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Re: one-paragraph comments on s/w freedom being more important than tech

From: Kaz Kylheku (gnu-misc-discuss)
Subject: Re: one-paragraph comments on s/w freedom being more important than tech niftiness
Date: Mon, 11 May 2020 09:34:50 -0700
User-agent: Roundcube Webmail/0.9.2

On 2020-05-08 17:40, Mark Galassi wrote:
Dear GNU folk,

Long ago I had a conversation with a fellow long-time GNU developer. We
were talking about how we had come upon free software in the 1980s and
early 1990s.

We were discussing how sometimes we had felt exhilerated by, for
example, the coming of gcc, or gcc-2, which were so technically

And then we both commented that we had eventually reached the conclusion
that the usefulness of gcc, or the linux kernel, or other great
products, had come mostly because of the freedom that comes with s/w,
rather than the fact that at the moment it is the coolest s/w around.

Years latere we then noticed that, for example, gcc had played leapfrog
with various proprietary compilers, passing in and out of the top
performance slot (that's not true anymore).

Other technical matters are important in compilers, like the safety
of the code, quality of diagnostics, integration with tools, compilation
speed, arch support, ease of retargetting, reliability, version-over-version
stability, standard conformance: just to name a few things.

In dev tools, being proprietary is not just an ideological issue.
It is actually a technical disadvantage, like an important missing feature.

Anyway, nobody in their right mind pays licenses for proprietary tools
any more except in super niche areas.

But sticking with depending
on tools that offer freedom turns out to be both ethical and deeply
strategic in the long run.

However, using proprietary tools also isn't inherently unethical.

(Also, if you're using tools to produce proprietary software (which
free tools cheerfully allow), the debate of which tools it is ethical
to *use* kind of goes out the window.)

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