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Re: Folding@Home Package

Le Fri, Jun 22, 2007 at 02:20:33PM -0400, Zachary Palmer a écrit :
> Hello, all.  It has been my understanding that the reason that the 
> Folding@Home distributed computing software has not been made a Debian 
> package is that the license under which it is released does not allow it 
> to be free.  This software package has pretty much the best reason for 
> being closed source that I've encountered; they want to prevent 
> falsified results from damaging the research.

Dear Zachary,

as said in another mail, folding@home is definitely non-free. Hovever,
if Debian would become an "authorized distributor", the licence would be
suitable for non-free.

  You may only use unmodified versions of Folding@home obtained 
  through authorized distributors to connect to the Folding@Home 
  servers. Use of other software to connect to the Folding@home 
  servers is strictly prohibited.
  Distribution of this software is prohibited. It may only be 
  obtained by downloading from Stanford's web site
  (http://folding.stanford.edu and pages linked therein).

I guess that in that case, there would be a link from the Stanford site to
packages.debian.org for instance.

However, one thing that you should make clear when contacting upstream is
that their software would eventually become released together with Debian
stable, and therefore not be upgraded (unless the stable relase team would
be OK, why not ?) This is also valid in the case of a wrapper: their
binary could require some libraries which are too old in stable, hence
breaking the wrapper.

Do they frequently upgrade ? How long can an old client connect ? In that
case, packaging would be commiting yourself to follow the upgrades
closely. I do not think that it would help our users if the Debian package
would periodically provide a binary which is not allowed to connect.

Maybe the Debian-Med packaging team could provide you a safety net by
co-maintaining the package and hosting the /debian dir in our SVN repo, so
that you can take holidays without coming back with an obsolete package
and angry users. However, would the package not be actively followed by a
dedicated person, it would be better removed (or not packaged at that

Lastly, I am not sure that closed-sourceness is the best strategy against
cheating. I guess that the expertise area of folding@home is structural
biology, wheras the expertise of cheaters is... well... cheating.

Have a nice day,

Charles Plessy
Debian-Med packaging team
Wako, Saitama, Japan

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