is what the thread linked in the article was wanting from gcc, which remember they were only doing, because RMS demanded that they use gcc instead of clang, which they were using due to apple’s work into making it useful for that specific purpose. RMS did the classic “I don’t want this feature” argument of essentially requiring that someone pre-list all possible future ideas.

                                  GCC made bad technical decisions, but the final straw that lead Apple to hitch their wagon to LLVM rather than forking GCC was the license.

                                  This is simply incorrect. The development of clang was a combined result of the license change, that disinterest in objc, and not just the refusal to support IDEs, but actively encouraging things that would break them. The latter two were sufficient on their own, GPLv3 merely accelerated this by mandating that apple not ever update their system’s gcc.

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                                    To quote the EGCS announcement:

                                    Why are we doing this? It’s become increasingly clear in the course of hacking events that the FSF’s needs for gcc2 are at odds with the objectives of many in the community who have done lots of hacking and improvement over the years.

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                                Running your own fork by yourself is almost always pointless and self-defeating; in order for the fork to be viable you need to convince others that your position is worth investing effort in, which is what the above post is doing.

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                              BFDL? (honest question, no idea what you’re referring to, and the first google hit is “battle for dreamland” … which I don’t think is correct here?)

                              The point the author is making is that it hasn’t worked for 3 decades. It honestly started to struggle a decade ago at least. What has been happening is RMS is applying logic that made sense when free (sigh, “as in freedom”) alternatives to FSF/GNU software did not exist, especially when gpl (esp. 3) is decidedly non-free compared to bsd from the perspective of people building on the software. The arguments made by RMS in the specific thread the article references were no longer relevant even then, 7 years ago - seriously, what company worried about the legal impact of the GPL would consider any kind of circuitous workaround over simply using clang/llvm?

                              Which gets to the core point:

                              If people don’t like FSF and GNU, fork the software or go elsewhere. Let the project die of old age or starvation as a hero, instead of softly in a nursing home corrupted in its values.

                              These are people who do care about the FSF, GNU, and their ideals, but they can see that the current policies of FSF, GNU, etc are causing people to do what you suggest: go elsewhere. The core tenet of those policies is that no matter the reason, if a design decision could allow non-free use of FSF code, then such changes should be blocked for fear that they would be. This despite the above explanation of why that is simply not a real threat.

                              There are plenty of reasons to dislike the FSF and GNU (theft of property, etc), but to see it die through self inflicted injury is just sad and I don’t particularly want to see it.

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                                BDFL - Benevolent dictator for life.

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                                  dduuurrrrr, thanks! I should have known that one, but apparently braining is hard :D

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                                    Bingo! Sorry, typos happen :(

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                                    gpl (esp. 3) is decidedly non-free compared to bsd from the perspective of people building on the software.

                                    Yeah, because its aim is to preserve and spread software freedoms for users of the software, not for creators.

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                                      I understand the intent of GPL, I think you’re misunderstanding why what I said is relevant - I think my reply to u/FeepingCreature clarifies it if you feel there’s ambiguity in my original statement

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                                      especially when gpl (esp. 3) is decidedly non-free compared to bsd from the perspective of people building on the software.

                                      This is, of course, the entire point.

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                                        I understand the intent, I am stating the reason why RMS forcing bad design decisions onto projects he has control of is indicative of an unwillingness to acknowledge the reality that has existed for a decade or so. That unwillingness to acknowledge reality is why RMS is not fit to be in the position of absolute power that he currently has.

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                                      I think that RMS and the FSF have a view of who users are, and what those users need, that has never advanced past MIT AI Lab in the ‘70s. They are fighting a war that they’ve already lost. Software is so much more important today, and so much less free, and I have yet to hear any arguments that engage with the world that is, rather than the world that was, from RMS et al.

                                      The deontological, principled position that RMS holds is IMO easier to get behind than the ethically vapid shilling that the “open source” people pretend to, but fighting yesterday’s battles, even nobly fighting yesterday’s battles, is not in fact in anyone’s interest. It would be like protesting the jus primae noctis – a noble cause, 500 years out of date.

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                                        Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head here. We’ve got a number of additional big problems with software these days, and the ones RMS is prepared to deal with aren’t even the biggest ones anymore.

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                                        I’m amused that the author seems to think it’s [the BDFL system] a real weakness when frankly the approach has worked for three decades

                                        Because most (none) of them are not yet dead. What happens after a major BDFL dies is still unknown.

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                                          Clang is free software. When you refer to clang as a “cage”, you are saying that any free software project that isn’t controlled by RMS, or which doesn’t have his branding and endorsement, is a “cage”.

