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Re: Visualboy Advance question.

On Mon, 21 Jun 2004 09:50:35 +1000 Matthew Palmer wrote:

> On Sun, Jun 20, 2004 at 06:36:42PM +0200, Francesco Poli wrote:
> > I think that DFSG-free emulators should be in main as long as they
> > don't*depend* on non-free packages.
> > Usefulness is, IMHO, a completely different matter.
> Because, of course, more useless software in main is exactly what we
> want. I don't think that's an argument you want to be pushing too
> hard.  <grin>

Well, I thought that useless software is maybe not worth to distribute
at all. You seem to imply that a free, but useless package must be
placed in contrib rather than in main...

> Let me ask you this: if there was an image viewer, which only viewed
> one format of images, and there were no images out there in that
> format, would you want to see that in Debian?  What if there were
> images in that format, but in order to get them you'd have to break
> copyright law?

Cannot someone create some free image in that format in the near future?
Why should Debian wait for one such image to *be packaged* before moving
the viewer from contrib to main?

> That second case is pretty much where we stand with a *lot* of game
> console emulators out there -- the only way to get data to use with
> them is to break the law.  Wonderful.

A real example: prboom is in contrib (at least in Woody). It's free
(under the GNU GPL license). It doesn't depend on non-free packages. It
can be installed without pulling in non-free packages and can execute
the FreeDoom IWADs that are free[1] (under a 3-clause BSD license), but
not packaged for Debian. But that doesn't stop me from downloading the
IWADs into my home directory and typing:

$ prboom -iwad ~/doom/freedoom-0.2/doom2.wad

That still seems to me very similar to

$ eeyes ~/images/myart/drawmadewithgimp.png

Neither FreeDoom, nor the hypothetical (but possible)
drawmadewithgimp.png are packaged for Debian.
Both are free (let's say the image I could create would be released
under the... mmmh... X11 license).

Why Electric Eyes is in main, while PrBoom is in contrib?

[1] http://freedoom.sourceforge.net/

> This is very, very different to the case with your average image
> viewer or script interpreter -- you can create some images yourself,
> or write a script to be run.  There's likely to be thousands of the
> damn things out there already, for you to use.  Therefore, we can make
> a reasoned guess that users will be able to use this software freely. 
> No such reasoned guess can be made for console emulators for which no
> free ROM images exist.

Wait, Mutella is in main: someone could argue that we cannot make a
reasoned guess that users will be able to use a P2P network client
without breaking the law.
I know that P2P is not illegal per se. And I know that legal uses of P2P
networks are *possible*. But someone could argue that the *principal*
use would be in violation of copyright laws...
So what should we do? Move it to contrib?

> So, if a program is free itself, but cannot be used in a free manner,
> where does it go?  Contrib.  Where are the console emulators in
> question? Contrib.  Hmm...
> Or, to take it another way entirely: Policy has the following to say
> (in part) about the use of dependencies:
> The Depends field should be used if the depended-on package is
> required for the depending package to provide a significant amount of
> functionality.
> The litmus test here is "a significant amount of functionality", not
> "will refuse to work at all without it", although that's a fairly good
> description of a console without a ROM.  But I would *certainly* say
> that doing anything other than sitting around asking for a ROM image
> would count as "a significant amount of functionality".
> Your attempted analogy to a python interpreter is flawed, too.  I can
> type things in at the >>> prompt and get python to do something.  Can
> I reasonably be expected to type things in to a console emulator's
> dead prompt and expect to be able to use the emulator for the purpose
> for which it was intended?  I would imagine not.

I could begin to write free software for the emulated hardware.
It would be perhaps much more difficult than writing a Python script,
but that's a difference in quantity, not in quality.

> Console emulators are in contrib for good reason -- because they have
> no use that we can see without a dependence on non-free material. 
> SC#1 says "We
> will never make the system require the use of a non-free component". 
> If you can't practically use a console emulator without resorting to a
> non-free image, then we're violating the social contract if it's in
> main.

I've always interpreted the "require" as "depend on", in the sense of
the "Depends" field.
And I've always saw the dependences as not related to usefulness (a
program cannot depend on its input data).

Of course, I may be wrong...

             |  GnuPG Key ID = DD6DFCF4 | You're compiling a program
  Francesco  |        Key fingerprint = | and, all of a sudden, boom!
     Poli    | C979 F34B 27CE 5CD8 DC12 |         -- from APT HOWTO,
             | 31B5 78F4 279B DD6D FCF4 |             version 1.8.0

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