Re: Bug#143063 acknowledged by developer (Bug#143063: fixed in mmix 1:0.0.20020615-3)
On Thu, Oct 03, 2002 at 09:18:14AM -0400, Peter S Galbraith wrote:
> Julian Gilbey <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > Thanks for adopting the package. However, I really do not understand
> > how it conflicts with point four:
> > DFSG point four:
> > 4. Integrity of The Author's Source Code
> > The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in modified
> > form _only if the license allows the distribution of "patch files" with
> > the source code for the purpose of modifying the program at build time.
> > * The license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from
> > * modified source code. The license may require derived works to carry a
> > * different name or version number from the original software. (This is a
> > compromise. The Debian group encourages all authors to not restrict any
> > files, source or binary, from being modified.)
> > Note the starred lines.
> > Now the mmix license (from boilerplate.w, minus markup):
> > (c) 1999 Donald E. Knuth
> > This file may be freely copied and distributed, provided that no
> > changes whatsoever are made. All users are asked to help keep the
> > MMIXware files consistent and ``uncorrupted,'' identical
> > everywhere in the world. Changes are permissible only if the
> > modified file is given a new name, different from the names of
> > existing files in the MMIXware package, and only if the modified
> > file is clearly identified as not being part of that package.
> > How does that go against the DFSG point four? He permits changes,
> > modifications and redistribution thereof, but only if the file names
> > are modified and the changes are identified.
> It has been argued (during the LaTeX license debate) that "the license
> may require derived works to carry a different name" refers to the
> software or package name, and not a functional item such as a source
> code filename (which makes modification much more difficult).
(1) "derived works" is not precise, as the DFSG does not specify
what a "work" refers to. So this will be an unresolvable debate.
(2) The modification to the actual code will be significantly harder
to achieve than changing the filenames of the modified files. And
nowhere in the DFSG does it say "and it's got to be really easy to
Furthermore, mmix agrees with (at least one reading of) point four
both in letter and spirit: the source cannot be distributed in a
modified form without changing filenames, but change (patch) files are
permitted; in fact, a mechanism for using them is even provided!
(Whether you like the change files mechanism is a different story,
though ;-) If change files are to be used, then the above license does
not specifically require that the resulting work be given a different
name or that the changes be publicised, but that is probably the
So I still don't understand what the actual issue is, especially given
that DFSG 4 is specifically dealing with the case that the author has
not given permission for the source code to be modified.
(I actually wonder whether DFSG 4 was actually written so that TeX and
METAFONT would be considered DFSG-free.)
Julian Gilbey, Dept of Maths, Queen Mary, Univ. of London
Debian GNU/Linux Developer, see: http://people.debian.org/~jdg/
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