The GNU Manifesto

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Brian Kantor

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Mar 21, 1985, 8:37:13 PM3/21/85
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[Reprinted from Dr. Dobbs Journal March 1985. Permission statement below.]

(I'm posting this because I agree with a lot of the things mentioned in it,
and because I think it should get a wide distribution among those whose
daily life it concerns. Richard Stallman's credentials are impressive,
including among other things the development of the EMACS editor and a
great deal of pioneering work with Lisp and Lisp machines.)


The GNU Manifesto
by
Richard Stallman

GNU, which stands for GNU's Not Unix, is the name for the
complete Unix-compatible software system that I am writing
so that I can give it away free to everyone who can use it.
Many other programmers are helping me. Contributions of
time, money, programs, and equipment are greatly needed.

So far we have a portable C and Pascal compiler which
compiles for Vax and 68000, an Emacs-like text editor with
Lisp for writing editor commands, a yacc-compatible parser
generator, a linker, and around 35 utilities. A shell (com-
mand interpreter) is nearly completed. When the kernel and
a debugger are written, by the end of 1985 I hope, it will
be possible to distribute a GNU system suitable for program
development. After this we will add a text formatter, an
Empire game, a spreadsheet, and hundreds of other things,
plus on-line documentation. We hope to supply, eventually,
everything useful that normally comes with a Unix system,
and more.

GNU will be able to run Unix programs, but will not be
identical with Unix. We will make all improvements that are
convenient, based on our experience with other operating
systems. In particular, we plan to have longer filenames,
file version numbers, a crashproof file system, filename
completion, perhaps, and eventually, a Lisp-based window
system through which several Lisp programs and ordinary Unix
programs can share a screen.

Both C and Lisp will be available as system programming
languages. We will try to support UUCP, MIT Chaosnet, and
Internet protocols for communication.

GNU is aimed initially at machines in the 68000/16000
class, with virtual memory, because they are the easiest
machines to make it run on. The extra effort to make it run
on less powerful machines will be left to someone who wants
to use it on them.

Why I Must Write GNU

If I like a program, I must share it with other people who
like it. Software sellers want to divide the users and con-
quer them, making each user agree not to share with others.
I cannot in good conscience sign a nondisclosure or software
license agreement. For years I worked within the Artificial
Intelligence Lab to resist such tendencies. My efforts were
wasted. I cannot remain in an institution where such things
are done for me against my will.

So that I can continue to use computer without violat-
ing my principles I have decided to put together a body of
free software sufficient to enable me to get along without
any software that is not free. I have resigned from the AI
lab to deny MIT any legal excuse for preventing me from giv-
ing GNU away.

Why GNU Will Be Compatible with Unix

Unix is not my ideal system, but it is not too bad. The
essential features of Unix seem to be good ones, and I think
I can fill in what Unix lacks without spoiling them. Furth-
ermore a system compatible with Unix would be convenient for
many other people to adopt.

How GNU Will Be Available

GNU is not in the public domain. Everyone will be permitted
to modify and redistribute GNU, but no distributor will be
allowed to restrict its further redistribution. That is to
say, proprietary modifications will not be allowed. I want
to make sure that all versions of GNU remain free.

Why Many Other Programmers Want to Help

I have found many other programmers who are excited about
GNU and want to help. Many programmers are unhappy about
the commercialization of system software. It may enable
them to make more money, but it requires that they feel like
competitors with other programmers rather than like com-
rades. The fundamental act of programmers is the sharing of
programs; marketing arrangements now in use essentially
forbid programmers to treat others as friends. The pur-
chaser of software must choose between friendship and obey-
ing the law. Naturally, many decide that friendship is more
important. But those who believe in law often do not feel
at ease with either choice. They become cynical and think
that programming is just a way of making money.

By working on and using GNU rather than proprietary
programs, we can be hospitable to everyone and obey the law.
In addition, GNU serves as an example to inspire and a
banner to rally others to join us in sharing. This can give
us a feeling of harmony, which is impossible if we use
software that is not free. For about half the programmers I
talk to, this is an important happiness that money cannot
replace.

How You Can Contribute

I am asking computer manufacturers for donations of machines
and money. I'm asking individuals for donations of programs
and work.

One computer manufacturer has already offered to pro-
vide a machine. We can use more. One consequence you can
expect if you donate machines is that GNU will run on them
at an early date. The machine should be able to operate in
a residential area, and not require sophisticated cooling or
power.

