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Re: GNU Prolog Project

From: Roberto Bagnara
Subject: Re: GNU Prolog Project
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 15:30:05 +0200
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Daniel Diaz wrote:
Dear Roberto,

I'm sorry you are disappointed by GNU Prolog. It is true that I cannot devote as much time as I'd like to GNU Prolog. Since many years I have a lot of other duties together with some personal constraints which seriously limit the amount of "free time" I can devote to GNU Prolog. I'm the first to regret this situation.

However, saying GNU Prolog is unmaintained, is clearly exaggerated. I have released a stable version in January fixing several bugs and including new ports. I collect all bug reports and, when I have enough time, I fix some of them and release a version. But I mainly spend the little time that I have to design the next version (V2). This version will be a big step forward but will need deep code rewritings. Thus I try to set up a stable development team (4 developers would be nice) for this new version.

Again, I'm sorry GNU Prolog no longer satisfies you but this does not justify the aggressiveness of your post.

Dear Daniel,

what aggressiveness are you talking about?  Perhaps you refer to the
fact that I said that in the archives of this list and of address@hidden
there are several bug reports to which the official maintainer did not even
bother to reply?  But I can prove this: I sent the same bug report (against
different versions of GNU Prolog) on 19/10/2004, 22/12/2004, 06/07/2005
and 10/13/2007;  and the official maintainer did not even bother to reply
(not even a reply of the form "noted it" or "will fix it as soon as I have
time" or "here is a workaround" or "please provide me with a patch"...
nothing at all, something that I consider not very polite).  Not to talk
about the bug concerning registers and the foreign language interface.
I have no doubts that the official maintainer may have very good reasons
for this behavior, but the logical consequence is that GNU Prolog is,
according to the meaning I personally give to the words, essentially,
i.e., as a matter of facts, un-maintained.  I do not mean to be aggressive,
only to call things and situations with what, in my opinion, is their name.

By the way, I am glad to know (only now) that you are actually collecting
bug reports: I would have appreciated a one line message saying that
in 2004.

I develop and maintain GNU Prolog for free as an open source product expecting it helps some users.

This is not the point: we are all volunteers and develop software for
free as open source or free software products.  This does not mean
that we don't have any obligations with respect to other people: for
example, if we encourage people to submit bug reports we should feel
compelled to at least acknowledge them in some way.  I would put
it the other war around: given that we are volunteers, given that
no one is pushing us to do anything, there are no excuses for not
doing things properly.  If I cannot or do not want to deal with bug
reports for my projects I can simply stop soliciting them or
even state that I do not wish to receive them;  I can post
a request for help and appoint someone else as the "bug manager";
I can step down as a maintainer;  I can promote a more open development
model; ... silently ignoring but reports is definitely not my only option.

It clearly not your case, I thus suggest you to use other "better, maintained, supported systems", "some of them may be what you are looking for" (sic).

I do, thanks: I use SWI-Prolog for all my Prolog projects.  But,
in order to serve my users, I need to maintain a couple of components
that interface to GNU Prolog.  Since I am a volunteer, I could simply
remove GNU Prolog from the list of supported systems.  However, the
way I see it, I believe I have obligations with respect to my users
and to the GNU Project (on which I believe very much [*]) and I will not
do it unless absolutely necessary.


I appreciate your sincerity.
All the best,


[*] There are other Prolog systems that, in my opinion, are not really
    maintained, by the way.  However, since their name does not begin
    with "GNU", I care less;  I think that, even if they do not
    treat users and bug reporters the way they deserve, this will not
    affect the reputation of the GNU Project.

Prof. Roberto Bagnara
Computer Science Group
Department of Mathematics, University of Parma, Italy

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