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Re: Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge

On Thu, 2004-04-29 at 16:44, Michael Poole wrote:
> Stephen Ryan writes:
> >> The entire point of the recent GR was that some Debian developers and
> >> users use "software" as the rest of the world uses the word, and
> >> exclude things like fonts, images, or statistical data.
> >
> > I'm with Branden on this one: *every* single person arguing for a more
> > restricted definition of software is a "W4ReZ d00d".  
> That is very offensive.  Please retract your accusation or provide
> some basis to support it.

Fair enough; if you provide a reason to even bring up the subject of
distinguishing "code" from "data" in the first place, I'll retract, with
the humblest apologies I can muster.  I'd desperately like to see even
one reason that isn't "Think of all the other KeWL stuff we could put in
Debian".  There are many classifications of various and sundry things in
the world -- but whether it is animal, vegetable or mineral isn't really
something that matters to Debian, nor have I seen you or anyone else
raising that question.  Since nobody is asking the "animal, vegetable or
mineral" question, and this is not a list devoted to meaningless
philosophical questions, there must be a point to bringing up the code
vs. data question; the only such point that has ever been raised is the
above "think of all the other..." one, which applies to warezing as well
as it does to any other bits that Debian may or may not choose to

I've written enough self-modifying assembly code to know the
implications of a von Neumann architecture -- code *IS* data.  I've
written enough of a compiler to know that the same string of bits can be
both data (to the compiler, linker, debugger, etc.) and code.  I've read
about the philosophy of the FSF, back in '86 or '87, and believed it; 
two of the four freedoms they refer to are the freedom to use the
"software" for any purpose *I* choose, and to modify the "software" to
suit *my* needs.  If I can't modify the icons, sounds, pictures, help
text, whatever other stuff is attached to suit *my* needs, then I'm not
really able to modify the "software" to suit my needs.  I'm only able to
modify part of the total operation of my system.  Should I be
celebrating my freedom because I only have shackles on my feet?  

Look, the reason I use Debian at all is because it is Free.  Take that
away, and I have to switch to something else, because Debian is at most
tied with several other distros in those things that matter to me
(stability, security, support), poor in some other areas (installation)
and dead last in others (frequency of release, guaranteed support). 

I get very suspicious when someone pops up claiming that a "different
kind" of freedom is necessary for some of the bits on my disk vs. other
bits on my disk, because there's usually some kind of an agenda involved
that means that I will no longer have total control of the bits on my
disk.  NO THANKS!

Stephen Ryan
Digital Rights Management is bad for all of us:

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