I have found very many programmers eager to contribute
part-time work to GNU. For most projects, such part-time
distributed work would be very hard to coordinate; the
parts, written independently, would not work together. But
for the particular task of replacing Unix, this problem is
absent. A complete Unix system contains hundreds of utility
programs, each of which is documented separately. Most
interface specifications are fixed by Unix compatibility.
If each contributor can write a compatible replacement for a
single Unix utility, and make it work properly in place of
the original on a Unix system, then these utilities will
work right when put together. Even if Murphy creates a few
unexpected problems, assembling these components will be a
feasible task. (The kernel will require closer communica-
tion and will be worked on by a small, tight group.)

If I get donations of money, I may be able to hire a
few people full or part-time. The salary won't be high by
programmer's standards, but I'm looking for people for whom
building community spirit is as important as making money.
I view this as a way of enabling dedicated people to devote
their full energies to working on GNU by sparing them the
need to make a living in another way.

Why All Computer Users Will Benefit

Once GNU is written, everyone will be able to obtain good
system software free, just like air. This means much more
than just saving everyone the price of a Unix license. It
means that much wasteful duplication of system programming
will be avoided. This effort can go instead into advancing
the state of the art.

Complete system sources will be available to everyone.
As a result, a user who needs changes in the system will
always be free to make them himself, or hire any available
programmer or company to make them for him. Users will no
longer be at the mercy of one programmer or company that
owns the sources and is in a sole position to make changes.

Schools will be able to provide a superior educational
environment by encouraging all students to study and improve
the system code. Harvard's computer lab used to have the
policy that no program could be installed on the system if
its sources were not on public display, and upheld it by
actually refusing to install certain programs. I was very

much inspired by this.

Finally, the overhead of considering who owns the sys-
tem software and what one is or is not entitled to do with
it will be lifted. Arrangements to make people pay for
using a program, including licensing of copies, always
impose a tremendous cost on society through the cumbersome
mechanisms necessary to figure out how much (that is, which
programs) a person must pay for. Furthermore, only a police
state can force everyone to obey. Consider the analogy of a
space station where air must be manufactured at great cost:
charging each breather per liter of air might be fair, but
wearing the metered oxygen mask all day and all night would
be intolerable even if everyone could afford to pay the
bill. And the TV cameras everywhere to see if you ever took
it off would be outrageous. It would be better to support
the air plant with a head tax and chuck the masks. Copying
all or parts of a program is as natural to a programmer as
breathing, and as productive. It ought to be as free.

Some easily rebutted objections to GNU's goals

``Nobody will use it if it is free, because that means they
can't rely on any support. You have to charge for the pro-
gram to pay for providing the support.'' If people would
rather pay for GNU plus service than get GNU free without
service, a company to provide just service to people who
have obtained GNU free ought to be profitable.

We must distinguish between support in the form of real
programming and mere handholding. The former is something
that one cannot rely on from a software vendor. If your
problem is not shared by enough people, the vendor will tell
you to get lost. If your business needs to be able to rely
on support, the only way to have all the necessary sources
and tools. Then you can hire any available person to fix
your problem and you will not be at the mercy of any indivi-
dual. With Unix, the price of sources puts this out of con-
sideration for most businesses. With GNU this will be easy.
It is still possible that there will be no available com-
petent person, but this problem cannot be blamed on distri-
bution arrangements. GNU does not eliminate all the world's
problems, only some of them.

Meanwhile, the users who know nothing about computers
need handholding, i.e., they need for others to do for them
the things which they could easily do themselves, but don't
know how to. Such services could be provided by companies
that sell just handholding and repair service. If it is
true that users would rather spend money and get a product
with services, they will also be willing to buy the service,
having got the product free. The service companies will
compete in quality and price; users will not be tied to any

particular one. Meanwhile, those of us who don't need the
service should be able to use the program without paying for
the service.

``You cannot reach many people without advertising, and
you must charge charge for the program to support that.
It's no use advertising a program people can get free.''
There are various forms of free or very cheap publicity that
can be used to inform numbers of computer users about some-
thing like GNU. But it may be true that one can reach more
microcomputer users with advertising. If this is really so,
a business which advertises the service of copying and mail-
ing GNU for a fee ought to be successful enough to pay for
its advertising and more. This way, only the users who
benefit from the advertising pay for it. On the other hand,
if many people get GNU from their friends, and such com-
panies don't succeed, this will show that advertising was
not really necessary to spread GNU. Why is it that free
market advocates don't want to let the free market decide
this?

