[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Some new largish packages: please comment

First, thanks for all the comments.

On Fri, 15 Jan 1999, Marcelo E. Magallon wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 14, 1999 at 09:23:12PM +0100, Richard B. Kreckel wrote:
> > I am about to build some packages of astronomical databases to be used
> > with Elwood Downey's XEphem, packaged by Frank Jordan for slink. Since
> > some of these databases are quite large I would like to hear what people
> > think about a possible split-up. The packages will be part of non-free,
> > the main reason being the fact that XEphem is in non-free
> Actually, the databases could go in contrib.  It makes sense because, IIRC,
> the databases *could* be used with other software than XEphem

True, (well, there are some issues about `cite-me', we need to add this
into /usr/doc/) but presently there are no other applications that use it
AFAIK. With one exception: There is a CGI-server included in XEphem if you
wish to put up a server for those databases. Have a look at 
<http://iphcip1.physik.uni-mainz.de/XEphemDB/xephemdbd.html> if you don't 
know what I am talking about. However, such a server is probably not very
attractive to package since there are fast and reliable servers for such
things on the net (like the above) and XEphem is the only program using it
at present.

> > To wrap things up, there are 5 options:
> > a) 160M GSC  +  8.7M asteroids  +  4.3M PPM  +  4.1M others
> > b) 160M GSC  +  8.7M asteroids  +  8.4M PPM and others        <-- nice
> > c) 160M GSC  +  17.1M other catalogs
> > d) 4.3M PPM  +  4.1M others
> > e) 8.4M PPM and others
> > of which I prefer the second. Please comment!
> I like b), too.
Ok. Let's do b) since that establishes a slight order (in magnitudes), at
least for the big beasts and does not introduce too many packages.

> But I agree we could make another *distribution* for this, something like
> data... maybe two distributions, data and data-non-free (for things like the
> satlas database)
Perfect! This eliminates my qualms about size and fitness. However, such a
deep change should probably not be discussed in debian-mentors. Which list
would be most suitable for this?

> PS: Has somebody talked with the XEphem author to make it DFSG-free? What's
>     wrong with us in natural sciences? Why are we so infected by this "noone
>     will steal my work" metality? Why do we tend to write such stupid
>     licenses that only make all of us look, well, stupid. The other day I
>     read the worst of them all... it practically says "I, the author, am the
>     only one entitled to distribute, modify and/or *read* the code, so,
>     don't even think about it!"

Okay, let me elaborate on the XEphem-part because this is an important
one. Not long ago, I was discussing this issue with the author Elwood
Downey. I noticed that the copyright notice has changed slightly between
version 3.0 and 3.1 which coincides with the foundation of the author's
company Clear Sky Institute <http://www.clearskyinstitute.com/>. I
explained to him the benefits of making his software DFSG-free and all. He
did indeed agree with me but remained firm. I believe I may quote Elwood
at this place:

: Hmm, I can see how this policy could benefit society as a whole because
: the overall quality of the software would probably rise over time, and
: quite likely faster and in more dimensions than if it remained under the
: control of one body. Indeed, I think this societal-benefit thing is at 
: the heart of the GPL in fact. It is even in accord with basic evolution,
: which tends to select for traits which improve chances of survival for
: the species, not necessarily the individual.
: All well and good... but for me here and now this is too vague a benefit
: compared to the immediate and large benefit I get from being able to
: take the bulk of the credit for XEphem as it stands now and retain
: control over where I choose to migrate it in the future.
: I think I will remain firmly in the middle for a while longer, retaining
: control, but sharing the results.

We should accept it, let XEphem in sit non-free and enjoy that wonderful
piece of software.

Of course, Marcelo is right. Has anyone ever thought about computer 
algebra systems and how development is killed in many cases because
they suddenly change their license? The market is simply not big enough to
support any other commercial application beside Maple and Mathematica. I
wish, scientists would grasp this point and educate other scientists about
it. Sigh...

Richard Kreckel

Reply to: