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Re: distributing precompiled binaries

On Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 10:33:38AM +0200, Bernhard R. Link wrote:
> * Steve Langasek <vorlon@debian.org> [090328 23:46]:
> > And this has all been discussed before.

> Obviously not often enough for you.

Oh, I'd much rather be doing something other than discussing this, but as
long as people are going to misrepresent the DFSG to this mailing list and
repeat arguments that have already been refuted as if they're canon, it's
fairly necessary.

> > > Also, a PDF is a program for a certain type of interpreter.

> > A PDF as a program is its own source.  You're talking about the preferred
> > format for modification of *documentation*, not a program.  There's no
> > reason to expect that two different versions of mumble2pdf are going to
> > output two *programs* that resemble one another in the slightest

> This is no different to a compiled binary.

The argument used to justify the claim that the DFSG requires source for PDF
and PS files is that PDF and PS are programming languages.  Yet *no one*
claims that when you write a text document that you will later postprocess
into a PDF, you're writing a program!  If what you've written is not a
program, then the source document is not the source for a program in any
meaningful sense.  The difference between a compiler and a mumble2pdf
converter is that a compiler's output will algorithmically resemble the
original source to the program, no matter how much it optimizes, but two
versions of mumble2pdf could output *completely different* programs which
are related *only* in the (presumedly) human-readable output they display.

> > - only that they output the same documentation.

> I concur the problem is less severe with documentation than with
> programs, as translating to text and reformating is often not that big
> a loss for documentation. But I think in most cases only a .pdf is still to
> hard to change to call it free.

It's reasonable for you to hold the position that this is "not free".  But
that's not what the DFSG says; and before someone tries to change the DFSG
to say this, I would recommend someone try to come up with a brighter line
to separate documentation than, e.g., fonts, graphics, sounds, and videos
than just "more people edit documents".

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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