``My company needs a proprietary operating system to
get a competitive edge.'' GNU will remove operating systems
from the realm of competition. You will not be able to get
an edge in this area, but neither will your competitors be
able to get an edge over you. You and they will compete in
other areas, while benefiting mutually in this one. If your
business is selling an operating system, you will not like
GNU, but that's tough on you. GNU can save you from being
pushed into the expensive business of selling operating sys-
tems. I would like to see GNU development supported by
gifts from many manufacturers and users, reducing the cost
to each.

``Don't programmers deserve a reward for their
creativity?'' If anything deserves a reward, it is social
contribution. Creativity can be a social contribution, but
only insofar as society is free to use the results. If pro-
grammers deserve to be rewarded for creating innovative pro-
grams, by the same token they deserve to be punished if they
restrict the use of these programs.

``Shouldn't a programmer be able to ask for a reward
for his creativity?'' There is nothing wrong with wanting
pay for work, or seeking to maximize one's income, as long
as one does not use means that are destructive. But the
means customarily used in the area of software development
today are based on destruction. Extracting money from users
of a program by restricting their use of it is destructive
because the restrictions reduce the amount that and the ways
in which the program can be used. This reduces the amount
of wealth that humanity derives from the program. When
there is a deliberate choice to restrict, the harmful

consequences are deliberate destruction. The reason a good
citizen does not use such destructive means to become
wealthier is because, if everyone did so, we would all
become poorer from the mutual destructiveness. This is Kan-
tian ethics, or, the Golden Rule. Since I do not like the
consequences that result if everyone hoards information, I
am required to consider it wrong for one person to do so.
Specifically, the desire to be rewarded for one's creativity
does not justify depriving the world in general of all or
part of that creativity.

``Won't programmers starve?'' I could answer that
nobody is forced to be a programmer. Most of us cannot
manage to get any money for standing on the street and mak-
ing faces. But we are not, as a result, condemned to spend
our lives standing on the street and starving. We do some-
thing else. But that is the wrong answer, because it
accepts the questioner's implicit assumption that without
ownership of software, programmers cannot possibly be paid a
cent. Supposedly it is all or nothing. The real reason
programmers will not starve is because it will still be pos-
sible for them to get paid for programming; just not as much
as now.

Restricting copying is not the only means for making a
profit in software development. It is the most common means
because it brings in the most money. If it were prohibited,
or rejected by the customer, software business would move to
other methods of profitmaking that are now used less often.
Probably programming would not be as lucrative as it is now.
But that is not an argument against the change. It is not
considered an injustice that sales clerks make the salaries
that they now do. If programmers made the same, that would
not be an injustice either. (In practice, they would still
make considerably more than that.)

``Don't people have a right to control how their
creativity is used?'' Control over the use of one's ideas
really constitutes control over other people's lives; and it
is usually used to make their lives more difficult. People
who have carefully studied the issue of intellectual pro-
perty rights (such as lawyers) say that there is no intrin-
sic right to intellectual property. The kinds of supposed
intellectual property rights that the government recognizes
were created by specific acts of legislation for specific
purposes. For example, the patent system was established to
encourage inventors to disclose the details of their inven-
tions. Its purpose was to help society rather than to help
inventors. At the time, the life span of 17 years for a
patent was short compared with the rate of advance of the
state of the art. Since patents are an issue only among
manufacturers, for whom the cost and effort of a license
agreement are small compared with setting up production, the

patents often do not do much harm. They do not obstruct
most individuals who use patented products.

The idea of copyright did not exist in ancient times,
when authors frequently copied lengthy extracts from other
authors in works of non-fiction. This practice was useful,
and is the only way many authors' works have survived even
in part. The copyright system was created expressly for the
purpose of encouraging authorship. In the domain for which
it was invented - books, which could be copied economically
only on a printing press - it did little harm, and did not
obstruct most of the individuals who read the books.

All intellectual property rights are just licenses
granted by society because it was thought, rightly or
wrongly, that society as a whole would benefit by granting
them. But in any particular situation, we have to ask: Are
we really better off granting such license? What kind of
act are we licensing a person to do? The case of programs
today is very different from that of books a hundred years
ago. The fact that the easiest way to copy a program is
from one neighbor to another, the fact that a program has
both source and object code, which are distinct, and the
fact that a program is used rather than read and enjoyed,
combine to create a situation in which a person who enforces
copyright is harming society as a whole both materially and
spiritually; in which a person should not do so regardless
of whether the law enables him to or not.

