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Re: Futile bug reports?

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: Futile bug reports?
Date: 17 Aug 2001 12:07:28 +0200
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 08:02:25 +0000
User-agent: tin/1.4.5-20010409 ("One More Nightmare") (UNIX) (Linux/2.0.35 (i686))

Ryan Yeske <address@hidden> wrote on Thu, 16 Aug 2001 23:57:00 GMT:
> address@hidden (Alan Mackenzie) writes:

>> Richard Stallman <address@hidden> wrote on Thu, 16 Aug 2001 15:30:53 -0600:

>> > Our policy is that this list should not be used to publicize *any*
>> > non-free manuals, or any non-free software.  It makes no difference
>> > whether there is a free replacement (or, if there is one, who
>> > distributes it).

>> We recently had a discussion along these lines in gnu.emacs.help.

>> The conclusion I reached was that, although free software is
>> invariably better than its restricted counterparts, free tutorial
>> documentation is usually less good than (the best of the) commercially
>> published alternatives.  Why this should be would likely make a good
>> PhD thesis.

>> I think the above stated policy is misguided - Instead of shunning
>> such books as (?)idealogically unwanted, you could embrace them as
>> _enhancements_ to free software.  This would help free software, such
>> as emacs, to get accepted by more people than otherwise would.  This
>> is surely in accordance with the aims of the FSF.

> Free software needs free documentation.

> If you "embrace" the use of non-free documentation then you discourage
> the creation of free documentation.

Can you cite any evidence to support this contention?

> You cannot make an exception based on the quality of the non-free
> documentation or how much it might help increase the acceptance of the
> free software it describes.

Once upon a time, a group of skilled programmers received a gift of a
laser printer.  It was like manna from heaven, printing clean legible
output at a speed which took their breath away.  But it bugged the hades
out of them, because it was always jamming.  Then one afternoon, a bright
young novice announced to his colleagues: "Hey, don't sweat it!  I've
just seen a book which fully documents the printer driver, and it's only
$25!  It'll take us a couple of hours at most to get the printer to
scream at us when it needs fixing. :-)"  At which point the chief
programmer intoned in a dark booming voice "HOW DARE YOU THUS SPEAK!!

> Ryan

Alan Mackenzie (Munich, Germany)
Email: address@hidden; to decode, wherever there is a repeated letter
(like "aa"), remove one of them (leaving, say, "a").

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