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Re: Proposal: The DFSG do not require source code for data, including firmware

On Wed, 23 Aug 2006 02:16:25 +0200, Raphael Hertzog <hertzog@debian.org> said: 

> Hi Manoj,
> On Tue, 22 Aug 2006, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
>> So, unless otherwise stated, the foundation document terms refer to
>> commonly understood meanings of words; looking to dictionaries,
>> encyclopedias, and common references.

> We're using the term program since the very first day of the DFSG
> and at that time the problematic of distributing firmware was not
> taken into account since firmware were generally in ROM and would
> not be installed dynamicly like today.

        Anything Debian was not and is not distributing is not a
 problem. And, you know, technically, these non-free programs can
 still be shipped out of non-free -- which is not part of the Debian

> So we could ask ourselves if the authors of the DFSG really meant to
> encompass the firmware or not, etc. But I find this game really
> stupid.  It's only semantic nitpicking in one side or in the other,
> and nobody wins by imposing his point of view using such methods.

        As I recall it, it we wanted to define everything that was on
 the CD. Bruce and Alex Yukhimets represented the either end of the
 spectrum on that, and Alex's viewpoint lost out.

> Let's face it, we're leading Debian together and we must take a
> decision together. The only good way of getting a decision and
> having everybody stick to the decision is to have a decision taken
> with fair rules. And fair rules are "simple majority".

        These are not our rules.  Our rules are the constitution --
 and legislating the value of Pi, which a couple of majority decisions
 did in the US in the past, demonstrates that a million people can
 still be wrong.

>> Calling firmware not programs is our own "special" definition of
>> firmware, and or program, and hence must be defined explicitly in
>> the DFSG.  If we want to state that we only consider certain
>> programs to be free, we ought to be upfront and clear about it in
>> our foundation document.

> I don't agree with your reasoning. I agree that firmware are special
> purpose programs.

        It is not my reasoning. This is the result of a simple online
 search; but has been substantiated (but don't take my word for it) by
 reference libraries like the ACM and IEEE digital libraries as
 well.  Every single reference I found called firmware computrer
 programs -- special purpose, perhaps, but the DFSG does not
 distinguish between the purpose of the programs in Debian. It says
 uncategorically "programs".

> But the text of Steve is quite clear: "4. [The project] determines
> that for the purposes of DFSG #2, device firmware shall also not be
> considered a program.".

        Well, we are of course free to add such clarifications and
 codicils to the DFSG.

> We know they are special subclass of programs, but for various
> reasons, we don't want to consider them as programs when applying
> our rules. A simple majority ought to be enough to determine
> that. Remember the G in DFSG, it stands for "guidelines"... we have
> the right to apply our guidelines in the way we think is best to
> achieve our goal (which is BTW defined in the social contract).

        If we so believe, let us modify the DFSG to say so
 clearly. Anything less is confusing, and could deceive people into
 believing that the social contract can be read as it is written.

Swipple's Rule of Order: He who shouts the loudest has the floor.
Manoj Srivastava   <srivasta@debian.org>  <http://www.debian.org/%7Esrivasta/>
1024D/BF24424C print 4966 F272 D093 B493 410B  924B 21BA DABB BF24 424C

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