``Won't everyone stop programming without a monetary
incentive?'' Actually, many people will program with abso-
lutely no monetary incentive. Programming has an irresisti-
ble fascination for some people, usually the people who are
best at it. There is no shortage of professional musicians
who keep at it even thought they have no hope of making a
living that way. But really this question, though commonly
asked, is not appropriate to the situation. Pay for pro-
grammers will not disappear, only become less. So the right
question is: Will anyone program with a reduced monetary
incentive? My experience shows that they will.

For more than ten years, many of the world's best pro-
grammers worked at the Artificial Intelligence Lab for far
less money than they could have had anywhere else. They got
many kinds of non-monetary rewards: fame and appreciation,
for example. And creativity is also fun, a reward in
itself. Then most of them left when offered a chance to do
the same interesting work for a lot of money. What the
facts show is that people will program for reasons other
than riches; but if given a chance to make a lot of money as
well, they will come to expect and demand it. Low-paying
organizations do poorly in competition with high-paying
ones, but they do not have to do badly if the high-paying

ones are gone.

``We need the programmers desperately. If they demand
that we stop helping our neighbors, we have to obey.''
You're never so desperate that you have to obey this sort of
demand. Remember, millions for defense, but not one cent
for tribute.

``Programmers need to make a living somehow.'' There
are plenty of ways by which programmers can make a living
without selling the right to use a program. Here are a
number of examples:

+ A manufacturer introducing a new computer will pay
for the porting of operating systems onto the new
hardware.

+ The sale of teaching, handholding, and maintenance
services could also employ programmers.

+ People with new ideas could distribute programs as
freeware, asking for donations from satisfied users. I
am told that several people are already working this
way successfully.

+ Users with related needs can form user's groups, and
pay dues. A group would contract with programming com-
panies to write programs that the group's members would
like to use.

All sorts of development can be funded with a software tax:

+ Suppose that everyone who buys a computer has to pay
x percent of the price as a software tax. The govern-
ment gives this to an agency like the NSF to spend on
software development.

+ But if the computer buyer makes a donation to
software development himself, he can take a credit
against the tax. He can donate to the project of his
own choosing-often, chosen because he hopes to use the
results when it is done. He can take a credit for any
amount of donation up to the total tax he had to pay.

+ The total tax rate could be decided by vote of the
payers of the tax, weighted according to how much tax
they paid in the previous year.

The consequences:

+ The computer-using community supports software
development.

+ This community decides what level of support is
needed.

+ Users who care which projects their share is spent on
can choose this for themselves.

In the long run, making programs free is a step toward
the post-scarcity world, where nobody will have to work very
hard just to make a living. People will be free to devote
themselves to activities that are fun, such as programming,
after spending the necessary ten hours a week on required
tasks such as legislation, family counseling, robot repair,
and asteroid prospecting. There will be no need to be able
to make a living from programming.

We have already greatly reduced the amount of work that
the whole society must do for its actual productivity, but
only a little of this has translated itself into leisure for
workers because so much nonproductive activity is required
to accompany productive activity. The main causes of this
are bureaucracy and isometric struggles against competition.
Free software will greatly reduce these drains in the area
of software production. We must do this in order for techn-
ical gains in productivity to translate into less work for
us.
-------------
Richard Stallman, 166 Prospect Street, Cambridge MA
02139. Copyright (c) 1985 Richard Stallman. Permission is
granted to make and distribute copies of this article as
long as the copyright and this notice appear, and the copies
are distributed at no charge.

Brad Templeton

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Mar 23, 1985, 12:00:00 AM3/23/85
to
I think this quote says it all. I'm glad that I don't think RMS will
succeed. If he gets his way, unix will be the last operating system, as
nobody will upgrade it for a long, long time.

For those who remain unconvinced, look that the clearest free software
example available - news. Because news is free the original authors have
long ago stopped major work on it. Nobody has gotten up the impetus to
change the fundamental concepts, and it has spread far enough with no
control that it's very difficult to try.

My predition is that the utility of GNU will follow closely the path this
network has taken.
--
Brad Templeton, Looking Glass Software Ltd. - Waterloo, Ontario 519/884-7473

D Gary Grady

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Mar 26, 1985, 9:42:05 AM3/26/85
to
Richard Stallman is much to be commended for having enough courage of
conviction to devote such an amount of time and hard work to a very
commendable cause.

I do, however, wish that he would not be quite so religiously adamant
about those who disagree with him. "Intellectual property" is as real
as any other. Why should I expect less of an ownership right to the
fruits of my labor simply because the output is not tangible? Richard
suffers from the common trait of economic naivete. Software is not air.
Why should I be taxed to support the writing of COBOL programs?

