Seeking a Solar Epiphany. Is it desierable?
Stephen J. Turnbull
stephen at xemacs.org
Wed Feb 11 04:58:50 EST 2004
>>>>> "Steven" == Steven T Hatton <hattons at globalsymmetry.com> writes:
Steven> It would seem silly, to me, for sun to sit on this ancient
Steven> code in view of their commitment to open source with Java.
But Sun is not sitting on any code! It's all GPL (except the Texinfo
docs under the Emacs 19 doc license)---what more can you ask? GPL is
hell of a lot better license than Sun's home-grown paper. And Sun has
already assigned the most important privilege of ownership to the FSF
---by changing the GPL, the FSF can change the XEmacs license!
What rms demands is full ownership. I can understand why Sun's
lawyers would balk at that, and nobody inside of Sun cares enough to
push it through.
Steven> Considering the fact that James Gosling was once an Emacs
Steven> hacker himself, it would seem almost evil.
Gosling is Evil Incarnate, didn't you know that? It was Jim Gosling's
sale of his rights in his version of Emacs that precipitated the GPL.
When I wrote that Sun's copyrights were the biggest obstacle, I meant
mostly that this is the biggest single chunk of code that would be
hard to get agreement on. Ben Wing may actually have as much code in
XEmacs now as Sun does, but he has agreed in principle to sign over
his code to the FSF conditional on it being incorporated in Emacs.
However, the biggest obstacle is now, as it always has been, control
and cooperation. rms shows no real sign of giving up control, and
some important XEmacs features (in particular, dynamically loadable
modules) are anathema to him. Others he has already vetoed because he
thinks they're bad ideas technically, although politically acceptable
(the package system). Furthermore, anything that we do get in to GNU
Emacs will be done to _rms_'s specification with _our_ labor, or it
won't go in. Including tracking down assignments for, or rewriting,
any unassigned code.
Really, I think that every core developer in the XEmacs camp would on
net have to lose big to achieve a merger with GNU Emacs on terms
acceptable to rms. That's regardless of the copyright issue. And I'm
pretty sure that XEmacs users would not be happy about the result of
the merger, either. It will be years after the organizational merger
before XEmacs features will get into a released GNU Emacs, and there's
no guarantee that the ones you want would make it. In the meantime
the old XEmacs would be orphaned.
I really don't think there's much point in us spending effort on it,
until we get a signal that GNU is willing to meet us approximately
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
ask what your business can "do for" free software.
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