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Stallman issues Porto Alegre clarification

Relax, and support GNOME again please

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Richard Stallman has written to us about comments made on the .NET/GNOME controversy, reported by Brazilian tech site HotBits and cited here thanks to a translation provided to us by HotBits, Stallman asks de Icaza to explain himself to the community.

Not so, says RMS, who says the remarks were misreported. We reproduce his email in full here:-


Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 07:57:28 -0700 (MST)
From: Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org>
To: andrew.orlowski@theregister.co.uk
cc: robin@roblimo.com
cc: hp@redhat.com
Subject: Corrective letter to the register

Letter to the Register

Your article about me, GNOME and .Net was inaccurate starting from the title. Those quotations which are accurate are taken out of context, leading to total misunderstanding. Here is what really took place.

A person in the audience asked me what I thought about Miguel's changing the license of GNOME to the X11 license. Such a change for
GNOME has not occurred and is not planned, since it would go against GNU Project policies. But Ximian did make such a license change for Mono, which is not a GNU package. So I figured the questioner had read the Mono license change announcement and then misremembered it as referring to GNOME. I said so, but I tried not to be harsh about it.

Your quote

I can't believe it's Gnome[sic] you're talking about but if it is, I wouldn't like that, looks like something from the middle of that response.

I said explicitly that I thought he was remembering the Mono license change which actually had occurred, but that part was not quoted in the article, nor was the question itself.

You also wrote

Stallman only learned of de Icaza's intentions to slip the Mono project
- based on Microsoft's .NET framework - into Gnome as "the natural
technology upgrade" when asked by the audience.

That is not true--I knew about that already; anyway, that was not what we were talking about. The questioner persistently maintained that
the license change was for GNOME, not Mono, and I continued to respond to that. When I said something like

"I didn't know he was doing that, I find that very hard to believe," he said.

I was still replying to that assertion. I doubt that quote reflects my exact words, though.

I still don't believe that GNOME has been changed to use the X11 license.

I am pretty sure something was garbled in the quotation which has me asking Miguel to "explain himself to us", because those words would be
explicitly confrontational, and I did not have any wish to do that.

It would make no sense to have a confrontation over a supposed action which I knew, and was saying, had never occurred.

GNOME, and GNU as a whole, have always had a policy of supporting as many languages as possible. "Whatever languages users wish to use,
GNU should support," is the way I generally put it. This is why I eagerly encouraged the development of GNU Fortran, despite having vowed in 1970 never to use that language again myself. GNOME should certainly support .NET programs and C# programs, using DotGNU by preference since that is a GNU package; supporting Mono as an
alternative C# implementation would be ok too. I don't think there is any real dispute about this. A free replacement for Visual Basic which works with GNOME would be a major step forward; any capable team that wants to launch this project should please contact gnu@gnu.org.

I don't think we will decide to rewrite GNOME to be "based on" .NET, though. We will continue wanting to support a wide variety of languages, and it is unlikely to make sense to rewrite the base
libraries and major applications of GNOME into C#. I hope that the readers who reacted sharply to the idea of such a fundamental redesign will relax and begin supporting GNOME again.

Another misleading point in the article was the reference to GNOME as an "open source project."

The Open Source Initiative has the right to
define a criterion for open source and note the fact that GNOME fits it, but GNOME has no connection with them. GNOME, like the GNU Project as a whole, is part of the free software movement. GNOME is a free software project par excellence, because it was started in 1997 as a defense against the threat to our freedom posed by the (at the time, since changed) non-free license of Qt.

The very existence of GNOME is the direct result of our ideals of freedom, precisely what the open source movement was founded in 1998 to reject.

Sincerely

Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation


We've been promised a tape and a transcript of the Porto Alegre Q and A.

Miguel de Icaza has issued his own clarification, here, which also amounts to "move along folks, there's nothing to see".

On Friday he repeated his desire to base future GNOME development on the .NET APIs using work from his Mono project.

".NET is a fantastic technology upgrade for GNOME from Microsoft," he said.

In the interview, he praised many aspects of .NET including SmartClients and the new Microsoft security model. ®

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