Subject: Re: improving project maintainership
From: Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 08:23:10 -0700 (MST)

	rms> We cannot join you, because if said that was the goal, we
	rms> would be contradicting our principal message.  We evaluate
	rms> the success of free software by the amount that you can do
	rms> using a system that is 100% free.

    I've never gotten that impression.  I've always gotten the impression
    that you evaluate success in terms of the number of people who never
    use non-free software, not in terms of the capability of free
    software.

That is right; that is the measure of the success of the free software
movement.

The technical contribution towards that goal consists of
increasing what can be done by using 100% free software.  That helps and
encourages more people to move away from proprietary software.

    Er, since when has Motif been replaced?

LessTif seems to work now, for Emacs.  But it took a long time.  What
I have concluded is that while we try to build a way out of one of
these pits, we must also try to discourage any more people from
falling into it.

    Right.  I am proposing that GNU (1) adopt a policy focussing on making
    replacement as efficient as possible, accepting use of non-free
    software in "special circumstances", and (2) explicitly dealing with
    the issue of "special circumstances" by a policy that says we must
    devote resources with top priority to eliminating the special
    circumstances.

I had to confront this issue in the earliest days of GNU, in 1984.  I
concluded that it is ok to use a non-free package temporarily in the
special circumstances where your project consists of replacing that
package with free software.  This answer to #1 automatically provides
for #2.