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Re: User's thoughts about LPPL

On Tue, Jul 16, 2002 at 07:52:09PM -0400, Boris Veytsman wrote:
>    B. The *name* TeX is reserved for Knuth's program. If you program
>    is called TeX, it must satisfy triptest. You can NOT correct bugs
>    in this program, you cannot do Debian QA for it -- you either take
>    it as is or rename it.

That might be why ours is called teTeX.

> 2. Debian people seem not to realize that LaTeX (and TeX) is BOTH a
>    program and a language -- and a language requires
>    standardization. The nightmare of incompatible HTML dialects proves
>    this point well. Yes, standards limit freedom in some way. However,
>    do you really want your grocer to have a freedom to call 800g a
>    kilogram? 

Being BOTH a program and a language is not unusual.  The same goes for
perl, python, ruby... even gcc.  Other things also require standardization,
such as Internet protocols (telnet, ftp, ssh, the TCP/IP stack in the
kernel) and document formatting languages such as docbook.  Yet all
of these are under free licenses, and there does not seem to be rampant
malignant mutation going on.

>    A. Standardization. I want a LaTeX document to be compiled and
>    printed exactly in the same way at my desk, at my publisher's desk,
>    at my student's computers etc UNLESS I or students or publishers
>    want otherwise.

The "UNLESS" part is precisely the freedom that is being discussed here.
Do you want the freedom to change the way a LaTeX document is compiled
and printed, or not?

>    Suppose a user is near blind and wants all documents to be printed
>    in a big fontsize. He can create a program (in latexese called
>    style) bigsize.sty and add to all his documents a line
>    \usepackage{bigsize}.

What if the user wants this to happen automatically, without having to
change every document he wants to print or view?

What if the user wants to create documents that can be easily exchanged
with others?  He would have to add or remove the usepackage line at
every exchange, and will probably forget sometimes.  It would be even
more difficult to use a shared version control system to collaborate
on documents.

> By doing this he makes a decision about
>    document formatting. He is free to do this under LPPL. On the other
>    hand, the authors of the documents know that the formatting of
>    their works is exactly same UNLESS a user made an explicit decision
>    to change.

It should be possible to make such a decision without modifying the

> To summarize: I think LPPL strikes a necessary balance between
> standardization and flexibility. This balance was tested by 20+ years
> of TeX, which is licensed under exactly same conditions.

No, TeX is in the public domain.  Only the name is restricted, and
that's not a filename restriction.  The distinction is important if
filenames are part of the technical interface.

Richard Braakman

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