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Re: more evil firmwares found

On Fri, Apr 23, 2004 at 04:15:53PM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> > the Csound code for the instruments, in order to not have a non-free
> > dependency.
> This has been explained.  :-)


> 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".

What is stupid is to refer to things that are not programs as programs.
If DFSG meant that the source code for "every single bit" in Debian
needs to be made available, then it should have made that statement,
rather than adopting the much more sensible approach of requiring source
for each "program" to be made available.

> > depending on how you read it, is either that "Debian is comprised of
> > nothing but software, and all of it is free";
> Yes.
> > 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.

You're right.  So go with the former interpretation.  DFSG#2 requires
all programs to have source code available.  There is a typical and
obvious division between a program and its supporting materials.  My
claim is that only through a massive logical leap can we declare the
supporting materials to fall under the definition of "program" as well.
This leap is what is required to remove a freely licensed albeit
indeterminate binary-blob from Debian on a DFSG basis.

In case I haven't made this clear:
Software = Program + Supporting Material

Does someone have a better definition?

> 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".

I've been following this discussion but must have missed that one;
please link me.

> 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.

That is exactly my point.  I don't feel like such a proposal would be
welcomed though.

> > 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.

Either way, DFSG#2 cannot be construed to apply to such things even in
the strictest of readings.  Most of the Social Contract refers to
"software", where DFSG#2 refers to "program".  Why the verbal
distinction if there was not an intent for there ever to be a
distinction in practice?

Ryan Underwood, <nemesis@icequake.net>

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