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Re: various opinions on Debian vs the GFDL

On Thu, May 08, 2003 at 11:30:15AM +0200, Henning Makholm wrote:
> > > All the XML scores in the world will not allow me to
> > > recreate a particular sound recording (made with real live musicians,
> > > in the case it contains music). Therefore, an XML score is not
> > > source.
> > All the C code in the world won't let you recreate the last build I did
> > either, unless I also give you the compiler I used. Big deal.
> If one need to use a compiler that only you have, I'd say that your
> binary is not free.

You'd say that unless I give you a copy of the C compiler I wrote, the
perfectly compliant ANSI C code I give you is not free?

You'd insist on demanding a copy of my compiler, if I give you a binary that
you cannot generate a byte-for-byte copy of with gcc?

If so, that's utterly irrational and unreasonable. If not, you're
unreasonably limiting the ways sound can be redistributed (it must be
*exactly* the same, not merely the same bar production differences).

> > > > Samples and recordings are more difficult, mainly because the concept of
> > > > "revision" doesn't really exist, per se. One possibility is just to do
> > > > a hex dump -- it's as straightforwardly editable with a hex editor as
> > > > _anything_ is, after all
> > > Any opaque format is straightforwardly editable with a hex editor.
> > Well, no, it's not.
> It was your claim that sound could be edited in hex form. If that is
> true, then anything else can be similarly "edited" in hex form.

"It was your claim that C source code could be edited with a text
editor. If that is true, then anything else can be similarly "edited"
with a text editor."

Apart from one matching your preconceptions, and the other not, is there
any difference in the logical validity of those two comments?

> > The question is what changes do you want to make.
> Nowhere in the GFDL does it say that it is OK for a transparent format
> to make only certain kinds of changes possible.

You can make any changes with a hex editor to anything, the question is
whether the changes are straightforward or not -- and some aren't. But
likewise, many changes you'd make to a document or to source code
with a text editor aren't straightforward either -- translation into
Elvish, optimisation, converting a reference manual into a tutorial,
rearranging sections to be more logical and coherent. Setting the bar at
"every possible change must be able to be made in a straightforward and
thoughtless manner" is thus not a reasonable interpretation of the GNU
FDL's requirement; "the most common and basic changes must be able to be
made in a straightforward and thoughtless manner" is, and, for sound,
where the most basic edits you can make is addition and rearrangement,
you can do that with a reasonably marked up WAV hex dump quite easily,
in a text editor.

> > If you want to change the location of two icons in a program, I don't
> > think you're going to be able to do that if I give you a hexdump of an
> > ELF executable.
> And if you want to change the words of a poem read alouf, I don't
> think you're going to be able to do that if I give you a hexdump of
> a PCM file.

I've already given you an example of how you can change "Anthony is my
name" to "is my name Anthony". I don't know what a PCM file looks like --
but the only requirements are being able to work out where the word breaks
are, which requires either markup or consistent bit lengths for timing;
and that there's no cross-frame dependencies.

> > OTOH, I don't think there are any "revisions" you can make to any
> > sound file that you can't also make with a text editor to a suitable
> > text dump of a WAV file.
> My point is exactly that *no* way of editing sound files will allow me
> to do the kind of changes we normally require for freedom.

That's nice, but you haven't done anything but repeatedly restate it.

> > > Only for certain kinds of changes. That's not enough.
> > Really? How do you remove all the buffer overflows from mozilla with
> > a text editor? A lot of analysis, study, and tedious editing, no?
> Yes, but it's possible in principle.

Yes, it's possible in principle to reconstruct source code from an ELF binary

> > Same thing with most of the edits you want to do to a sound file.
> No, they are not possible in principle.

You're both wrong and insane.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

  ``Dear Anthony Towns: [...] Congratulations -- 
        you are now certified as a Red Hat Certified Engineer!''

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