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Re: Ceasing the emacs-snapshot effort?

Selon David Kastrup <dak@gnu.org>:

> Jérôme Marant <jmarant@free.fr> writes:
> > While contributing to maintainership of the emacs21 package, it
> > became more and more obvious to me that maintaining lisp modes
> > within Emacs is not an easy task: upstream fixes bugs in the CVS
> > trunk and since years separate stable Emacs releases, modes are
> > diverting which makes this task difficult.
> Well, the solution, of course, is to release more often.  It is not
> like the problem of stable releases and backports and so on is exactly
> unknown to Debian.

Releasing more often is the ideal solution. Providing more bugfix
releases would fullfil my/users needs as well. See further.

> > Yesterday, I took the opportunity to participate to a thread in
> > which I expressed the idea of releasing the core Emacs and others
> > lisp modes separately in order to provide users with bugfixes more
> > often. Hence, waiting for the next stable release would be painless
> > for both users, and us, maintainers.
> >
> > Unfortunately, it quickly ended with this message from RMS:
> >
> > http://www.opensubscriber.com/message/emacs-devel@gnu.org/1445574.html
> You have to be aware that there are rather few Emacs developers, and
> an inordinate time is spent getting Emacs into releasable state.  You
> are proposing to distract developers by having to cater for code (and
> we are talking hundreds of packages here), cater for backports, not
> make use of Emacs features _for_ _years_ that are introduced for the
> sake of making code easier to write, and so on.


> If that would have seemed feasible, then Emacs-22 development would
> not happen on the CVS trunk, but rather in a separate branch.  We are
> going forward and don't have the resources to maintain an outpost in
> the past.

Thank you very much for clarifying. I more awae of the situation
than I used to be. RMS's reaction was not cristal clear and it
is understandable.

> > Some will say I deserved it.  Maybe.
> I think that RMS' reaction was somewhat overblown.  However, this sort
> of detraction and bickering and demands to keep Emacs development
> nailed to Emacs-21 have long been discussed and choices have been
> made.  Questioning them every month anew as if nothing was already
> said about them, is not productive.  Also keep in mind that RMS has a
> busy schedule with partly patchy Email access.  And that means
> sometimes discussions and proposals which he'd otherwise shoot down in
> a minute develop a life of their own, waste a lot of time and effort
> over days, only to be closed down afterwards.  And if he is of the
> opinion that he already shot down an unfruitful discussion, and still
> people waste more days about it, it does not help his mood.

Even after what he said, I'm not even angry at him.

> > I'm just surprised about such a reaction from someone who mentions
> > Free Speech as an analogy to Free Software.  I would never have
> > imagined that expressing ones opinion would lead to being considered
> > as a threat to the development of Emacs.
> All the backport and back compatibility worries of a separate package
> management have not had the most convincing results with XEmacs, which
> often features barely working, decrepit packages.  And not being able
> to use new XEmacs core features in those packages without risking
> breaking earlier XEmacs installations is not good, either.  It means
> that bug workarounds need to stay (and be maintained) for longer than
> desirable.

I knew that RMS hates package systems such as the one from XEmacs
so I certainly did not want to propose this.

What I thought was a good idea was to have non-core packages in
a separate CVS module, shipped altogether in a single tarball,
updated more frequently and to be unpacked at regular
locations. No package system involved.

But I since your clarified that backward compatibility is a least
priority, there is no point mentioning this again.

> > After all, I already managed to send modest patches to improve the
> > build process.  Would an Agent of Destruction even do that?
> He did not claim you were acting out of malice.  Most projects die
> from the inside.

I understand.

> > Now, the question is how I should interprete "Please stop
> > interfering with Emacs development"?  Are my (even modest)
> > contributions nor interventions not wanted any more? In that case,
> > there is no point for me to keep on working on emacs-snapshot.  I
> > don't know him very well, so I'm just wondering.
> Actually, RMS is rather discouraging investing too much work into
> emacs-regular, like backporting, trying to get changes into Emacs CVS
> for the sake of Emacs-21.4 and so on.  So if you want to take his
> advice personally, it would more likely cause you to quit work on the
> "regular" emacs package rather than emacs-snapshot.

I have one additional requirement which is satisfying Debian users as
much as possible. I can't tell them that they have to wait more years
before seeing their bugs fixed (I don't blame emacs-devel).
So, I have to do a backport work when possible.

> The basic message is: upstream Emacs development does not have the
> resources to support backports to Emacs-21 in any manner, and should
> not be bothered about it if possible.  Questions are ok, I guess, but
> expensive discussions about going backwards are not really
> appreciated, and you must not expect backport considerations to make
> it into the CVS code: we have enough problems going forward, and that
> is where the priority lies.

Do you remember I proposed to take care of bugfix releases with interested
people? Many patches against 21.3 are sent to bug-gnu-emacs and are ready
to be applied as is. I think we can add more resources for this. RMS
was no against even, IIRC.


Jérôme Marant

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