[TUHS] Gnu/Stallman (was Bugs in V6 'dcheck')

Nick Downing downing.nick at gmail.com
Mon Jun 2 14:04:43 AEST 2014

Yeah. I think Richard Stallman is a legend (umm if that's too close to
"awesome" vocabulary wise then let's say he's an inspiration :) :) ), I
totally agree with everything he's done for & on behalf of free software
and really it's easy to forget how totally locked out of the unix world I
was as a 10yr old MS Basic programming hobbyist or 20yr old MS Basic
programming developer, never even used an SCCS until I was nearly 30. My
professional life would have been way more productive and satisfying if
Stallman had come along much earlier... I knew people who used unix and
packet-switched networks such as X.25 but being run for profit by large
corporations it was totally out of my price range. I also remember how much
I just yearned to have the source code of MS DOS, CP/M, AppleSoft & DOS
3.3, etc, so many unanswered questions that were only partially alleviated
by books such as "Undocumented DOS" and "Beneath Apple DOS"... I did
eventually get some of those sources or a version of them when it was much
too late & was disappointed to see how mediocre they looked from
developer's viewpoint... community could have dome much better but were
locked out of the process & relegated to writing apps & device drivers that
took ages to get working in light of limited technical info.

I'll never be in that situation again thanks to Stallman's insights and
Torvalds's and everyone else's contribution. I deplore the infighting
though and have had bad experiences in trying to offer what little time I
could afford to open source projects, now I do not really bother & just use
the tools with my own private modifications. I do think Stallman has a
point about naming of Linux v. GNU/Linux though.

What I do not like about GNU is the "kitchen sink" philosophy of including
every little used feature in every utility with longer and longer command
line switches and manpages. Bash I guess is an extreme example of this, we
do not need a commandline shell that is 1Mb in size!! Another issue I have
is the incredibly complex tools such as GCC being written in plain C when
some subset of C++ would clearly be more appropriate given their
fundamentally object oriented design. This is very laborious, repetitive
and wasteful and involves a lot of differing "private solutions" to
already-solved problems. Further the build systems are totally broken, I
appreciate what automake/autoconf is doing but from a developer point of
view they are totally unwieldy and another example of the "kitchen sink"
philosophy of supporting every conceivable, and outdated, architecture.
Much better solutions exist for these kinds of problems.

For these reasons I would likely not work on a GNU project, however I use
the tools daily and simply ignore the parts I don't like. If software
development were left to me I would be infinitely subroutinized,
redesigning the CPU so I could redesign the ISA and then return to
redesigning the compiler followed by the OS kernel followed by the C
library, the windowing system and the apps hehehe so RMS perceived a need
and filled it within a useful timescale and I'm infinitely grateful :)

cheers, Nick
On 02/06/2014 1:26 PM, "Greg 'groggy' Lehey" <grog at lemis.com> wrote:

> On Sunday,  1 June 2014 at 20:59:13 -0600, Warner Losh wrote:
> >
> > On Jun 1, 2014, at 8:09 PM, Doug McIlroy <doug at cs.dartmouth.edu> wrote:
> >
> >> Phil Garcia wrote:
> >> I've always wondered about something
> >> else, though: Were the original Unix authors annoyed when they learned
> that
> >> some irascible young upstart named Richard Stallman was determined to
> make
> >> a free Unix clone? Was he a gadfly, or just some kook you decided to
> >> ignore? The fathers of Unix have been strangely silent on this topic for
> >> many years. Maybe nobody's ever asked?
> >
> > In private moments, some of the BSD old-timers have told me they are
> > silent due to bad blood that Stallman?s early fund-raising and
> > propaganda efforts created. Why rehash 20 year old battles with an
> > obvious nutcase, eh? Since more than one person has told me this, so
> > I think silence is a wide-spread case of ?If you can?t say anything
> > nice, say nothing at all."
> But now you've said something, and it's not nice.
> Clearly this is indicative of the standpoints of the others as well.
> A lot is simply personality conflict.  As you know, I don't share that
> opinion, and I think the emphasis that FreeBSD places on ridding
> itself of GNU software is unhealthy.  Yes, rms is "unusual", but that
> goes for a lot of the BSD crowd too.  And I know enough people in the
> Linux space who dislike him as well.
> >> Gnu was always taken as a compliment. And of course the Unix clone
> >> was pie in the sky until Linus came along. I wonder about the power
> >> relationship underlying "GNU/Linux", as rms modestly styles it.
> >
> > Of course, it should be noted that the GNU project was totally
> > incapable of producing a working kernel? They did decent clones of
> > user land stuff, but Hurd was a total dead end...
> But if you state that, you need to analyse why.  I think the big issue
> was the grandiose goals that they set.  And who knows what might have
> happened if Linux and the free BSDs hadn't come along?  I don't think
> it's fair to simply dismiss it as a dead end.
> >> There are certain differences in taste between Unix and Gnu, vide
> >> emacs and texinfo...
> >
> > Emacs is awesome?.
> Not part of my vocabulary, but I couldn't live without Emacs.  Shall
> we degrade this discussion into a vi/Emacs fight?
> Greg
> --
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