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Protesilaos Stavrou

by Devin Ulibarri Contributions Published on Jul 25, 2023 03:41 PM
Protesilaos Stavrou, who goes by "Prot," is a GNU Emacs contributor, philosopher and life coach, and winner of various awards, including the 2021 Free Software Award for Outstanding New Free Software Contributor.
Protesilaos Stavrou
Protesilaos Stavrou (aka "Prot")
Cyprus, Greece
Private coach on GNU Emacs, GNU/Linux, and life
Project Contributions:
  • Modus themes for GNU Emacs
  • Denote simple note-taking tool for GNU Emacs
  • Ef (εὖ) themes for GNU Emacs
  • and more

My motivations for working on GNU Emacs

My motivations for working on GNU Emacs are practical and ideological.

In terms of practicality, GNU Emacs provides the missing layer of interactivity on top of Unix-y tools. We have a uniform, text-centric interface to the computer, which we can configure and/or extend in a consistent way with the GNU Emacs Lisp programming language. My GNU Emacs setup gives me the best integrated computing environment I have ever had, because I can draw linkages between individual interfaces while reusing code/patterns already established for the rest of GNU Emacs. For instance, a function to indent the selected text in Vim does not automatically become available for text controlled by Tmux. Whereas in GNU Emacs editing and viewing text inside windows are part of a continuum. The consistency of the gestalt form provided by GNU Emacs is not available to the user when they piece together a system out of disparate Unix-y tools.

On the ideological front, GNU Emacs embodies the virtues of software freedom and is, in my opinion, the epitome of a GNU user-facing application. GNU Emacs works in such a way as to make the software freedoms poignant and relatable. It does not simply give us rights, but empowers us to exercise them. For example, we can read the documentation of some function and follow a link in the context straight to the source code. Changes made to the code become readily available, making it easy for the user to both modify the source and better understand the freedom bestowed upon them to make and distribute such modifications. These technicalities depend on the strong documentation culture of the GNU Emacs community, showing us the connection between technical requirements and interpersonal values. I learned to program in GNU Emacs Lisp by using its self-documenting facilities and immediate feedback loop of GNU Emacs Lisp evaluation. As such, supporting GNU Emacs is a way of demonstrating that software freedom is not confined to legal arrangements, as it extends to areas of usability. I want all my contributions to be as accessible as possible within their given scope.

More info

An accompanying article was published as part of the FSF's Working Together series, which we highlighted as part of our 2023 Spring Fundraiser.

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