Forgive the disjointed nature of the last paragraph - I'm trying to be
brief and I'm afraid I may be making myself obscure. Let me
reemphasize, though, that while I disagree with some of his views, I
applaud his efforts. I'm working on some quasi-public domain stuff
myself (though nowhere near as ambitious) and I think I'm closer to his
ideas than the above might suggest.

How's that for a wishy-washy posting?
--
D Gary Grady
Duke U Comp Center, Durham, NC 27706
(919) 684-3695
USENET: {seismo,decvax,ihnp4,akgua,etc.}!mcnc!ecsvax!dgary

dim...@ucla-cs.uucp

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Mar 27, 1985, 2:25:17 PM3/27/85
to
Mr Brad Templeton recently posted a message on which he said:

"I'm glad that I don't think RMS will succeed. If he gets his way,
unix will be the last operating system, as nobody will upgrade it
for a long, long time."

He goes further, and claims that the news software is not being improved
because it's free.

I don't agree. I think there are plenty of people in the world, and in
this country, that would be glad to work on GNU, for free.

But more than this, I don't like this desire of failure against GNU. Why
not let people build things? I'm sick of seeing those that destroy, which
is far easier. Let the people decide whether GNU is worthwhile!

I which success to GNU, and I hope we all can contribute to it.

Adolfo
///

Brad Templeton

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Mar 29, 1985, 12:00:00 AM3/29/85
to
Indeed, let the people decide about GNU. I don't say it's certain
that GNU will not do good. It could very well. But I made my statements
in the light of some important facts.

The most important is that most people, unlike Richard Stallman, want
good rewards for what they do. While it may be very nice of Mr. Stallman
and his friends to give us all this software, they certainly can't handle
everything.

Sadly, in a market where there is a high quality, high priced product and
an inferior free product, many will use the free product not because it
is the BEST but because it is free. And thus you get the advancement of
inferior products at the expense of superior ones. Of course, this is
from a purely technical viewpoint, as you might argue that the free product
is "superior" in the long run due to the low cost. I know the above rule
from personal experience. I have a $50 programming utility on the market.
There is a free one, modeled after mine, which the author admits is clearly
inferior. Yet I lose many sales to it and piracy, the result being that
I've moved on to other things.

Perhaps RMS can make a superior product, and still keep it free. Good
luck, It's never been done before although it has often been tried.
The reason for this is simple. Designing and bringing up neat new software
is fun, and lots of people are willing to do it for free. Debugging,
maintaining, enhancing and supporting it is NOT, and few will do this
at the same bargain price. Unfortunately, in a quality product, the first
part takes up 90% of the time, and the other part takes up the other 90% of
the time, to bring out the old cliche. But who knows, perhaps they can do
it, and time will tell.

I am not opposed to any quality product, free or not. What I don't like
is inferior products that displace superior products because they were
written by fanatical communists like RMS. (I'm not name calling, I use
these terms as an accurate description based on my mail conversations with
the man.)

And remember, the "quality" of a product must be judged over a period of
time. It may be good to start, but will it stand up? Does it adapt and
suit your needs for a long time? Will people hang onto it long after it
is obsolete just because it is free?

Sam Chin

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Mar 31, 1985, 9:10:00 PM3/31/85
to
<>

"What I don't like is inferior products that displace superior products

becuase they were written by fanatical communists like RMS."

Hey come on, this statement almost degrades to the level of DOCTOR VAX who
has been writing libelious mail to net.apple. I have been using GNU emacs
for a few days now and it is great. RMS and company are certainly good
programmers and I certainly have faith in them producing a decent GNU. GNU
emacs is at least as powerful as commercial versions of emacs which sell for
thousands of dollars. We are not looking at dinky $50 dollar utilities (I
know, I wrote some during weekends when I was bored and sell them too) but
at a major programming effort whose distribution source is about 3
megabytes. Besides, with all the big guys around, and the incredible number
of existing software companies, most of the small guys are doomed anyway
unless they have something *really really* innovative - just ask wall street
or any venture capitalist. Perhaps we shall see a reemergence of free
software after the big software shakeout. Personally, if I wrote another
package which was between "useful" and "good", I would probably give it away
free or freeware. If I wrote something "truly wonderful", then I would weigh
trying to sell it commercially but even then with todays competition, I
would have about a 10% chance of survival.

Sam Chin
allegra!cmcl2!acf4!tsc2597
tsc2597.acf4@nyu

William Chops Westfield

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Mar 31, 1985, 10:54:46 PM3/31/85
to
The greatest benefit of RMS's GNU ideas may be just getting a lot of
volunteer hackers working together on the same things (the usual case
is that there turn out to be 200 different PD communications programs,
and so on, all of fairly mediocre quality).

