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Re: Emacs contributions, C and Lisp

From: Perry E. Metzger
Subject: Re: Emacs contributions, C and Lisp
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2015 12:39:08 -0500

On Thu, 08 Jan 2015 09:26:08 -0500 Stefan Monnier
<address@hidden> wrote:
> > The long term result of all of this may very well be to do
> > exactly the opposite of what you want -- to convince compiler
> > researchers that LLVM is the only serious platform for their
> > work, and even worse, to convince developers in general that free
> > software is too hard to use and that non-free software is the way
> > for them to get their work done.
> Let's not forget that LLVM is Free.  It's not as Free as GCC since
> it doesn't use a copyleft license, but it's not proprietary.

Yes. I was referring more to the young hackers who are starting to
use proprietary IDEs in preference to open editors because of the
lack of modern tooling in Emacs.

> > I think most of us understand the issue as you see it. I think the
> > distinction is that most of us believe the trade-off is
> > important. Yes, this may indeed mean that some proprietary
> > software ends up being based on GCC just as some proprietary
> > software is based on GNU/Linux, but the overall impact will be
> > positive, and the risk is much lower than the reward.
> I think this "much" is an understatement.


I hope RMS understands that we do indeed appreciate that people will
probably then base some proprietary programs on GCC and that we don't
like this, but that we believe the trade-off is very important, and
that the bad result probably cannot be prevented.

That is to say: the bad part of this likely cannot be
prevented, but by not permitting modular use of GCC we could act to
prevent a good result as well (that is, we could prevent Emacs from
being able to provide modern IDE features), and *that* would be a

There is also a significant opportunity here that could be lost. If
GCC were modular, but the best libraries for dealing with the
intermediate data formats like the AST were GPLed, then code linked to
those libraries would be GPLed. Yes, one could do a non-free
re-implementation of such libraries as well, but one can also build a
whole new compiler that isn't GPLed (LLVM, anyone?) If you tempt
people with good functionality, the path of least resistance will be
to bring more software under the GPL mantle, not less.

Perry E. Metzger                address@hidden

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