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Re: Motivations; proposed alternative license (was Re: LaTeX PublicProject License, Version 1.3 (DRAFT))


 > I'm glad to see you here, Frank.  Please forward my responses as you
 > deem appropriate to latex-l.

i try to do that, though most people probably don't really care either way as
long as things work as desired :-)

it is getting late (here --- for me at least) and I will be unable to
substantially answer any of the remaining or earlier posts nonight and perhaps
not even tomorrow. i have started to answer your first post (perhaps that goes
out tonight though)

so on this one (thank you for it) only two or three small bits

 > But what happens if "article" itself is broken?  Supposed that LaTeX
 > releases with a bug that causes Debian boxes (and just Debian boxes) to
 > be unable to process "article" documents.  Can a non-blessed person go
 > in and fix problems with LaTeX, or do they have to go begging to you
 > guys before they are allowed to process articles correctly?

they can though they should not distribute it under the license

 > I don't mean to slam your release process or your QA; for all I know,
 > they're great.  But I don't have any guarantee of that.  You're human,
 > after all.  And even if you aren't, you're very likely to change the
 > membership of the core maintenance group.  

 > In short, can you guarantee that you will never, never ever screw up?  I
 > don't think you can.  

i'm human and yes we screw up

 > That's why we consider the right to modify the
 > base parts of the system to be so important to us.  

you have that right, and i now see that it was a mistake to change in the
license the reference from cfgguide.tex to modguide.tex it should either refer
to both or perhaps modguide could do with some update

from cfg guide:


Since we have been prompted, despite our misgivings, to document how
to do this by members of the League for Programming Freedom, it seems
appropriate to describe here a possible modification of \LaTeX{} to
produce a system called fsf\TeX.

To do this, you should create a file called \texttt{fsftex.tex} and
then run it using \iniTeX{} and the standard \LaTeX{} format.

The contents of the file \texttt{fsftex.tex} should be as shown on
page \pageref{fsfcode}.  The particular changes to the \LaTeX{} kernel
that you wish to make need to be added to the file at the position
indicated.  You can also choose the extensions you want to use for the
class and package files in your system.


% fsftex.tex
% iniTEX Source code to make a `fsftex' format.
% To make this format on Unix:
%   initex \&latex fsftex
% Then to run the format on file.tex:
%   tex &fsftex file
% *** VERY IMPORTANT!!! ***
% Change the typeout banner so users know that they
%       are NOT running Standard LaTeX.
\everyjob{\typeout{fsfTeX 1.0 based on LaTeX2e \fmtversion}}

% fsfTeX changes some LaTeX internals:
%   ... put what you like here ...
\def \fsf@xxxx {Some arbitrary \emph{freely modifiable} code goes here}

% fsfTeX class files have extension .fcl (this week):
\def \@clsextension {fcl}

% fsfTeX package files have extension .fsy:
\def \@pkgextension {fsy}

% Change the file handling so that when a fsfTeX package or class
% is not available, the standard LaTeX file will be read.
% For example, \documentclass{article} will load article.fcl if such
% a file exists, but article.cls otherwise.  This allows arbitrary
% processing on `article' documents without changing the standard
% article.cls file.


  \ifx #2\@clsextension
    \InputIfFileExists {#1.cls}%
      {\wlog {fsfTeX: loading #1.cls rather than #1.#2.}}%
      {\fsf@missingfileerror {#1}{#2}}%
    \ifx #2\@pkgextension
      \InputIfFileExists {#1.sty}%
        {\wlog {fsfTeX: loading #1.sty rather than #1.#2.}}%
        {\fsf@missingfileerror {#1}{#2}}%
      \fsf@missingfileerror {#1}{#2}%


 > If we wanted to be
 > beholden to some organization for fixes to our problems, we'd do a lot
 > better relying on Microsoft; after all, they have a lot more resources
 > than you.

they may have resource (including Leslie Lamport these days) but that doesn't
mean you would be better off 

