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Re: more evil firmwares found

@ 22/04/2004 23:01 : wrote Ryan Underwood :

*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.
The argument Nataniel used with me is: yes, any stream of bits. And I changed my mind, I am tending to agree with him.

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
The answer to those questions are:
1. yes, a PNG is software;
2. if it's .EPS source is not included, and it's clearly a vectorial artwork and the .EPS or .SVG would be the preferred form for modification, and the original EPS/SVG is not automatically decompilable by the PNG, so it is NOT source, and hence not DFSG-free; even if this is not really my opinion, it seems to be the dominant opinion here;
3. a WAV is software;
4. if it's rendered by such instruments, then it's "contrib" material, if you have the original .MIDI; 5. and 6. I'm not familiar with Csound, but it still seems contrib material; could be "non-free", tough.

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.
I think (and this was the consensus here, apparently) that the definition of software is "the ethereal thing that makes the computer go; or the opposite of hardware". Google says (numbering mine):

   1. A computer program, which provides the instructions which enable
   the computer hardware to work. System software, such as Windows or
   MacOS, operate the machine itself, and applications software, such
   as spreadsheet or word processing programs, provide specific
   www.getnetwise.org/glossary.php <http://www.getnetwise.org/glossary.php>

   2. Computer programs; instructions that make hardware work. Two main
   types of software are system software (operating systems), which
   control the workings of the computer, and applications, such as word
   processing programs, spreadsheets, and databases.

   3. Sets of instructions or data that tell a computer what to do.
   Software is often divided into two categories: system software,
   which includes the operating system (e.g., Windows 95, MacOS) and
   all utilities that enable the computer to function; and applications
   software, which includes programs that perform specific tasks (e.g.,
   word processors, spreadsheets, and databases).
   iet.ucdavis.edu/glossary/ <http://iet.ucdavis.edu/glossary/>

   4. A computer program or set of instructions. System software
   operates on the machine itself and is invisible to you. Application
   software allows you to carry out certain activities, such as word
   processing, games, and spreadsheets.

   5. Anything that is physical and tangible--your monitor, printer,
   any disk drives, mouse, and even the chips inside the computer
   itself--is hardware. Anything you can't touch--all of the
   operations, programs, and files on your computer--is software. Back
   to Top

   6. The computer program instructions used to tell a computer what to

   7. The programs, or set of instructions, that tell the computer what
   to do.

   8. A program or set of instructions that controls the operation of a
   computer. Distinguished from the actual hardware of the computer.

   9. The programs written by the user or computer manufacturer that
   control the operation of the computer.

   10. "The programs or instructions that tell a computer what to do."
   This includes operating system programs which control the basic
   functions of the computer system (such as Microsoft's Disk Operating
   System--"MS-DOS" --that controls IBM-compatible PCs) and
   applications programs which enable the computer to produce useful
   work (e.g., a word processing program such as WordPerfect).

   11. The digital instructions executed by the computer in RAM. They
   may act on the hardware that is attached to the computer. Examples
   would be a BASIC or Pascal program, an assembly language routine to
   read a clock, or a disk operating system. Since software is executed
   in RAM, it disappears from memory when the computer is turned off.

   12. SW computer programs

   13. the programs (instructions) that tell the computer what to do

   14. Computer programs and computer databases. Note: Although some
   definitions of software include documentation, it is now limited to
   the definition of computer programs and computer databases.

   15. The generic term for computer programs that computers use to
   perform actions.
   www.btbmf.co.uk/glossary.html <http://www.btbmf.co.uk/glossary.html>

   16. Programs used on a particular computer system. ERIC and PsycLit
   are examples of CD-ROM software programs.

   17. means the instructions executed by a computer. Software comes in
   two main types - system software and application programs. System
   software is any software that supports the production or execution
   of application programs but which is not specific to any particular
   application. Application programs include word-processing packages,
   multimedia authoring packages etc. More help…

   18. A computer program, which provides the instructions to the
   computer hardware. System software, such as Windows 95 or MacOS,
   operate the computer itself. Application software, such as web
   browsers and word processing programs, provide additional

   19. Computer program(s) that cause a computer or microprocessor to
   carry out particular operations.

   20. Hardware is your computer itself: the machine and its parts.
   Software is what you use with your machine to make it fun and
   interesting. There are many different kinds of software, some of
   which are for work, some for play, some for kids, and others for
   adults. If you ever bought a computer game on a disk and brought it
   home to play on your computer, you have used software. The computer
   game you bought is software, and so is the word processing program
   you might use to write school reports.
   www.bpl.org/kids/Glossary.htm <http://www.bpl.org/kids/Glossary.htm>

   21. Programs needed to operate a computer. There are two major types
   of software: system and application. System software consists of
   programs to control the operations of computer equipment, including
   how to perform the functions of loading, storing, and executing an
   application. For a computer to operate, an operating system must be
   stored in the computer's main memory. Application software consists
   of programs that tell a computer how to produce information; this
   includes software for word processing, spreadsheets, and graphics.

   22. A computer program or set of computer instructions. System
   software operates the computer itself. Application software allows
   you to carry out certain activities, such as word processing, games,
   and spreadsheets.

   23. computer programs
   www.amrc.org.hk/Arch/3408.htm <http://www.amrc.org.hk/Arch/3408.htm>

   24. Computer programs.

   25. A generic term for computer programs, including systems programs
   which operate the computer itself, and applications programs which
   control the particular task at hand.

   26. (computer science) written programs or procedures or rules and
   associated documentation pertaining to the operation of a computer
   system and that are stored in read/write memory; "the market for
   software is expected to expand"

That is, it's definitions go from the most specific (23, 24) to the most generic (interesting ones, that apply to the sense people seem to prefer here: 5, 20; ones that can be stretched to mean that, too: 3, 13).

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.

I posted something that was refuted in this point: the interpretation that goes here seems to be: Debian is comprised of nothing but hardware; We promise to make all of it free; it's not all free today, but we are trying. Ah, and non-free is not part of Debian.

And by interpreting software as "the opposite of hardware", they are right, Debian is no hardware.


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