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Re: Visualboy Advance question.

Josh Triplett wrote:
Evan Prodromou wrote:

On Tue, 2004-06-22 at 19:02, Josh Triplett wrote:

While I agree that it is not necessarily required that a Free package
Depend on some piece of Free data for it to operate on, I do believe
that if there is _no_ Free data for the package to run with, and that
data is required in order to operate, then the package must go in
contrib until at least one free piece of data is available.

I just don't think that software Depends: on the data it manipulates the
way that it Depends: on, say, libraries or other programs.

From Debian Policy section 3.5:

Every package must specify the dependency information about other
packages that are required for the first to work correctly.

Emulators do not work correctly without software to emulate.

Emulators work perfectly correctly without software to emulate. NO$GMB does the same thing with no image loaded that my gameboy does with no cartridge in the slot. Pacifist (I assume) does the same thing with no BIOS that a real Atari ST does if you pull out its BIOS chips*.

Many emulators are for systems that are well-documented (indeed, a Free emulator is a good source of documentation in and of itself), and can be used as a basis for developing one's own software, regardless of whether Free software for the platform has yet been written, or packaged in Debian. In addition, emulator components can be used in writing ones own emulator, perhaps to prototype some embedded system.

Back in the day, for many 8 and 16-bit era consoles and computers, the preferred form for modification was the ROM image itself, or rather rudimentary assembler (indeed, many spectrum games were written on paper, and assembled by hand). Debian already provides a development environment comparable to this.

The policy requires packages to list as a dependency other packages which are necessary for it to operate correctly, not other packages that are necessary for it to behave in manner entertaining to an end user. In my opinion, an emulator bundled with a development environment depends on nothing else to work correctly; for most systems emulated to date, Debian provides an environment that can be used to develop software.

The requirement to find/write and package an arbitrary Free program for the platform strikes me as a ridiculous hurdle - either any program will do, in which case a program so trivial that the end-user could knock one up after reading the manual for a few minutes (a few bytes of assembler to flash the screen, for instance) is sufficient, or the program must be judged against some arbitrary criteria of usefulness, which is a requirement no other type of program in Debian is held to.

Lewis Jardine

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