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Re: generated source files, GPL and DFSG

On 7/22/05, Florian Weimer <fw@deneb.enyo.de> wrote:
> It makes it very hard to fix bugs in the pregenerated files.
> Look at the gsfonts mess, it's pretty instructive.

That's an argument from maintainability, not from freeness.  The two
are, in my view anyway, distinct though related judgments.

> >From a technical point of view, Java bytecode is as good as
> uncommented source code.  The Java-to-bytecode compilers are not very
> sophisticated.

Ditto.  But observe that bytecode is not only uncomment_ed_, it is
effectively uncomment_able_, which makes it far less maintainable by
downstream contributors.  The freedom to modify is not reduced to a
technicality by relative impracticality -- a license to modify is a
pretty good defense against complaints about reverse engineering and
repurposing -- but it is certainly abridged.

Again I would argue that, if the GFingerPoken source tarball contained
only the XPM versions of the artwork and did not discuss how they had
been created, that would represent at most a minor barrier to ongoing
maintenance of the software.  The fact that upstream has gone the
extra mile and provided povray input is very nice; a future maintainer
who wants to render them into, say, Display PostScript for use on a
300 DPI LCD has something to work with.

Someday perhaps these will be the "bad old days" when people didn't
turn up their noses at any code or data without a perfect,
all-free-tools audit trail.  Given the pressure to cram abandonware
clones into main, it doesn't look to me like we're going in the
direction of higher standards; but maybe that's only a short term
trend.  I don't like the sort of message it would send to relegate
GFingerPoken to contrib while retaining the many (perhaps most) other
games in main made of crap-ass code and bitmap images; but as usual
IANADD and it's not my problem.  :-)

- Michael

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