clang vs free software

Ruben Safir
Sat Nov 22 16:57:00 GMT 2014

Helmut Eller <>:
> > If nobody bothers with even
> > considering the question, it would appear that it is not all that
> > important...
> Maybe nobody bothers because using clang is easier than to fight with
> FSF policies.

<<Which is pretty close if not identical to my original point.

The clang people aren't just a technical challenge to GCC, they're a
philosophical/political one to the FSF as well.  They are explicitly
reacting, and positioning themselves publicly against, what they
consider FSF over-control.>>

It is never a good idea to exclude political and social ramifications
from the software design and use decisions...

It so happens that over the long hall, the free software ends up being
technologically superior....most often.  But this is besides the point.

<<The clearest possible statement of this is in Chandler Carruth's talk
"Clang: Defending C++ from Murphy's Million Monkeys" (all over
YouTube) in which he explains "why we set out to build another C++
compiler" by beginning with this question posted to the gcc list: "is
there are reason for not making the [GCC] front ends dynamic
libraries which could be linked by any program that wants to parse
source code?"

Carruth then quotes RMS: "One of our main goals for GCC is to prevent
any parts of it from being used together with non-free software.
Thus, we have deliberately avoided many things that might possibly have
the effect of facilitating such usage..."

Carruth then says, exasperation very obvious in his voice, "This is
a *useful answer*!" (about 3:42 in the video). >>

Clearly this is a complete break off now of the BSD community but there
is another half of this story, because the platform that most of us have
gotten compfortable with over the last decade is now being flanked on
several levels for which the compiler keychain is maybe just the last
straw.  I think it might be necessary in the near future to just break
with the current "Linux" platform altogether, and maybe rebuild a BSD
based system with the FSF tool kit and start there as a new base.

<<Thus, the clang project.
want to build IDEs and other tools that share the compiler's code.  GCC 
policy won't let them do that.  Ergo, GCC must be kicked aside.

The clang developers are demonstrating that they have the capacity to
good on this threat.  clang is not a toy or a laboratory demonstration;
is a real, production-quality compiler with some significant advantages
GCC.  Much more useful error messages is one; a newer generation of
optimization leading to smaller, tighter code is another; and much
compilation is yet another.>>

It is just another compiler in order to make non-free software.  It is
the free software platform as a whole that is being seriously strained.

<<The "Clang vs Other Open Source Compilers" page admits that "GCC
supports more targets than LLVM" and "GCC supports languages that
clang does not aim to", but these are not stable advantages given the
technical strength of LLVM and the large amount of developer
commitment clang now has.

I'm not pointing out these facts to argue with the FSF's past decisions,
but to ask "What are you going to do now?"  

More of the same will not serve.  GCC is in near-term danger of losing
its dominance in open-source C development; I would say the danger is
imminent if not that people are innately conservative about major

Uh huh.  You know what, it won't matter with UEFI and if systemd
continues to absorb the entire GNU toolkit.  It is not just BSD that
will no longer have GNU/Roots.... The GNU/Linux is almost dead in its
own right.

<<to their toolchains.  The other shoe will drop when a major Linux
ships with clang as its default compiler; I could easily see this
before the end of 2015, followed by a cascade of me-too defections.

To keep its #1 spot, GCC needs to out-improve and out-compete clang.
And not just on the technical level, either. "Using clang is easier
than to fight with FSF policies" indeed.  Unless that changes, GCC's
future is as a legacy tool, a backwater that developers are exiting
as fast as is practical.>>

[QUOTE]"I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be

You must be a stupid engineer then, because politcs and technology have
been attacted at the hip since the 1st dynasty in Ancient Egypt. I guess
you missed that one." [/QUOTE]

Right now, it is hard to find a distribution that functions, and they
have less GNU tools on them every day.

As I've said before, I don't personally care who wins; either tool
will serve my needs.  I would prefer to see both flourish and 
compete with each other. But that's not where things are heading  
unless GCC ups its game.>>

That won't even scratch the surface.  Consider this...

UEFI puts a operating system between you and your hardware.  Without a
secure boot, it is a security flaw...outright.  WITH a secure boot, it
is no better than the Apple Appstore because you can't change the
binaries and expect them to be signable.

And then you have systemd, which is eating every peice of GNUtoolkit it
can find, and then some.  In fact, systemd is nearly a shelless
operating system, and it certain doesn't need GCC, or the GNU toolkit.
In fact, it smothers the need for a toolkit since all the hackable parts
are being rounded up.  It's stated goal is to make all distriubutions

Boy, this is a F$$$thyylking innovatoin if I ever saw one.  Who needs a
compiler when you have a locked down Operating System that you have to
beg for a TCP Socket from.

And then there is android, and Chromium, the browser that spies on you
(and YES the free version DOES spy on you), and Firefox 
feels like it is dieing...

Java and MYSQL were eaten by Oracle....

This is not a bright time in the world.  I feel earnestly bad for the
youngsters growing up in this, and that includes my children and

There is a need for some bold action.  But fixing GCC for some marginal
improvements at best... it needs to be done.  It always needs to be
done.  But we need something else as well.


So many immigrant groups have swept through our town
that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological
proportions in the mind of the world - RI Safir 1998 

DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002 - Leadership Development in Free Software - Unpublished Archive - coins! 

Being so tracked is for FARM ANIMALS and and extermination camps, 
but incompatible with living as a free human being. -RI Safir 2013

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