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I wish I could be hyped by WASM

published on 2023-12-13T02:00:00Z, last updated on 2023-12-13T02:01:00Z

WASM, a language-agnostic bytecode format oriented for Virtual Stack Machines, could sound great and part of me really wishes I could like it. After all I have loved how with Java I could just compile once on Linux and get friends to use the resulting program on Windows without touching this hell of a system.
But I know it's simply not going to be great, binary portability is doomed to hurt platforms by peer-pressuring them to support programs that are either badly written or plagued with alien APIs making the whole thing run badly to sometimes not at all.
Java also doesn't always works everywhere, Minecraft on OpenSolaris had non-working audio and if I remember correctly also didn't have working multiplayer support, and on slightly untypical platforms you often end up with lacking the native binaries to support LWJGL, it would be a joke if it weren't so sad.

It's a harsh reminder of why I'm part of those who refuse to provide support to non-libre software: Without the legal and practical means, one cannot provide support without crippling their own ecosystem to work around bugs in applications that would otherwise be easily fixed and likely benefit everyone.
Because if all you have are programs without the both the practical (source code) and legal means (libre) to make lasting modifications, bugs simply stay.

Why is the original DOOM and it's wide ecosystem of WAD files and modified engines, still striving after 30 years?
They opened the source code of the software while it was still alive (same thing for other games released by Id Software).

Meanwhile Flash games effectively died and are only slowly getting somewhat revived via the massive effort that is Ruffle. And only having a libre VM doesn't exactly helps, as can be seen by how dead Java Applets and J2ME applications are.

And yes most of this article is about games, because I almost never used proprietary software that weren't video games and/or web applications. Web applications being rather special, because even if they are libre we typically do not have the technical means to deploy local modifications (one notable exception being the Fediverse).
WASM effectively is stuck to preventing us from controlling the programs we use and rely on.

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