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Re: DEP-5 meta: New co-driver; current issues

On pe, 2010-08-13 at 08:00 +0000, Sune Vuorela wrote:
> On 2010-08-12, Lars Wirzenius <liw@liw.fi> wrote:
> > * Various things are easier if debian/copyright can be parsed and
> >   interpreted by software, rather than being free-form text. For
> >   example, answering questions like "what stuff is GPLv2 only,
> >   and therefore incompatible with GPLv3?".
> This is quite useless as long as we are making copyright files for
> sourcefiles.

I believe debian/copyright is supposed to cover both source and binary
packages, so I think your premise is invalid. However, let's assume it
is valid. Even so, I don't think it is useless to have debian/copyright
machine parseable, even if it does not solve all problems. Having a
partial solution is already better than nothing, since it will make it
easier to find the cases where manual inspection will be needed.

For example, in the example you gave, it is helpful to get a list of the
packages where there might be a problem, and exclude the majority of
packages where there is obviously no problem with license compatibility.
Without automation, manual inspection is going to be necessary for all
packages, and that's a lot of work.

Now, obviously there are already tools that use pattern matching and
other heuristics to figure out the licenses for each package. The point
of DEP-5 is to reduce the guessing, and make it easier to automate
things. It will not be a complete solution, but if it gets adopted, it
will help.

I like the comparison with debhelper. It also does not solve the entire
problem (though dh comes close), and we can't ever make it mandatory,
but even so, it makes everyone's life quite a lot easier. For some
people, for whatever reason, it doesn't help enough to warrant the
effort to convert to it, so they don't, and that's fine, too.

And I think that's just about enough from me on the topic of justifying
the point of making debian/copyright machine readable.

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