With GNU take over the software market? Never. It just isn't possible
to provide the sort of support that naive user require without charging
a decent amount of money for your program. Sure, RMS says that this isn't
true in his manifesto, but he is wrong. I don't think RMS has ever had
to deal with really large populations of users. Consider his current
successes:

1) EMACS. ITS/TENEX EMACS is a good example of RMS's ideal piece of
software. User written. User modified. Free. Constantly
improved and improving. One of the most complex, powerful,
and easy to use editors around. It's concepts have been
copied in many comercial products. Many, many hours of
volunteer labor have gone into its development...

So what's wrong? Well, for one thing, EMACS has been 15
years or so in the making. The fact that it constantly
changes is more of an annoyance than a feature to many
sites. New features have taken precedence over things
like efficiency... EMACS runs on DEC20's. DEC20s
are an interesting machine. There are two PD Operating
systems you can run. (maybe 3?). Almost all of the
useful software you can run is PD. Why is this? Well,
first is that there aren't all that many 20's. Second
is that a lot of them are linked together by the DoD
ARPANet. DoD funded programs are by definiton free to
other DoD contractors. The net makes sharing software
easy. The 20 is a popular university computer, generating
even more free software...

2) LMI Lisp machine Software.
I don't know much about this. I suspect the LMI lisp machine
grew up in an environment similar to that of DEC20s.

The problem is that I suspect that there were more apple macintoshes
sold durring the christmas season than there are DEC20s and LMI lisp
machines put together, total! Another point is that all that donated
programmer time was in many cases paid for by the programmers current
employer. A university or a DoD site, and a lot of companies are
quite willing to have a programmer spend a bunch of hours improving
the editor. And then the changes get sent back to everyone else,
so that THEY can make improvements. Things may change when the
majority of people using the software DO NOT contribute to its
development or improvement.

BillW

Juha I. Heinanen

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Apr 1, 1985, 10:24:57 AM4/1/85
to
Brad Templeton writes:

>I am not opposed to any quality product, free or not. What I don't like
>is inferior products that displace superior products because they were
>written by fanatical communists like RMS.

There are two comments I can't resist to make after reading Brad's
article and the above quote in particular.

First, based on my experience with both CCA Emacs and Gosling's Emacs,
there doesn't exist superior, well supported commercial Emacs that the
GNU Emacs would be likely to displace. On the contrary, in the DEC
world there are thousands of very happy users of RMS's free Emacs who
would be surprised to hear that in the Unix world you have to pay for
the similar, but in many sense inferior, product.

Second, I don't think that Brad's opinion of RMS as a fanatic communist
is appropriate. Contrary to the common American belief, every non
capitalist is not necessarily a communist. I don't personally know RMS,
but rather than being a fanatic communist, he seems to be much closer to
an idealistic software anarchist in the most positive meaning of the
word.

Juha Heinanen
{ut-sally, akgua}!usl!jih

Sam Hahn

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Apr 1, 1985, 12:07:58 PM4/1/85
to
Let's see... To me it looks like where there is a high quality
product, and there is an IBM product, many will use the IBM product
not because it is the BEST but because it is IBM. And thus you get
the advancement of IBM products at the expense of superior ones.

Let's separate the issue of technical superiority from the issue of
whether you must PAY for the product. One can knock a PD program for
its quality/lack-of-quality, but there are enough examples of superb
software in the public domain that any attempt to generalize based
only on the statements I've seen recently are at best incomplete.
Look at ZCPR, MEX, various disk utilities, Kermit, BYE, various
Forths, compression utilities, XLISP, and who know what else I've left
out in this list that's come just from a quick mental scan.

What support have I received from REAL products?? I've paid DRI and
its associates over $1200.00 for the various OS products I've bought,
but when upgrading from MP/M816 to ConcurrentDOS, I've lost. MP/M
isn't a real products any more. Great, I'm out of luck, and am FORCED
to go to ConcurrentDOS. Have they ever replied to my suggestions for
improvement and consolidation of features from 3.0, -86, -816, not to
mention ORIGINAL suggestions? No.

What has Sorcim done for me? They tell me that upgrading from
SuperCalc to SuperCalcII costs $125.00, is what they tell me. This
when I can order SuperCalcII for $149 or so from mail order houses.
Is this support?

