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Frank Mittelbach <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 15 Jul 2002 21:42:21 +0200
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Jeff Licquia wrote:

> On Sun, 2002-07-14 at 14:53, Steve Greenland wrote:
> > Uhh, that's a joke, right? Or have you really never used MS Word? As
> > someone who has had the misfortune[1] of using Word seriously for some
> > fairly large documents, I can assure that "static and predictable" is
> > not the phrase that comes to mind.
> Well, not having used Word for years, I couldn't say.  My intent was to
> communicate the LaTeX Project's wish that layout be identical for all
> LaTeX users and that any changes to layout issues be in their sole
> control.

Jeff got the LaTeX project's wish partly right and I thought I start here into
the discussion as this is one of the central parts behind the LPPL.

It is _not_ the wish of the LaTeX project to "control" the layout produced by
LaTeX nor is it the with the have an "identical layout" for all LaTeX users.

Instead it is the wish to give preserve for LaTeX users one of the most
fundamental features of TeX and LaTeX: the reliability that a document
produces identical results at different sites thus allowing LaTeX to be used
as an exchange media in collaborations, when preparing camera ready copy, etc.

This is very different from wanting to control the layout produced by LaTeX as
a whole or to freeze it in any sense. On the contrary, we are very interested
in the LaTeX community to improve the system and have it improved by new
people using it. But we wish to keep the fundamental feature intact as
well. For this reason the requirement to change the name of a package or class
file if modified is essential. With that as a requisite changes extensions,
whatever are very welcome by everybody and if you look at the amount of
development going on the in community (the majority done under LPPL) you can
see that people are neither hampered nor dissatisfied by the license goals.

granted LPPL is imperfect, certainly if you look at it from a purely legal
standpoint; however for the LATeX community it was in the past mainly a
framework to express some basic needs to keep the system stable and reliable
to the extend needed while at the same time allowing arbitrary extensions and
changes --- the fact that the license is now used for most of latex related
work should speak for itself.

so I very much open to simplify the license and/or make if legally more
bulletproof (if people really feel that is necessary) or what else is
necessary to make it acceptable in other communities that think they produce
maintain or know what "free" software is.

open with the exception of one point:

 - LaTeX needs clause 4 of debian guidelines, in fact that is central for us
   (and here I don't just speak of the team) but for very very many LaTeX
   users who also have some rights which is given to them through something
   like LPPL

and please try not to insult a whole community of people some of which have
already worked 15-20 years producing freely available and changable software
by calling what they do "unfree" or worse just because you don't like the fact
that we try to balance the right of programmers (getting free software) with
the right of the users of getting stable and reliable software. LPPL's model
is not right for everything, on the contrary, and many of us use GPL or other
licenses in other circumstances.

If you think that the goals behind LPPL (not talking about the way it is
expressed) are bad in general then I would like to pointout to you that you
have to include TeX itself (ie base behind everything written by Don Knuth)
which in my opinion was one of the very first "free software projects" ever as
it invokes clause 4 for exactly the same reason as LPPL.

> I suppose that'll teach me to use a Microsoft product as an example of
> stability and reliability. :-)

a good point. try it out, or ask people why for serious work they prefer to
work with a free but stable and reliable (as well as changable) LaTeX.


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