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Re: Format 3.0 (git)

On Sat, Sep 24, 2011 at 04:16:21PM +0200, Tollef Fog Heen wrote:
> | - Debian is about freedom. Freedom in software is about about enabling
> |   people to "scratch their itch", to modify the software to suite their
> |   need and what they consider best for them.

> Yes, and to continue that thread: The way we do that is to distribute
> the source of our work.  The most useful definition of source I've come
> across is the GPL's: The preferred form for modification.

> Given I maintain my packages in git, it's quite clear that the preferred
> form for modification of my packages is through git and not debian
> source packages.  That we don't have a good way of distributing the
> source of packages is a fault I think we should address.

I am sympathetic to the problems caused by the interactions between quilt
and VCS-hosted packages, but I object strongly to this attempt to cast git
repositories as "the preferred form for modification" of a work.  Under the
GPL, this is tantamount to claiming that it's *illegal* to distribute a
tarball of the work without the git history!

git is a container, not a "preferred form for modification".  It's a
container with some nice added features, like access to the full history,
but the history of the work is not part of "the work".  This is evident from
a simple question:  is access to this history a benefit because it allows
you to modify the history?

When submitting changes upstream or planning to maintain the code in the
long-term, access to the VCS is invaluable.  But neither of those things is
equivalent to modification of a work, and modifying the work does not
require access to a VCS.  I'm pretty sure anyone who can modify the code in
a git repository can also modify it without a git repository.

> I don't put much weight on the «it should be simple to hack on packages
> and VCSes make it hard» argument.  IME, there are many more people who
> know how to drive git than there are people who know how to usefully
> hack on Debian packages.

There are more people who know how to drive svn than there are people who
know how to drive git.  Let's make svn repositories the preferred source
format. :-P

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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