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Re: more evil firmwares found

Ryan Underwood wrote:

> 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
> dependency.
This has been explained.  :-)

> 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'm not extending the definition; I'm using the old-fashioned general
definition.  The definition you're using here is synonymous with "computer
program", an older and unambiguous term.   The word "software" was, I have
been told, invented specifically to describe not just that, but also all
the other stuff on the computer which wasn't hardware.  And it's a useful
word, for which there is no other word; it's stupid to use it as a synonym
for "program".

> 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". 
I've explained elsewhere, repeatedly that that is *not* a valid
interpretation.  English just doesn't work that way.  Do a careful parsing
of the statement:

Debian (will remain) (100% Free Software)

There's simply no valid way to read that in the way you've described.

If it said
"Debian will remain 100% Free Computer Programs", would you interpret that
as meaning that Debian would be full of stuff which wasn't computer
programs?  No, you wouldn't.  (Well, you shouldn't, anyway!)

> Those are two quite different claims that
> can be derived from the same statement.  It is ambiguous and should be
> revised,
It's not ambiguous in *that* way, as I mention below.  It is ambiguous in a
different way, because there are two meanings for "software" in common use,
as we've just discussed.  Therefore Andrew Suffield's proposed amendment
eliminates the word "software".

If you want the Social Contract to mean that "all computer programs
contained in Debian are free software", *please* propose an amendment to
make it *say* that.  Oddly enough, nobody has.

> because I doubt anyone could make a convincing case that Debian
> is comprised of nothing but software.
Yes you can; you just have to use the classic definition of software --
"that which isn't hardware".  This is what Bruce Perens meant when he wrote
it, he's said.

>  That seems to be the
> interpretation that many folks are running with though.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

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