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Re: generated source files, GPL and DFSG

Glenn Maynard <glenn@zewt.org> wrote:
> On Sat, Jul 23, 2005 at 02:35:01AM +0100, Matthew Garrett wrote:
>> So say we have two drivers for a piece of hardware. One is written
>> without comments. One was originally commented, but the comments have
>> been removed. Both provide the same amount of information about how they
>> work. Both are released under the same license. Both provide exactly the
>> same freedoms to our users.
>> How is one of these free and the other non-free?
> One provided source, the other did not, and Debian considers having source
> fundamental to having a free program.

"Because it is, damnit"?

> Take it a step further, and say we have two drivers: one written in heavily-
> optimized, uncommented assembly, and one written in C, compiled with
> optimizations and disassembled.  They look pretty much the same; as you say,
> both provide the "same freedoms to our users".  Is disassembly output of a
> compiled program "source" to you?  Is one free and the other non-free?

If the ease of modification is equivalent in both cases, then I'd
consider them to be equally free. If it's impractical for anyone to
modify either, then I'd consider them non-free. "Free software" that
provides no practical way of excercising its freedoms is not something
that we should be supporting or holding up as an example to others.
Matthew Garrett | mjg59-chiark.mail.debian.legal@srcf.ucam.org

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