I could go on for many pages (and Kbytes). I've had better response
from Ron Fowler, who's on the net, regarding MEX, than I've ever had
from my REAL software products. I've had better help from my user
groups in setting up PD software than I've ever gotten from software
houses. The sources to PD software is often available, and that means
a LOT in terms of the support that's possible to obtain.

I personally plan to contribute to RMS's GNU effort as soon as I
finish my master's project here at HPP.

-- Sam Hahn
-------

Werner Uhrig

unread,
Apr 2, 1985, 1:45:54 AM4/2/85
to
Where is the readnews- and mail-option that I can set to avoid reading
anything more originating from Brad? For the time-being, I'll simply
exercise my 'n-key' - and I hope that I don't tempt any of you to add such
a feature to the news- and mail-software, especially "for free": someone is
likely to call you a Communist and that is still (again?) a dangerous thing
to be called in this country, may the facts substantiate the statement or not.

Too much said already -

PS: bye, Brad. please ignore my last request to
post a list of your software products; I won't read it.

john chapman

unread,
Apr 2, 1985, 10:04:34 AM4/2/85
to

Brad Templeton writes:
> Indeed, let the people decide about GNU. I don't say it's certain
> that GNU will not do good. It could very well. But I made my statements
> in the light of some important facts.
>
> The most important is that most people, unlike Richard Stallman, want
> good rewards for what they do. While it may be very nice of Mr. Stallman
> and his friends to give us all this software, they certainly can't handle
> everything.

There are an awful lot of people running bbs's at their own expense -
no reward financially (in fact it costs them money), just performing
a public service - these systems contain an awful lot of free
software as does usenet. If people get software they want for free
from others they are also quite likely to distribute some of their
own free as well.


>
> Sadly, in a market where there is a high quality, high priced product and
> an inferior free product, many will use the free product not because it
> is the BEST but because it is free. And thus you get the advancement of
> inferior products at the expense of superior ones. Of course, this is
> from a purely technical viewpoint, as you might argue that the free product
> is "superior" in the long run due to the low cost. I know the above rule
> from personal experience. I have a $50 programming utility on the market.
> There is a free one, modeled after mine, which the author admits is clearly
> inferior. Yet I lose many sales to it and piracy, the result being that
> I've moved on to other things.
>

This does not seem any different to me than someone deciding between
the features of a $150 item and a $200 item - you look at what you
get for the extra $50 and decide if it is worth it. Apparently most
people thought your program wasn't worth $50 for it's extra features;
this is hardly a reason to decry the spread of free software.

> Perhaps RMS can make a superior product, and still keep it free. Good
> luck, It's never been done before although it has often been tried.
> The reason for this is simple. Designing and bringing up neat new software
> is fun, and lots of people are willing to do it for free. Debugging,
> maintaining, enhancing and supporting it is NOT, and few will do this
> at the same bargain price. Unfortunately, in a quality product, the first
> part takes up 90% of the time, and the other part takes up the other 90% of
> the time, to bring out the old cliche. But who knows, perhaps they can do
> it, and time will tell.

Two points:
1. as pointed out in the "manifesto" if there is demand (and there most
likely will be) for support & enhancements then companies will
spring up to provide this. Perhaps you should volunteer to help
him with the project thus becoming a gnu wizard, you would then be
able to open a nice profitable business offering gnu support services.
2. craftsmen who produce products to be given away generally put a lot
of effort into what they produce - they have pride in it; on the
other hand business writes software to make $$, it doesn't have to
be good it just has to sell - if you find a bug and it only affects
a small percentage of the potential customers you're not likely to
see it fixed quickly (if at all).


>
> I am not opposed to any quality product, free or not. What I don't like
> is inferior products that displace superior products because they were
> written by fanatical communists like RMS. (I'm not name calling, I use
> these terms as an accurate description based on my mail conversations with
> the man.)

It is really unlikely that an inferior product will replace a superior
product unless the "superior" product is overpriced (or perhaps not
considered really superior in the eyes of the purchaser). Since I
don't know what your mail conversations have been like I don't know
if RMS is a communist or not but it certainly does sound like you are
name calling - whether he is a communist or not you are certainly
using it as a perjorative. Perhaps from now on you should be referred
to as a fanatical capitalist....


>
> And remember, the "quality" of a product must be judged over a period of
> time. It may be good to start, but will it stand up? Does it adapt and
> suit your needs for a long time? Will people hang onto it long after it
> is obsolete just because it is free?

It seems to me that they would be more likley to hang on to obsolete
software if they had paid a lot for it than if it was free. In the
event that you are correct though:
I suggest we institute a corp of software police (to protect
all those poor misguided users out there of course). They can perform
surprise searchs and if they find someone using outdated software they
will confiscate it and force the hapless user to buy new shiny and
expensive software to replace it (maybe you could make a deal with
them?).