                                          It’s not good to identify free software so closely with the person of RMS. Does all free software vanish from the world the moment he dies?

                                          Free software is defined by the FSF via The Free Software Definition and the Four Freedoms. Nowhere in this definition does it say that software needs to be endorsed by RMS in order to be free. We know that clang is free because the source code is distributed under a Free Software licence. RMS refuses to endorse clang because it competes with GCC, which is his baby. But regardless, clang is still free.

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                                            You’re putting words in my mouth–I was speaking a bit more generally than just Clang or whatever non-GNU free software package you wish to motte-and-bailey with.

                                            To spell out a flourish and avoid further confusion:

                                            I respect the extremely hard line that RMS has taken and I’m glad that he has done so, even though other people and developers have been tempted to give up some user freedoms because other software might be a bit easier to use or develop for. The “cages” are more comfortable alternatives that offer short-term convenience in exchange for long-term control.

                                            Visual Studio on Windows is (or at least was) a strictly better IDE than whatever you can cobble together for C/C++ development on Linux. Windows (or at least was) a strictly better and more widely-deployed desktop environment than anything Linux has. Facebook is near strictly better than GNU Social. Gmail is more convenient and better than the janky-but-free stacks it replaced. Photoshop (back when you could self-host it) runs circles around the GIMP and Krita.

                                            Yet, it’s obvious that none of those solutions is something I’d consider “prioritizing user freedom”.

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                                              The problem here is the RMS has spent decades hobbling gcc, not out of an intent to protect user freedoms, but out of a desire to make it harder for non-free software to leverage part of gcc without inheriting the GPL. In the last decade clang/llvm has made that world view increasingly irrelevant, but RMS still forces decisions based on a worldview that no longer matches reality. In doing so he directly harms users according his own definition of user freedom, as his forced design decisions force people to use clang/llvm.

                                              This is not a question of giving up the hard line he takes: no one is saying gcc, emacs should become bsd licensed, or that GPLv4 should be BSD-like. What they are saying is that hobbling projects like gcc is counterproductive to the stated goals of the project. People have been asking for gcc to be usable as a toolkit (a la clang/llvm) for decades - people were writing articles about how the design of gcc was intended to make such use infeasible back when I was starting at university, which is getting scarily close to 20 years ago now. Back then the idea that a company might use such to circumvent GPL requirements was actually reasonable, but imagine what GPL’d tooling and editors might look like today if there were a gcc equivalent of clang/llvm’s libclang, libAST, etc 20 years ago.

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                                            It’s interesting seeing the BFDL card being played; I’m amused that the author seems to think it’s a real weakness when frankly the approach has worked for three decades. RMS wants his editor to be a word processor, apparently, more than a code editor–that’s his call I suppose.

                                            I don’t know about that. I’ve been an Emacs user for 30 years, but for the last 10 or so, every time I’ve seen RMS involved in a discussion on emacs-devel, he’s been actively opposing things that are almost universally wanted by Emacs users. And generally, his objections don’t have anything to do with user freedom.

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                                            It’s a bit amusing that RMS first says that Emacs is part of the GNU Project so he has overriding control, but then later says that he’s trying to convince the gcc (also part of the GNU Project) maintainers to add LSP support.

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                                              This is all rather outdated. Not only is a LSP client implementation being added to Emacs, tree-sitter integration will be as well. I note that this isn’t about the features, rather it is about rms’s stewardship of the whole GNU project.

                                              I think it would be more interesting to chronicle how things went with adding Sqlite support into Emacs. rms was opposed, because Sqlite allows proprietary extensions, which could be depended on by packages, etc. etc. Now, Sqlite support is coming in 29.0 but I missed the part where the maintainers agreed on adding it. I think it was solved off-list by Eli, Lars and rms.

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                                                No, it’s not, as it’s a post about how RMS is causing harm by not accepting that the battle for GPL-or-nothing mentality was over, not a specific episode.

                                                The problem is that RMS refuses to acknowledge that the environment has changed and is intentionally limiting free software at all cost, to try and protect against a threat that no longer existed - seriously, name any company that would want to touch gcc specifically, or more generally anything GPL3, with a 10 foot pole when llvm+clang exist. For any proprietary shop the equation is super simple: llvm+clang are BSD licensed so there is no need to even touch the GPL3’d GCC, and llvm+clang are designed from scratch to be usable and embeddable in different ways. The threat that such a shop would willingly risk having one group of engineers make an “export the AST” plugin that was GPL3 as required, and then a different group build a program that read that output is laughable.

