Re: Inconsistencies in our approach
>That's an overly-expansive view of software. You would include
>anything that is digital in that description -- audio CDs, DVD movies,
>off-air TV signals,
(actually, off-air TV signals are partly analogue, FYI...)
>books on disk, etc. I find it very hard to quantify
>Beethoven's Ninth Symphony as software, even if it was recorded
Oh, but a *recording* of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony could be considered
software. Software, as opposed to hardware, which the CD player is.
>digitally, given that the invention of software postdated its
>composition by a LONG time --
Just because the word 'software' was coined quite recently doesn't mean
that it can't refer to things older than that. Similarly, the word
'hardware' is a relatively recent coinage, but is applied to things
which predate civilization.
>I see it as fallacious reasoning to conclude that anything that is
>binary is software. If I use some sort of binary "Morse code" to send
>a message manually, why is it more of software than if I use the real
OK, forget about binary. I'm having trouble coming up with the words
which specify precisely what I mean. "Software is that stuff which
isn't hardware (but lives on it)." That's what I'm getting at,
and is basically the origin of the term, anyway.
>> > Would it benefit Free Software?
>> Yep. It would help promote the movement to have genuninely free manuals
>> for those pieces of software; manuals which could be integrated into
>> programs, used as help text, freely lifted from, etc.
>I agree that this is good. But how does it promote Free Software to
>strip manuals from Free programs?
Separating non-free manuals out of Debian promotes the free-manuals movement.
As I said above. And I consider that to be an essential part of the
Free Software movement.
(Also, Debian users expect to have a certain collection of rights for
stuff distributed in 'main', and it is letting down Debian's users for
that to be false. But that's an 'our users' argument rather than
a 'free software' argument.)
You could also ask:
How does it promote Free Software to strip out almost-free software?
How does it promote Free Software to strip out non-free fonts?
The answers are precisely the same. It promotes the movement. It
promotes the distinction between Free Software and non-free software.
If you consider that answer invalid, then non-free (but freely
redistributable) X-Windows and TeX fonts should be reinstated in main
(since users wouldn't 'benefit' from their removal). Similarly,
non-commercial-use-only software would belong in 'main'.
Hope my thoughts and arguments help someone. I release the text into
the public domain. :-)
Nathanael Nerode <neroden at gcc.gnu.org>