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GNU-Friends: Interview with Karl Berry

Mar 09, 2002, 00:12 (0 Talkback[s])
During your time with the FSF, you also helped out to get Autoconf to successfully configure TeX, which I'm sure was no small task, and you also did some work on Ghostscript. What's your strongest memory from working with the FSF?

Although those projects were fun and valuable, my strongest technical memory is actually working on regex.c. POSIX was standardizing regular expressions at the time, and we implemented about 10 different drafts as the committee came out with new ones, while keeping compatibility with Emacs and all the other programs that used it. It was a nightmare. We ended up with regex.c having as many lines of debugging statements as actual code, just so we could understand what it was doing.

I've since looked at a bunch of other regex packages and it seems basically impossible to implement the regular expressions we've grown used to in any reasonable way.

My strongest nontechnical memory is rms's vision of free software and how clearly he communicated it and how strongly he held (and holds) to it. It was and is an inspiration to me."

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