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Re: [RFC] Modification history as a source code

On Wed, Jun 18, 2003 at 11:25:42AM -0400, Brian T. Sniffen wrote:
> Steve Langasek <vorlon@netexpress.net> writes:
> > No, you should only provide the C source, because the binaries being
> > distributed are those of the modified C program.  Once I've started
> > editing the C program, I've made it unambiguously clear that this is the
> > preferred form for modifications; just because the Pascal source exists
> > doesn't mean I should have to distribute it.

> So if I take a compiled C program -- say, something I got from Debian
> but for which I do not have the source -- and run 'strip' on it, is
> it the case that the unstripped binary is the source, and the stripped
> binary the object?

Two things:

* The preferred form for modification must include the past modifications
that went into the source for the work in question: at best, this means
that the stripped binary would be both the "source" and the "binary" in
this case.  There is plenty of precedence among interpreted languages
for these being one and the same; however,

* my sloppy wording notwithstanding, being the preferred form for
modification also means it's suitable as input for the process of
*further* modification.  Are there other modifications you would perform
on a stripped binary?  Would you perform *arbitrary* modifications on a
stripped binary?

> The compiled binary is clearly the only possible form for the
> modification I've just performed.

It's the only possible form in your possession; if you had source, such
a modification could be completed as part of the build process (which is
lossy in general) by adding a 'strip' command to the makefile.  So just
because you don't have source code available doesn't make it free.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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