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GNU Visual Basic

Richard Stallman, leader of the Free Software Foundation and the GNU Project, today announced the first developers release of GNU Visual Basic.

“It’s been nagging at me for years,” Stallman told freshmeat news correspondent Jeff Covey, “Why do I keep clinging to lisp? Lisp of all things? I mean, who even writes in lisp any more? Look at all that lisp code the AI community churned out for years and years -- did it get us closer to a machine that’s any smarter than a well-trained bag of dirt? It’s just time to move on.”

Last year, Stallman started looking around at the alternatives. “We’ve abandoned Scheme, and will slowly be removing Guile from all our projects over the course of this summer. We had to find an extension language to replace it. I looked at Perl, Python, Eiffel, LOGO... even at TCL.”

“Then one day I was in a doctor’s office and I saw the receptionist running all these neat macros in her word processor. I investigated further, and came to realize that this was exactly what I was looking for -- a language already in widespread use that would come with its own user base. We just had to clone it, and there would be a whole community right there ready to use it. I started work on it that night, and it’s consumed most of my time in between speaking engagements ever since.”

The first large project which will adopt GNU/VB will be one of Stallman’s most famous works, the GNU/EMACS editor.

“Preliminary work is complete on our elisp-to-GNU/VBscript converter,” Stallman said. “Once all the .el files in the EMACS distribution have been converted to .gvb files and tested, the next release of GNU/EMACS will be extensible only in GNU/VBscript. I realize this will cause some preliminary inconvenience to our users, but they’ll have to accept that they can’t stand in the way of progress.”

While Linus Torvalds has declined to comment at this time on the question of whether the Linux kernel will be rewritten in GNU/VB, other GNU developers have been enthusiastic in their support of Stallman’s decision. GNOME project leader Miguel de Icaza declared this “the groundwork for a monumental leap forward for the GNU desktop”. Reached by IRC, he said, “We’ve been coordinating with the GNU/VB team for months to create the GNU/VB bindings for GTK+, and are very excited about the features it will allow us to incorporate into our work. Take AbiWord, for instance. In the next release, whenever you open a Word document, any VBscript macros found in it will be automatically executed. You can imagine how powerful this will be in combination with the GNOME address book and the mail clients. This compatibility with the Windows desktop will give us an edge that we think will help us to finally overtake that other desktop environment.”

“Look, will people stop DCCing me the DeCSS code? I’m trying to talk here,” he concluded.

As a homage to the authors of Microsoft Visual Basic, Stallman has decided to depart from his usual practice of releasing software under the GNU General Public License; the GNU/VB compiler (gvbc), the GNU/VBscript interpreter (gvb), and the GNU Foundation Classes will be available in binary format only, and will not be available for download from the Internet.

“More and more, I go into stores like CompUSA and Best Buy, and I see shelves filled with ‘Linux This’ and ‘Linux That’,” Stallman said. “Why aren’t we getting any of that action? Distributing GNU/VB strictly as shrinkwrapped software will not only lend an air of legitimacy that software can’t have when it’s free, it will get the GNU brand name out there to the general public. It may even get us to my ultimate dream -- seeing a box with ‘GNU’ on it on the shelves at Walmart.”

The GNU Project welcomes any developers who wish to participate in beta testing the upcoming builds; anyone interested should contact gnu@gnu.org to request a copy of the Non-Disclosure Agreement.


This article was originally published on Freecode (formerly known as Freshmeat) on 1 April of one year. It was since misplaced there. This is a copy of it that is placed here for posterity. It was not written by me (= Shlomi Fish).