Technology and Trends
 USENET Archives
Path: utzoo!mnetor!uunet!husc6!mit-eddie!WHEATIES.AI.MIT.EDU!rms
From: r...@WHEATIES.AI.MIT.EDU (Richard Stallman)
Newsgroups: comp.emacs
Subject: Emacs and NeWS
Message-ID: <>
Date: 14 Apr 88 02:32:11 GMT
Sender: dae...@eddie.MIT.EDU
Lines: 60

For several years I have been writing software for the specific purpose
of discouraging the use and development of proprietary software.  I am
working on a complete system of which GNU Emacs is just a part--a mature
and mostly stable part.

When I was first offered an interface for Suntools, I did not want to
use it.  Installing it and maintaining it would take time, which would
slow down the completion of the GNU system.  (Even when someone else
finds a bug and suggests a fix, I normally will not install it without
checking it over, since often the proposed fix is not the cleanest one.
This takes time.)

And the main effect of my doing this work would be to harm my own
cause: people would find it more convenient to use Suntools and would
have less reason to switch to X.

I consider it wrong to try to sabotage Suntools to encourage use of X.
Here, however, the question is whether I am obligated to spend my time
ameliorating Suntools.  I do not think so: this is not a worthy cause.

However, since my objection to the Suntools interface was based on the
work it would require, I did not feel I should refuse to include it if
I could truly do so without any work.  It happened that peck@sun was
willing to do all the work.  So we agreed that any editing needed in
certain files of Suntools support would be done by him or not done at
all.  I do not pay attention to bugs reports that seem related to
Suntools; either he fixes them or they are ignored.  Each of the files
has a notice to this effect.

When I heard that there was an interface between Emacs and News, I
decided to treat it like the Suntools interface, and install it in the
next major version of Emacs if I could do so with little work and if
someone else was willing to take direct charge of maintenance.  The
changes must not include many conditionals in the files that I
maintain.  I don't yet know whether these conditions will be met, but
in any case nothing can be done before version 19.

Some people who dislike my decision are calling it a "restriction".
This is inaccurate.

I receive many suggested additions to Emacs, and I do not use them
all.  When I reject an extension, whether for political reasons,
technical reasons, or simply taste in design, this means I personally
will not work with it.  This does not mean anyone else is restricted
from doing so.  I don't have the power to restrict anyone else in this

Some people have gone so far as to compare me to a software hoarder.
This must be a misunderstanding, since what software hoarders attempt
to do is forbid *everyone else* from changing or redistributing
software.  The GNU copyleft specifically says that I cannot do such a
thing.  Anyone else can maintain and distribute a different version of
Emacs if they think it is better, for some purposes, than the one I

While I don't have the right to control what software other people
distribute, or what improvements they make, I do have the right to
choose my own charitable goals for my unpaid work.  This is the kind
of choice I have made in regard to NEWS and Suntools.