[Python-mode] merging python-mode.el and python.el

Dave Love fx at gnu.org
Wed Jan 28 02:17:17 CET 2009

Beverley Eyre <fbe2 at comcast.net> writes:

> But, it was my 
> understanding, based on my readings of rms' stuff, that 'free' software 
> is free so that people who care to can change the code.

Partly, yes.

> More, they can distribute this altered code to all and sundry as long
> it remains 'free'.

You should re-read rms, and read the GPL and probably the licensing area
of the GNU web site.

> After all, Dave, we're not doing anything that you haven't 
> done.

I've never knowingly (or even inadvertently, as far as I know) violated
a free software licence -- rms' archetype here -- which is what you seem
to be advocating,

> Here's the first few lines from the python-mode-map variable from 
> *your* python.el code:
> (defvar python-mode-map
>   (let ((map (make-sparese-keymap)))
> ;; Mostly taken from python-mode.el     <<<<<<<==============!!!!!
>    (define-key map ":" 'python-electric-colon)
>     ....

You're arguing interfaces are copyrightable??  (In which case
python-mode.el would have a problem.)  Even if I copied a significant
amount of code directly -- which I didn't, unless you want to argue
against legal advice and case law -- the python-mode.el licence would
allow me.

> Also, here's one of your comments from the 'inferior-python-mode' section:
> ;; Fixme: This should inherit some stuff from `python-mode', but I'm
> ;; not sure how much: at least some keybindings, like C-c C-f;
> ;; syntax?; font-locking, e.g. for triple-quoted strings?

I've no idea what that's about -- objecting to me calling the function

> Our 'merge' effort isn't different in any way from the spirit of your 
> comments in your own code, nyet?

The words `apples' and `oranges' come to mind.  If you want to argue
copyright, you should consult a lawyer, like rms does.  (I'm not a
lawyer, but I hope what I say is consistent with the FSF's legal advice;
if not, I'd like to be corrected with a proper reference.)

> Secondly, it seems as if your main objections center around the question 
> of which mode will be included in distributions of GNU Emacs.


> And you 
> aren't going to include anything in Emacs which hasn't been legally 
> assigned to FSF, which I can understand. But it also sounds like you are 
> saying that any software 'borrowed' from some GNU Emacs 'assigned' code 
> can't be distributed unless it is also assigned to the FSF. Am I 
> misunderstanding you?

Yes, you are misunderstanding.  You merely need to abide by the licence.
The FSF publishes guides to such things.  I think it's all under

> There's no real reason why GNU should have to write a python mode (or
> a ruby mode, or a mode for any new language that comes down the
> pike).

Indeed, and `GNU' didn't write it, or ask me to.

> It seems more natural for python (or ruby or...) folk to do so.

I'm sorry I'm not in your club, but I think understanding Emacs is most
important thing for contributing language support (assuming the language
is sufficiently well-defined and it doesn't require large amounts of
non-Emacs support code).  `Python folk' haven't supported recent Emacs
-- as opposed to XEmacs -- or even the latest version of Python as far
as I can tell.  That's perfectly OK, just as me doing it is.

> As things stand now, both python-mode.el and python.el need work. Both 
> have good stuff and bad stuff, imo.

I'll probably at least fix clear bugs and omissions (apart from XEmacs
support) in python.el that I hear about.  I'll also listen to
_well-informed_ opinion about possible mis-features.

> I know you agree with this, based on 
> comments you yourself have made, (e.g. in the comments you make in the 
> python.el header section you say that python-mode.el is "not well 
> maintained. " 

It says `[...] maintained for _Emacs_'.

> Ok, if you think that's so, then you can't reasonably 
> object to an effort to maintain and upgrade it.

Please don't put words in my mouth.  All I'm actually objecting to is
potential copyright violation.  If you insist on copying code from Emacs
in violation of the licence, you'll end up on the wrong side of the FSF
`compliance lab' (ugh).

> As far as your code 
> goes, the number of your 'fixme's speak for itself.)

The number doesn't say anything per se, even if they are all mine that
you're looking at.

> I'm wondering what the rms of 25 years ago would say if a lot of legal 
> wrangling and copyright issues were standing in the way of a handful of 
> programmers trying to get together to improve some code which they use 
> all the time?

That's a pretty bizarre thing to lecture me about.

Copyleft (Ɔ) All rights reversed.  — Don Hopkins

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