                                                The addition of LSP to emacs is happening long after other editors, and for C and C++ to my knowledge all of the servers are built on clang and llvm, which was what the original emacs project the RMS blocked was doing. RMS blocked it because clang+llvm was not sufficiently free. The result of which is that clang now defines what code completion is for the majority of C/C++ code editors - gcc isn’t involved. Because of the fear of people reusing gcc’s amazing codegen leading to bad technical choices, most new languages now simply use llvm.

                                                The longer RMS’s refusal to accept that the battle is at least different from when gcc was the only free game in town, and so he continue to require poor technical decisions, and block things that would actually help gcc, the longer gcc continues a slide towards irrelevance. The original thread being referenced in the article (where RMS was making decisions on the basis of policy for a subject he demonstrably did not understand) was ~7 years ago now, which means that a person could be starting at uni and now have finished a phd in CS, and through their entire academic life gcc, or any of the FSF compilers or languages was not remotely relevant or useful to them, beyond compiling assignments.

                                                That’s kind of the point of the article: RMS is fighting a battle that is lost, and because of that the decisions that he unilaterally enforces are in totality harmful. The specific episode the article is referring to is just used as a very clear example of how his approach is harming free software.

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                                                  The goals of the FSF and RMS aren’t necessarily to win a popularity contest and dominate the competition. Beating LLVM and LSP, but losing GPL protection is a loss by their rules.

                                                  In a lot of ways their concerns are more relevant than ever. Just the other day there was an article here (or HN?) about corporations exploiting non-GPL licenses and developers.

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                                                    Just the other day there was an article here (or HN?) about corporations exploiting non-GPL licenses and developers.

                                                    There are many such articles. I generally don’t understand them.

                                                    All my personal open-source work is BSD licensed. I BSD my stuff because I want it to be useful to the widest possible audience of developers in the widest possible set of situations. If they then exercise the freedom that I explicitly chose to give them, I don’t see how that’s “exploiting” either the software, or me. I also have a day job to pay the bills and I make heavy use of permissive-licensed software at that day job. Sometimes it’s even software that I wrote years ago – am I “exploiting” myself when I use it?

                                                    The only way it could be “exploitation” is if I expected companies to pay me or to do their own maintenance. But I don’t expect them to, and there’s no major copyleft license I’m aware of that would force them to – even if I AGPL something, that won’t force them to pay me or do maintenance.

                                                    And I know the real thing people are getting at is a claim that it’s “exploiting” because the companies can modify the software without being forced by the license to release their modifications to the world, but if I wanted to force that I’d pick a copyleft license and I very explicitly did not pick a copyleft license. I’m not obligated to feel “exploited” because someone else says I should – I licensed my software with no requirements for recipients to release their modifications, and I knew exactly what I was doing when I did so. So please do not get angry on my behalf, or declare that I am being “exploited” or whatever. I’m part of an ecosystem that works just fine for me, even if it’s not what you think I should want.

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                                                    seriously, name any company that would want to touch gcc specifically, or more generally anything GPL3, with a 10 foot pole when llvm+clang exist.

                                                    And Clang exists specifically because Apple wanted to integrate a C/C++ language model into their Xcode IDE (which used to use GCC) but couldn’t do it by hooking into GCC internals due to the GPL restrictions.

                                                    I find copyleft licenses sort of self-defeating for this reason: they create enough limitations for companies to use the software, that at some point a company (they are, after all, the ones with more engineering resources) will find it makes business sense to write their own replacement. The silver lining is that, in a lot of cases, the companies have made those replacements open source rather than proprietary.

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                                                      And that stirred great competition: clang and gcc pushed each other to make better error messages for c++, and the c++ committee pushed themselves to make it harder to make good error messages for c++ :D

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                                                    Well, yes. The thing is that good stuff in Emacs tends to be done over RMS’s objections, and those objections are rarely more than tangentially related to user freedom.

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                                                      The article explicitly mentions elgot being added with rms’ approval.

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                                                        The linked approval is a post from 2017, and isn’t really an approval of any kind. Eglot did not exist then. The details have changed a lot since then.

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                                                          I took that to be stating it’s soon but showing rms had approved it at some point. But I can understand your side now, thanks.

                                                          (Given the text of the rms post, it didn’t really seem to me that it could make sense otherwise. It’s not saying soon in 2017.)

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                                                      I can’t believe no one’s made this joke yet (including myself) - regardless of whether you agree with the submission or not, you have to admit that it’s pretty funny that this is all in the context of RMS referring to himself as the “Chief GNUisance”.