Re: Inconsistencies in our approach
On Thu, Aug 07, 2003 at 07:46:19PM -0500, John Goerzen wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 07, 2003 at 11:00:02PM +0100, Andrew Suffield wrote:
> > > Actually, my goals are the opposite. I see it as intellectually and
> > > logically dishonest to claim certain requirements for some types of
> > > non-program data in Debian, other requirements for other data, and do it all
> > > under the guise that "everything binary is software."
> > What requirements, exactly, do you think are being made of some things
> > and not of others?
> I see us requiring RFCs to be mutable, but ignoring the fact that we
> distribute the GPL, which is not. I see this as also being contradictory
> with many of the arguments against the FDL.
The feeling is that the GPL is metadata as far as our distribution is
Yes, this is the same argument that is made by RMS in favour of invariant
sections in GFDL'd documentation.
I believe that it is acceptable for the GPL to be distributed.
I believe that were people happy that invariant sections in GFDL'd documents
were really going to contain only metadata, and not grow and become seriously
inconvenient, then it is possible that a majority would agree that that
particular element of the GFDL did not pose any problem as far as the DFSG
I believe that a lot of people who are anti-GFDL would do well to read it
more carefully (hell, I bet some haven't read it at all), particularly in
respect of what may and may not be contained in a secondary section.
I still think that the GFDL is problematic and that use of it should be
discouraged. I'm not, however, convinced that the invariant sections are
as big a problem as we (and I) first thought.
> timeframe. Simultaneously, we allow texts like the GPL, which fail if one
> applies the same rules to them, into the distribution.
Well, I think it might be as well to provide an example of this, and
reasoning, along with the DFSG for the sake of clarity.
> > We have not, to date, had any difficulty in interpreting the DFSG as
> > applied to documentation, excluding the lunatic fringe who appear,
> I think that the persistence and size of this thread provides more than
> enough evidennce to debunk that claim.
I think that the majority here, people who have longer experience with
computers, and every dictionary I've looked it up in so far all support
our understanding that software is more than just programs, and in fact
includes everything we distribute.
Just to add another nail to the coffin of the "documentation is not software"
brigade, from Merriam-Webster's dictionary:
Pronunciation: 'soft-"war, -"wer
: something used or associated with and usually contrasted with
hardware: as a : the entire set of programs, procedures, and related
documentation associated with a system and especially a computer
system; specifically : computer programs b : materials for use with
So, those of you still arguing that documentation is not software:
1) You are in a minority
2) The dictionaries disagree with you
3) Anyone who remembers what "firmware" is will disagree with you
Please, give up already.
> My comments are not limited to the FDL debate, but seek to address a more
> fundamental question: Do software guidelines serve us well for non-software
> items? My answer is no, but obviously it is being discussed.
Well, no, but we don't distribute anything that is not software, so that's
Perhaps we should include an example definition of "software", quoting from
a reputable dictionary on the GFDL web page?
> It seems *very* similar to the RFC problem.
No, because it's only people who spend too much time reading this list who
are likely to labour under the misconception that Debian is about distributing
software licenses rather than software itself.
Nick Phillips -- firstname.lastname@example.org
It's all in the mind, ya know.