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Re: non-software violates social contract?

Please don't Cc me on list mail.

On Tue, 2002-08-27 at 18:34, Aaron Swartz wrote:
> On Tuesday, August 27, 2002, at 02:19  PM, Joe Wreschnig wrote:
> >> I think it's clear that graphics fonts and documentation are not 
> >> software.
> > I think it's clear you don't work with fonts or documentation.
> I work with both. I understand these complexities but I didn't really 
> want to go into them.

Sorry, but these complexities are the very things you *must* go into if
you want to delineate software and non-software. Proof by generalization
is not a valid legal argument, nor do I think it's one that should be
used to bypass the social contract.

> There are quite a few things (RFCs, the GPL, 
> etc.) which I think are clearly not intended to be executed by 
> computers. I don't think arguing about AI and advanced parsing 
> techniques is relevant to the point at hand.

The fact that fonts are described as a set of mathematical equations for
splines has nothing to do with AI or advanced parsing techniques. Is a C
program that only describes a set of splines not software?

Alan Shutko pointed out that I may have been mistaken saying Type1 and
PDF are fully Turing-complete, but regardless, they are programs.

> > [...] XML (and SGML) are just alternate forms of expressing S-exps, 
> > used in LISPs [sic] for programming [...]
> So? ASCII is used in C programming.

I made this point because it's difficult to prove that
"<html><head><title>Foobar</title>...</html>" is not a program, but
"(html (head (title "Foobar") ... ) " is. In fact, I'd say it's

> > What about a program that consists solely of printf statements, 
> > printing
> > static text? Is that documentation, or "software"?
> There are more fun puzzles at 
> http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/DeCSS/Gallery/

It stops being a fun puzzle and becomes a real problem when Debian
packages such programs. Look at the apt-dpkg-ref package. Although
"documentation", it's actually a LISP program to output LaTeX source to
create a document. So, is it a LISP program, a LaTeX program, or a

[From your original mail:]
> Unless we're using some weird definition of software, I don't see how
> one can read this to say everything in Debian must be DFSG-free. I'd
> suggest that non-free non-software be allowed in Debian. Am I missing
> something?

My point is that fine, I guess Debian can include non-free non-software.
However, it's difficult if not impossible to prove that any given stream
of bits is not software. So the only non-free things we can include are
proven non-software, like ham sandwiches or desks.
 - Joe Wreschnig <piman@sacredchao.net>  -  http://www.sacredchao.net
  "What I did was justified because I had a policy of my own... It's
   okay to be different, to not conform to society."
                                   -- Chen Kenichi, Iron Chef Chinese

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