Re: GDB manual
Please read to the end, even if you're bored with the top part. I have
tried to reformulate your opinion and I want to know if I got it right.
Josselin Mouette said:
>> Then, I would like you to explain why you think a document with
>> invariant sections is free for the GNU definition of freedom,
>> instead of
>> repeating around and around you are not convinced by our arguments.
RMS then said:
>The reason I have said that a few times is that I have seen various
>messages here that don't seem to recognize that what the GFDL says is
>not a Debian decision.
We all recognize that. Whose decision is it? The collection of GNU
developers who dislike portions of the GNU FDL appear to have no
influence. Is it, as Branden suggested, your *personal* decision,
>You can suggest changes but cannot demand changes.
Nobody is demanding changes. Many people are stating "The GFDL is not
free". Many people are proposing a campaign against its use by non-FSF
groups. Many people are saying "No, let's ask RMS to change it before
we start a campaign, because it's more polite."
> I'm not likely to accept suggestions that come with what
>feels like a pressure campaign.
Well, uh, it is a campaign. If you're not likely to accept suggestions
that come with a campaign even if they're *good* suggestions, you're too
thin-skinned. If you simply mean you're not likely to accept
suggestions just *because* of a pressure campaign, good for you.
>By contrast, the question of which licenses to accept in Debian is a
>Debian decision. I make suggestions and offer arguments about this,
>but I do not try to make demands about it, and I am not running a
Unfortunately, other people purporting to act on behalf of the FSF do.
Several people have jumped in with claims such as "How dare you
suggest that the GNU FDL isn't free enough for Debian. Of course the
GNU FDL is free!" It certainly felt like a pressure campaign,
regardless of who if anyone was "running" it. I realize you can't do
anything about what other people say.
(Meanwhile, messages regarding the perceived problems have generally
been ignored outright. Even messages asking for clarification: "It
looks to me like the FDL prohibits this. What is the FSF's opinion, since
I'd like to do this?" have often been ignored. While the FSF continues to
promote the FDL and invariant sections on its website. This is in contrast
to the FSF's very responsive attitude towards questions about unusual uses of
>But perhaps I understand the question you have in mind. If you are
>asking why the invariant sections provide sufficient freedom to
>modify, the answer is that people can make whatever substantive
>changes they wish in the technical functionality of the manual.
"Reference Card" example, noting that reference card creation is not
covered by Fair Dealing (analogue to US fair use) provisions in the UK.
With regard to your point that the many-page FDL wouldn't fit on the
card anyway: Note that under the GPL, the GPL can be delivered *with*
the reference card, making it possible. The fact that the FDL (at
least according to all interpretations I've heard) must be *on* the
reference card is also a freedom-to-modify problem, one which
also could affect use of the manual in other space-tight areas such as
>To call a program or a manual non-free is a serious accusation, and it
>needs more grounds than inconvenience alone. The invariant section is
>a requirement on packaging of modified versions of the technical
>material, and that is an area where tolerance is called for. In the
>early days of the GNU Project I had to consider whether the license of
>TeX was acceptable. I concluded that we should not reject a package
>merely because of packaging requirements, any sort of packaging
>requirements, as long as the functionality of the work can be changed
>in whatever way may be necessary.
Note that Debian accepts 4-clause BSD and LaTeX for similar reasons. I
don't believe there's disagreement here, really.
Many Debian developers believe that political statements are not
free without freedom to modify. There is much argument about this.
Many Debian developers believe that political statements without
freedom to modify do not belong in Debian, either because they are not
free or because they are not software. This is an issue about which there is
also much argument.
Where there is definite consensus is that "shackling" a technical manual
to a political statement imposes unacceptably non-free restrictions on the
right to modify the technical manual.
You clearly believe that these restrictions simply aren't important.
This appears to be because you believe that the types of modification
which are restricted (generally speaking, modifications to fit in
tightly limited spaces, either physical or programmatic) aren't
necessary for freedom. Is this correct?
Debian disagrees, and so do many developers doing work for the FSF.