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There was recently a bit of a kerfuffle over RdRand.
Matt Mackall, kernel hacker and Mercurial lead dev, quit Linux development two years ago because Linus insulted him repeatedly. Linus called Matt a paranoid idiot because Matt would not allow RdRand into the kernel, because it was an Intel CPU instruction for random numbers that could not be audited. Linus thought Matt's paranoia was unwarranted and wanted RdRand due to improved performance. Recently Theodore T'so has undone most of the damage, but call RdRand still exist in Linux. I do not understand exactly if there are lingering issues or not.
open source adj. [first published, on the Internet on 8 February 1998, by E. S. Raymond in a revised version of his paper ‘The Cathedral and the Bazaar’; ‘[the term] was invented by Christine Peterson of the Foresight institute at a private meeting I ran a few days earlier’ (E. S. Raymond, private communication)] Computing (chiefly attrib.) designating software for which the original program files used to compile the applications are available to users to be modified and redistributed as they wish. 1998 InfoWorld 2 Mar. 75/4 ‘The popularity and success of Apache, the Linux operating system, the BSD version of Unix, and many other software applications prove the value and impact of open source development’, Linux creator Linus Torvalds said in Netscape's statement. 2003 Wired May 125/2 The chip king is hardly a stern taskmaster, giving only the most general directions to faculty. Much of the work is released open source, and wild tangents are encouraged.
If you have a citation that goes a centuries earlier than this, you should notify the OED about how this term has been in use for that long.
I didn't say that gcc is "closed", or non-free, as it were. There is no imperative to make sure free software is easy and convenient for all possible uses. For instance, I do not have a moral obligation to make sure the free software I create is easy to compile on Windows. Modularity is nice, but not an essential feature of free software. All that you really need is the source code, the preferred form of modification, and with that you can exercise the required freedoms. You can fork off gcc if you want. In fact, gcc is a fork, a fork called egcs that got branded back into gcc, as you well know.
Also, you seem to be suggesting that rms is a tyrant here for not allowing gcc to be modularised. Unlike a real tyrant, nobody has to actually listen to rms. If enough people wanted to do so, they could all abandon GNU, fork off gcc, do whatever they wanted with it, modularise it, and call it something else, yet again.
GNU is supposed to be a free operating system as well as a group of people working towards building this OS. To a casual observer, however, GNU does not appear very active. Some of the most prominent and supposedly GNU packages, such as Gimp, Gnome, GTK+, and R are mostly GNU in name only. The hackers working on these projects have very little interaction with other hackers working on GNU projects and they very frequently espouse views contrary to GNU's philosophical aims. Thus to an outside observer, GNU does not appear to be a cohesive group of people working towards a common goal. Many GNU mailing lists being private further the public perception that GNU is not even actively producing software anymore.
What can be done to remedy this situation? How can we strengthen GNU, make it reach out again to the people it's supposed to be freeing?
Although GNU and the FSF's views are often thought to be exactly the same as yours, they are not. GNU and the FSF are many other people and although they overall have the same aims, individuals associated to each organisation may deviate slightly from your views.
The FSF right now is pretty indepenent from you. John Sullivan is actively leading it, but there are other very public members of the FSF. It has become independent from you, even if you're still the president of the FSF. Unlike its beginnings, the FSF is also no longer primarily concerned with creating free software, but rather it is now involved in campaigning for free software. Social activists mostly aligned with your views have replaced the hacker majority in the FSF.
GNU has no such clear independence. You have the final say on aything that happens in GNU, such as for example usinng bzr as a DVCS for Emacs, a choice of dubious tactical advantage that has generated much discontent. You have nevertheless vetoed any dissent on this topic. Your health is apparently deteriorating, and I hesitate to think what will become of GNU when you die.
Is there any clear path for the future governance of GNU you in the same way that the FSF has done this?