> --
> Brad Templeton, Looking Glass Software Ltd. - Waterloo, Ontario

John Chapman

Disclaimer: the above is not the view of my employer, friends, family
dog, myself, anyone known to me (living or dead) nor that
of any fictional character in book I have ever read.

Liz Sommers

unread,
Apr 3, 1985, 2:12:12 PM4/3/85
to

>
>First, based on my experience with both CCA Emacs and Gosling's Emacs,
>there doesn't exist superior, well supported commercial Emacs that the
>GNU Emacs would be likely to displace. On the contrary, in the DEC
>world there are thousands of very happy users of RMS's free Emacs who
>would be surprised to hear that in the Unix world you have to pay for
>the similar, but in many sense inferior, product.

Just a note: Unipress has come out with a completely new version of
Gosling Emacs. Check it out before you put it down. Gosling Emacs can no
longer be considered an inferior product. I have been using it in both
alpha and beta test and now prefer it to RMS ITS Emacs which I also use
everyday.


> >Second, I don't think that Brad'sopinion of RMS as a fanatic communist

>is appropriate. Contrary to the common American belief, every non
>capitalist is not necessarily a communist. I don't personally know RMS,
>but rather than being a fanatic communist, he seems to be much closer to
>an idealistic software anarchist in the most positive meaning of the
>word.
> > Juha Heinanen > {ut-sally, akgua}!usl!jih

RMS is a pretty close friend. He is not a communist. He is a
self-proclaimed anarchist. Some of his ideas are pretty buggy, but his
software rarely is. The people who are doing everyday support are also
good.

Gosling EMACS and GNUmacs have different niches. RMS is not interested in
doing a lot of support work, he is interested in developing software and
having the users support it. Unipress has a staff dedicated to supporting
Gosling Emacs. (Yes, I know they didn't use to, but things DO change). If
you want to take the time to do ALL your emacs support yourself, then
GNUMACS might just be the thing for you. You just have to realize that
bug reports will probably be answered with "Well, what is the fix?" A
number of sites outside of universities do not have the time or personel
to cope with this method of support.

As a second point, soon you will be able to run Gosling Emacs on ALL your
machines, using the same mlisp files. This can be real nice if you, like
me, might work on 5 or 6 different machines a week. I hate remembering
"what is the name of the command on THIS machine?"

I have been Alpha testing the new Gosling Emacs for the AT, using it very
extensively for both text and programming. The old bugs that made it
unusable are mostly out. Will report on it in another message.
--
liz sommers
uucp: ...{harvard, seismo, ut-sally, sri-iu, ihnp4!packard}!topaz!sommers
arpa: sommers@rutgers

John Woods

unread,
Apr 4, 1985, 1:17:50 PM4/4/85
to
> written by fanatical communists like RMS. (I'm not name calling, I use
> these terms as an accurate description based on my mail conversations with
> the man.)

I know Richard. Fanatical, yes. Communist, certainly not. Check your
mailer to see if it is Huffman encoding messages in and out of your site.

>
> And remember, the "quality" of a product must be judged over a period of

> time. ... Will people hang onto it long after it


> is obsolete just because it is free?
>

Sadly, rather likely. Just like they hang onto bad software just because it
is IBM, or because they have a huge investment of their time in it, or any
number of other reasons for not paying for new software. Some of these
reasons would also cause them to hold onto software they've purchased even
when a superior free package comes out, too.

I doubt you have a number for how much money you lost to free software and
software pirates, as neither effect is honestly quantifiable. I have no
idea how you r[ua]n your business, but when I buy software, I wish to receive
support which is better than that which I could do myself (and given its
existance, I will buy software). If you are going to worry about software
which is quite inferior but free, remember that you also have competition from
software that is slightly inferior and slightly less expensive than yours,
as well as software that is markedly better and much more expensive (as well
as better/less expensive, and worse/more expensive...).

It may just be the nature of the software business that it is quite difficult
to come out with an expensive piece of software whose functionality truly
eclipses any free software, even given the propensity for non-maintenance.
Compare it to the auto industry: very few people can practically build their
own cars (and they don't grow on [conference] trees :-). But that is hardly
the fault of people who write free software.

--
John Woods, Charles River Data Systems, Framingham MA, (617) 626-1101
...!decvax!frog!john, ...!mit-eddie!jfw, jfw%mit...@MIT-XX.ARPA

You can't spell "vile" without "vi".

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