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GNU is Not Unix Programming

Sixteen Years Later: GNU Still Needs An Extension Language 425

Fresh from the 2011 GNU Hackers Meeting, Andy Wingo has written a long piece on the status of Guile Scheme, the woefully underutilized official user extension language of GNU. Wingo argues that Guile is the best choice for extension in GNU given the ability of Scheme to adapt to change over time. Presented with using e.g. Javascript instead of Scheme for its popularity: 'We should also consider the costs of using hastily designed languages. JavaScript has some crazy bad stuff, like with, var hoisting, a poor numeric model, dynamic this scoping, lack of modularity regarding binding lookup ... Finally, we have the lifespan issue. If GNU had chosen Tcl because it was popular, we would have a mass of dead code' (it should be noted that Guile does partially support Javascript syntax). With the proliferation of Firefox extensions, Greasemonkey, etc. it is clear there is a large set of power users who want to modify the programs they use without spending years becoming skilled programmers. Perhaps after Emacs has been ported to Guile the philosophy of user extensibility will spread to other parts of the GNU system.
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Sixteen Years Later: GNU Still Needs An Extension Language

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  • Re:Lua? (Score:4, Funny)

    by jockm ( 233372 ) on Wednesday August 31, 2011 @11:39AM (#37265136) Homepage

    Working on being the core term. Not have, not encouraging people to use, not bragging about compatibility, but working on. Wake me when it is ready, like their JavaScript support. It will make a nice break from waiting on Hurd.

  • Re:Lisp? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 31, 2011 @11:56AM (#37265368)
    Unlambda would a better choice in my opinion, it has all the features and none of the cumbersome syntax.
    Lisp is but a remnant of an age with far too much LSD and Napalm.
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday August 31, 2011 @04:00PM (#37268506) Homepage Journal

    (Besides a few hardcore geeks, (people (hate (shit that (looks) like ((this))))))

    I'm reminded of an old joke. In the former Soviet Union, an operative was talking to his boss. The boss asked the operative if they were able to learn anything from the intercepted transmission of U.S. missile control software. The operative informed him that they had only managed to capture the last two pages, and although they didn't know anything about the code, they knew what language it was written in. The boss asked him how he knew what language it was written in, whereupon the operative told him it was written in either LISP or Scheme, and then showed him the paper, which contained an entire page of:


The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky