> > > Where exactly does GCC fit into the mix, making this impossible?
> > 
> > They compile Lisp (etc) to a C file, which they compile (with gcc) to
>                                                               ^^^
> actually with as(1), because gcc is only generates assembler file,
> which is then translated into the object file by assembler (as).
> Assembler by itself is part of binutils, not a compiler suite.

I suspect Richard Tobin was using the generally accepted
meaning for a "compiler" as one that translates a source
program into object code (machine language).  In any case, it
is cc1 that generates an assembly file.  gcc is just a driver
program that calls various subprograms.

Richard's main point with which I totally agree is that
please do not take away the ability to generate and grok
a.out files *if at all possible*.  A number of Lisp systems
as well as Scheme one use ld -A & friends to do what he
described.  In general, please do not break backward

Seems to me that most of the FreeBSD developers are not heavy
3rd part software users.  Consequently they (the developers)
do not realize that even when sources are available it is not
always easy to update them to support changes that break old
code -- due to lack of time or money or inability or
inexperience to change the 3rd party software or whatever.
When sources are not available, you are up the proverbial

You may say just continue running old freeBSD kernels but the
constant stream of security fixes makes hard to justify doing

IMHO what is needed is a strong voice for the *users* (along
with hackers/developers) in influencing the direction FreeBSD
takes -- right now if you don't hack FreeBSD code, you don't
get listened to very much.  This is like letting a builder
build a house, or worse, letting an architect design a house
without input from the people who are going to live in it
["trust me, you want a 4000 sq ft house on your 4500 sq ft
lot, with humongous walkin closets, tiny bedrooms, a big
master bathroom with large french windows in the shower (so
what if it is facing your neighbor's living room windows only
10 ft away)"].

In a commercial setting it is the user who ultimately pays
the development costs so they do get listened to (or the
company dies).  As an example, on a modern SGI machine you
can still run 20 year old binaries -- providing such
compatibility is a pain and not pretty but to long time
users' their "dusty decks" are very valuable.

Unfortunately there is no such direct back-pressure in the
open source community and developers usually don't have a
long term view.

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