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Re: more evil firmwares found

On Wed, Apr 21, 2004 at 02:23:11AM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> > If you want to be more serious, there is the FPGA example. Is a
> > *hardware* definition software? AFAIK, a FPGA definition (which may be
> > very well what you are loading) is just "hmm, connect this port's output
> > in input #1 of this other port, etc, etc, etc."
> Duh, of course the *definition* is software.  Any stream of bits is
> software.

*Any* stream of bits?  I think that's going a bit far.  I think you are
confusing the algorithm with the input.  The input is not software.  It
cannot be executed on a machine.  An algorithm can operate on a binary
string input, but the input cannot cause the machine to act outside of
what behavior is defined in the algorithm.

Is a PNG file considered software?  Is it not DFSG-free if the source
.EPS is not included?  What about a WAV?  It was rendered from a
non-free commercial soundfont set which nevertheless places no
restriction on the distribution of digital audio works rendered with
that set.  Is it non-free because it doesn't include the source
instruments?  What if the instruments were described in software ala
Csound?  Then we need not only the source instruments for the wav, but
the Csound code for the instruments, in order to not have a non-free

This is ridiculous.  Extending the definition of software past "a set of
formal instructions for a general purpose computing device, that
describe an algorithm that runs on the device to transform an input
string into an output string", is not productive IMO.

This is a problem when you take into account the social contract.  It
states that Debian must remain 100% free software.  The implication,
depending on how you read it, is either that "Debian is comprised of
nothing but software, and all of it is free"; or that "all software
contained in Debian is free".  Those are two quite different claims that
can be derived from the same statement.  It is ambiguous and should be
revised, because I doubt anyone could make a convincing case that Debian
is comprised of nothing but software.  That seems to be the
interpretation that many folks are running with though.

Ryan Underwood, <nemesis@icequake.net>

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