 > You've probably seen my proposed license.  There are some problems with
 > it, to be sure, but tell me: does it come close to meeting your needs? 
 > What drawbacks does it have, in your opinion?  (Sam's already pointed
 > one out, and I'm sure other Debian folks will have their own issues.)

not yet there (later this week)

 > > open with the exception of one point:
 > > 
 > >  - LaTeX needs clause 4 of debian guidelines, in fact that is central for us
 > >    (and here I don't just speak of the team) but for very very many LaTeX
 > >    users who also have some rights which is given to them through something
 > >    like LPPL
 > Perhaps.  I'm not convinced.  I think too many people are enamoured of
 > the idea that it's better to beat users about the head with the law,
 > rather than ask them to do what's obviously the Right Thing and expect
 > them to act in good faith.

going into that some other time

 > I wasn't aware that users had a "right" to stability and reliability. 
 > Certainly, the current state of the software world disproves that
 > notion.

as such a user perhaps doesn't :-) though if you take the view on a
stand-alone program most programmer take the view that their programming
effort (at leats at major release cycles9 is geared towards a stable system.

now the point that i was trying to make is latex (the thing that is not just
latex kernel but all types of stuff on say CTAN) is a system that actually
becomes a program not on a single machine but on a collection ofmachines that
have to work together. a comparison would would to have gcc inserting code
generation snippets for different architectures into the generated binary
which would render the results in most cases useless.

 > You point out that you're trying to hit a balance here.  I'm glad to
 > hear it; my first impressions were that the "balance" (such as it was)
 > seemed a bit tilted away from the goals of projects like Debian.  But
 > it's not illegitimate to express this concern.
 > Indeed, as bastions of freedom from time immemorial, I would think that
 > you would value such concerns.  It seems that this is the case, which is
 > good.


 > Don Knuth is great.  That doesn't mean that he's infallible, or even
 > that ideas he originally expressed haven't matured beyond him.

no certainly not. and i don't belong to the class of Tex users that cross
themselves hearing his name and bless his path --- though i very value his
work and think the very fact that he made TeX so stable amd unchangable
(without a name change) has been very beneficial to the whole community
(including a lot of free software projects that used one form of TeX or the

>  (BTW, I
 > believe the BSD stuff predates TeX, though I could be wrong, and there
 > are plenty of other examples of the "free philosophy" that predate even
 > BSD; general policies regarding IBM mainframe software in the 70s, for
 > instance.)

oh sure, I said "one of the early ones" and again. my claim is that TeX as
sort of a "web" system involving many machines is different from an operating
system which is essentially involving a single machine

 > If there is one thing among your (possibly unstated) goals and views
 > that seems to grate on me more than anything else, it's this:
 >   You're a moron, and can't be trusted to not screw up our beautiful
 >   software.  So, hands off!
 > Now, I realize that you don't say this in so many words.  

did i say that in few words? I hope not

 > But all of the
 > restrictions on filenames and the business about Current Maintainers
 > make very little sense otherwise.  Certainly those clauses in the
 > license don't give people a sense of cooperation and trust.

completely different intention (see other post (in case i ever come to it))

 > It might be instructive to see if that's really the feeling among people
 > associated with LaTeX.  If not, then perhaps you could be a little less
 > paranoid about changes to LaTeX that are well-documented.  Filename
 > changes aren't necessarily the only way to let people know that things
 > have changed; indeed, filenames are often the most trouble-prone ways to
 > document changes in a system.

agreed and not agreed (again for later)

 > (Plus, to get back to the point that grates on me, *you* are allowed to
 > make any such changes that you want without worrying about filenames. 
 > You don't even have to document your changes according to the license. 
 > Why?  What makes you so special?)

yes, isn't that's it? :-) (or perhaps even without a smiley?)

it is a good question what makes X special here --- but note, LPPL is not
really so important for the kernel of LaTeX, it is there for helping all the
extensions to stay usable.

anyway, you can do so too, just start your own LaTeX package (from any of
mine) then everybody can enjoy using either of them ...

good night

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