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Re: could matlab-mode be in ELPA or the GNU emacs tree (like auctex and

From: Stefan Monnier
Subject: Re: could matlab-mode be in ELPA or the GNU emacs tree (like auctex and org-mode)?
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2021 19:00:14 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/29.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Uwe Brauer [2021-11-20 18:53:08] wrote:
> That however changed a while ago: Mathwork not only renounced its
> copyright, they explicitly asked us to remove any reference to it from
> all the files, which we did.
>     1. Git blame (or hg annotate for that matter) told me that currently
>        the code belongs to only 4 authors, of whom 3 have signed the FSF
>        papers, and the other one is in the process of doing so.
>     2. There is another point that worries me: According to the
>        changelogs at some points the maintainers committed patches from
>        other authors, but in their own (the maintainers name).

Regarding point 1: the output of `git blame` does not tell the whole
story (if you reindent or move code, `git blame` will only list you as
the author even tho the real author is the one who write that code
before you moved/reindented it).

It's not irrelevant, but it's not sufficient to decide if the copyright
is clean.

Point 2 is also another example where Git metadata (not just `git
blame`) needs to be double checked, indeed.

> However, before addressing this problem, I would like to know:
> Could matlab-mode become part of ELPA or even could dwell in the GNU
> emacs tree?

Very good question.  I think it would be acceptable in GNU ELPA or Emacs
(the legal&philosophical issues are the same for both) *if*
`matlab-mode` can be used meaningfully without proprietary software
(i.e. without Matlab).

I think it's a big "if".  Maybe a more interesting/promising path might
be to split the part of `matlab-mode` that also makes sense with Octave
and try to add/include/merge it into `octave-mode`, and then turn
`matlab-mode` into an extension on top of `octave-mode` that's dedicated
to supporting the bits of Matlab that aren't in Octave (that
extension won't be included in GNU ELPA nor Emacs, obviously).

> I know that matlab is a commercial product and its license is not
> compatible with the GPL, but the same could be said about MS Windows OS
> and MacOS and yet GNU Emacs support these OSs.
> It would benefit the users of matlab who wish to use GNU Emacs for coding.

Indeed, it's not completely black or white.  You may want to ask RMS
whether this gray is rather dark or light.


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