Subject: Re: improving project maintainership
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: 08 Feb 2002 12:53:08 +0900

>>>>> "Tom" == Tom Lord <lord@regexps.com> writes:

    Tom> I think the question of "which is the official version" is a
    Tom> symptom of a larger problem.

    Tom> We have a collection of companies and individuals who say
    Tom> that they work with free software in part because of the
    Tom> benefit of sharing their efforts with other people working on
    Tom> the same software.  At the same time, when it comes down to
    Tom> specific projects, the cooperation isn't happening as
    Tom> effectively as it should.

Based on historical practice, I can't see this as a problem that GNU
wants to deal with.  GNU has shown itself over and over again willing
to terminate cooperation[1] with anyone who is not fully devoted to free
software, within the limits of their GNU Project, no matter how
beneficial the cooperation might seem in terms of short-run goals of
improving a product or hastening availability.

    Tom> I don't think it's something that GNU can do alone.

GNU isn't trying to "do anything" about it, not if that means
compromising the principle of freedom in any imaginable way.  GNU is
about purity and quality, not about quantity or efficiency.  Quantity
and efficiency are Somebody Else's Problem.

stephen "who thinks that this attitude encourages most people to use
         more proprietary software than they otherwise would, and thus
         concludes that the GNU Project is no longer a leader in the
         movement, but rather a conservative force" turnbull


P.S.  Conservation is a GoodThang[tm].  It's just not leadership when
you're not #1 but should be.



Footnotes: 
[1]  In fact, I have seen a GNU project use its dominant position in
a given application to obstruct cooperation among third parties.
Richard Stallman made it plain that GNU Emacs would not conform to any
common specification for remote file access until the (vaporware) lsh
was available, as conforming would encourage use of the non-free (but
immediately available and robust) ssh.

The result was that the maintainers of XEmacs, EFS, and (what is now)
TRAMP abandoned the effort to create a common remote file naming
specification.  Today Emacs users must learn all three: TRAMP's
"/[user@host]path", EFS/ange-ftp's "/user@host:path", and URLs.  Extra
effort is also imposed on third party maintainers.  The internal
implementations remain fairly different, resulting in a fair amount of
tedious wrapping for anyone who wants backend-independent access.

And as far as I know, despite the importance of privacy to the GNU
Project as a general principle, GNU Emacs does not bundle an interface
to a secure remote shell.

-- 
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
              Don't ask how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.