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Re: TeX Licenses & teTeX (Was: Re: forwarded message from Jeff Licquia)

On Thu, Aug 08, 2002 at 12:03:16AM -0400, Boris Veytsman wrote:
> Thomas, you rightly say that only Debian can interpret DFSG. While I
> agree with you in that, it seems that now you want to have the power
> to interpret the word "free". This is, in my opinion, a far-fetched

It's already been explained in detail that, on Debian lists, the word
"free" is generally understood to mean "DFSG-free".  Complaining every
time someone uses this well-established convention is a waste of time.

> idea. TeX community used the word "free" for decades. The example of
> TeX was one of the sources of inspiration for RMS and FSF, which, in
> its turn, inspired Debian project. TeX is the grandfather of the free
> software community. If it is not enough free for you, this is your
> problem. If it is not free enough for being DFSG-free, I would think
> it is a problem of Debian, not of a problem of TeX.

Debian might well have stricter standards for free software than the TeX
community.  Which one is "wrong" is completely irrelevant to the
discussion.  Saying things like "it's your problem, don't bother me
about it" is counterproductive.

> You see, it is a honor to be called an author of free
> software. However, if you do not consider Knuth to be one, I too
> respectfully decline this honor from you. You know, I'd rather be in
> the same boat with Don. 

Software being free depends on its license, not its author.

> I am not a lawyer, so I cannot claim understanding of intricacies of
> licenses. However, I think I understand Knuth's lucid writings about
> his intentions with respect to TeX. He many times said that he wants
> that after his death TeX version number is frozen at pi, and MF number
> frozen at e, and absolutely no change is made to them thereafter. It

If this is done, then the software is non-free.  I don't know if the TeX
community agrees, but I think most people--and not just people sharing
Debian's views--would agree that software whose license forbids any
changes to be made is unambiguously non-free.

However, it's certainly not clear that this is the case.  You make
claims, but you don't support them.  From my reading of
he doesn't want a modified TeX to be called "TeX".

> is evident for me that he does not want TeX to be gradually improved;
> rather he visions completely new systems based on TeX ideas and
> code. 

Completely new systems based on TeX code?  Huh?

> He wants TeX to be his monument -- these are his exact
> words. 

He speaks in the third person?  :)

Glenn Maynard

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