Subject: Re: gdb
From: "L. Peter Deutsch" <>
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 97 11:01 PST

>   This is a subtle shift from "any competent programmer" to "[expert]
>   maintainers of freed software".  How many large (>100K lines) pieces of
>   freed software do you know that have more than 3 people or organizations
>   qualified to fix bugs in them?
> The entire GNU suite of tools.  There are at least 100 programmers who
> are qualified to work on various aspects of each tool.

That isn't a 100K-line piece of freed software.  That's 100 1K-line pieces
of software.  My challenge stands.

> And my point about maintainers should be clear -- a proprietary
> software package has a single maintainer; the company that produced
> it.  Freed software packages have that (in spades) and more.

My challenge stands.

> Here is why it matters.  I don't own Bash, yet I wrote it, and as other
> people add features or make changes, it is my decision whether to be in or
> out of the loop.  This is true for everyone who has maintained Bash at one
> time or another.  The investment in me wasn't lost when I left the company I
> worked for (the FSF).  If I wrote significant parts of MS Word '87, do you
> think that I would still be able to see the current source code?

No.  But from a user's point of view, the only thing that matters is whether
they can get competent help.  If Microsoft chose to train other people to
provide that help, the training cost would be amortized over hundreds of
thousands of copies sold, so it doesn't matter whether or not you are still
available to provide the help.

> Better programs will appear if you are willing to wait for them.  How
> long can you afford to wait?

It depends on how dissatisfied I am with what's there now.

> Bash probably has 2 orders of magnitude more users than Ghostscript.
> The good FAQ by Chet Ramey seems to keep things relatively quiet on
> the bug report front.

You chose to ignore that Ghostscript is required by its nature to evolve in
major ways at a fairly rapid pace.  bash is static.


L. Peter Deutsch         |       Aladdin Enterprises ::::
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