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Frank Mittelbach <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 16 Jul 2002 21:32:13 +0200
text/plain (159 lines)
Branden Robinson writes:
 > > but again, there is one major miss-statement in your sentence.  we don't
 > > restrict people from modifying files, we only ask them to do it in a way that
 > > is helps everybody (including them in the long run).
 > A requirement to rename *is* a restriction.

indeed, in so far as *any* codification of a procedural requirement is
restricting. But from that i can only conclude that you must be lobbying
against any license (since in one way or another all of them require
structured behaviour, for example Artistic has in clause 3 and 4 a number of
requirement which need to be (alternatively) fulfilled---and one of which is
rename nonstandard executables to avoid name clashes).

The license is however not "restricting modification" other than requiring a
procedure for it and through that modification anything is achievable, so your
modification possibilities are not restricted.

anyway all that is beside the point in my opinion as you correctly say ...

 > > the fact that in the "free software world" but outside LaTeX the importance
 > > of the goals aren't seen, as well as the fact that codifying those goals
 > > improved the situation within the LaTeX community a lot makes us believe that
 > > our approach in that particular situation is better.
 > You're certainly entitled to that belief, but sympathy doesn't render a
 > license "free" under the Debian Free Software Guidelines; only its terms
 > can do so.

... indeed---let's discuss DFSG terms. that is what i would like to discuss,
where please are the guidelines violated (and if indeed they are, discuss
how/if that can be rectified)

and as far as the requirement to change names in certain situation is
concerned, I don't see how that should clash with DFSG as it is covered by
clause 4.

 > > i understand that there are a large number of people (who work with other type
 > > of free software) that do not like the fact that we preserve some rights of
 > > the users of LaTeX
 > Can you enumerate what rights of the user you are preserving by
 > forbidding them from distributing modified files without changing the
 > filename?

I have tried to do that already in my posts to Jeff, please reread them. in a
nutshell: LaTeX is not just the installation on a local machine it is
the ability to communicate over a network of machines and to get identical
results in different places.  LPPL preserves the right of the user to get
identical output from identical input which is a major feature of TeX.

 > > It is certainly (a bit) more work to rename a file rather than to
 > > simply change it, but while I concur with you that for stuff which is
 > > essentially local to my environment this is fine (and thus something
 > > like GPL or whatever is appropriate) for the benefit of LaTeX as a
 > > freely extensible and changeable system for exchange of information it
 > > is not.
 > I hope you'll agree with me that this statement is a subjective analysis.

subjective analysis of what? sure it is subjective (what else should it be, I
am a subject) but so is most of what i've seen so far as arguments or rather
comments with respect to LPPL.


 > >  > Requirements of notification of modification in original source code and
 > >  > in program diagnostic output are perfectly acceptable under the DFSG;
 > >  > badging or watermarking the generated document while forbidding the
 > >  > removal of same would not be.
 > >
 > > sorry, you lost me. what exactly is there that would not be acceptable?
 > Asserting intellectual property right in the output of LaTeX would not
 > be acceptable[1].  Such an assertion would be logically required if you
 > put some indicator of modified-LaTeX status into users' output and
 > forbade them from removing that indicator.

ehh? who asks for that? are you saying that it is not allowed to require on
the terminal display (when a program starts) to ensure that it identifies
itself properly? There is no requirement whatsoever to identify itself in its
program output, eg on the printed page or something. All the license ask that
if it is not X it should not display claiming to be X.

if there is something in LPPL (not in any statements made in this list) from
which you wrongly got this impression, please point it out, since this is
clearly neither wanted nor needed.


 > > if you manage to do that I would have no qualms to change to different system
 > > or license, but not if that means the user has to read through potentially
 > > thousand of source files to find a file that makes his document work
 > > differently on his site than on others.
 > I'm sure there are lots of ways.  One possibility that springs to mind
 > that would not run afoul of the DFSG would be to require the existence
 > of a "flag file" in modified distributions of LaTeX.  The LaTeX engine
 > could look for this file at some convenience stage in its execution and
 > spew a warning to standard output or standard error[2].

sorry, but you missed the point about what LaTeX is: it is not just a core
distribution of the 20odd files (for those one could implement any scheme to
keep it sane, it is a few hundred different files written by many different
people and thereis no way to automatically detect a "standard" state for that
environment by software means easily.

 > I'm not a very
 > sophisticated TeX user, but I'm in the habit of reading the warnings it
 > gives me.  I've learned to ignore overfull and underfull hboxes, but
 > maybe real TeXperts have such self-confidence that they ignore
 > everything.  :)  In any event, it's the user's responsibility to read
 > the output the program gives him.

beside being nearly impossible to implement (if at all) that would be

And to be honnest what "seems to grate on me more than anything else" (to use
Jeff's words) are statements like your last sentence, ie the progammers view
of the type

  free software is to serve my private whims -- f*** the others

I hope i'm mistaken because otherwise there is no point in having any such

Why should the user if she asks for


as part of her document have to check each time she moves the file from one
installation to another that it is still the "caption" she thinks it is? if
she prefers the forged version she can use ccaption or caption2 package with
the advantage that all can coexist (and do) and also do so on the other side
of the ocean or whereever.


Again, please get back to the original goal of finding out if, and if so how,
LPPL would conflict with DFSG (and how to fix that if it is indeed the case)
and not argue on the level of statements of the type

  It appears that Debian's consensus is that forbidding the renaming of
  files is too large a stick to achieve your goal of notification of
  deviation from a standard.

which is (i hope you agree) nothing other than a subjective feeling not borne
out of any DFSG terms.

So far I have seen the comments by Jeff (who goes in a lot of detail through
the license, for which i would like to thank him, and to which i intend to get
back) but other than that, all I heard so far and repeatedly heard is "we
don't like that you use clause 4 and therefore it is a license  acceptable by
us" (though in more elaborate words).