Re: GNU Extension Language Plans

John Ousterhout (
21 Oct 1994 18:04:36 GMT

(sigh... here we go again)

I'd like to respond to an error in Richard Stallman's latest posting.
Stallman said:

Sun recently announced a campaign to "make Tcl the universal
scripting language." This is a campaign to convince all the
developers who *don't* prefer Tcl that they really have no choice.
The idea is that each one of us will believe that Sun will inevitably
convince everyone else to use Tcl, and each of us will feel compelled
to follow where we believe the rest are going.

Please understand that this "campaign" exists only in Stallman's mind.
As far as I know there has never been *any* official Sun announcement
about Tcl. There is no campaign at Sun to stamp out Tcl competitors;
Tcl and Tk aren't even official Sun products right now, nor has Sun
made a commitment to turn them into products (yet). If anyone has
concrete evidence to back up Stallman's accusations, please post it
so we can all see it.

The only information I recall from Sun about Tcl is a couple of job
listings and one or two personal messages from me, which were intended
to keep the Tcl community informed about what my group is doing and
to solicit input. I believe that these messages were posted on
comp.lang.tcl only; if the goal had been to browbeat people who dislike
Tcl, the messages would have been posted where Tcl haters would see them.

Of course, I hope that someday Tcl and Tk will become Sun products (and
also products at many other companies), but I think that this will
*increase* the alternatives available to people, not decrease them.
I also hope that Tcl and Tk will become a universal scripting language
for the Internet, but I hope to do this by making Tcl and Tk so attractive
that people *want* to use them, not by somehow preventing people from
using alternatives. I don't see how such a negative campaign could work

If there has been a negative campaign, I daresay it has come from
Stallman. After all, who posted a message that used half-truths to
try to convince people not to use a particular system, without even
providing a viable alternative?

Fortunately, I found the rest of Stallman's message, where he began
the process of designing a new scripting language, more encouraging.
I just hope that he and those who work with him can focus on the
positive process of developing what they think is a better scripting
language, rather than a negative process of accusation and

The saddest thing about all of this is that the UNIX community
continues to bicker about silly details such as whether a programming
system can be considered to have linked lists if it doesn't have a
garbage collector too, while Microsoft steadily increases its market
share and makes us irrelevant. If you're looking for a company that
really knows how to squash its competition, you should look farther