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Re: Is tabular data in binary format acceptable for Debian ?

Le Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 10:43:37AM -0800, Don Armstrong a écrit :
> It depends on the precise nature of the data. It is quite easy to
> produce Rdata files which are not the prefered form for modification.
> For example, the following temp.Rdata would not be the prefered form
> for modification:
> temp <- data.frame(read.table(file="data_file_not_distributed.txt"))
> model.lm <- lm(foo~bar,temp)
> save(model.lm,file="temp.Rdata")

It is technically true, but I think that we are drifting. To my knowledge,
there is no such .Rdata file in R packages. The current subject of discussion
is tables in binary format.

On the other hand, I am sure that in Debian there are files that are similar in
spirit to your example. For instance, I have seen PDF documents with PNG plots
for which we have not the necessary material to regenerate or modify them, for
instance Excel or OpenOffice spreadsheets, Gnuplot or R code, and source data
data – which can be gigabytes big. This has been tolerated until now – and I am
very happy of this.

To come back to the original problem, I will consider the the .Rdata files in
my packages free unless our archive administrators reject again a package that
contains some, since in the case of tables, whatever Upstream uses (or not) to
generate them, he is not holding up information that would give him an
advantage over people willing to fork.

Once again, I would like to remind how disproportionate is the time that we
have to spend for this kind of issues (.Rdata files, PDF files, documenting
copyrights of source files we do not use, repackaging to remove windows
executables, …) in order to get free software accepted in our free
distribution. It kills the fun, sometimes degrades our relations with Upstream,
and I have not yet seen a user thanking us for doing this.


Charles Plessy
Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan

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