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William F Hammond <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 20 Jul 2002 12:01:40 -0400
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Note to LATEX-L readers: it does indeed seem that Frank and David are
making progress in a reasonable negotiation at debian-legal towards a
reconciliation of LPPL and the Debian Free Software Guidelines.

There is something I do not understand:

Jeff Licquia <[log in to unmask]>, who seems to be the Debian spokesman,
writes in [log in to unmask] at 19 Jul 2002 16:09:59 -0500,

>  - A program is modifiable if a user has the legal right to change the
> program's behavior in an arbitrary way without excessive inconvenience
> or requirements.

Absolutely.  The LaTeX world has always had that.  There are, however,
both good and bad approaches.

I hope we are straight on the distinction between users and package
or class authors.  Everybody in the LaTeX world has freedom, but
the mechanisms for breakage-free exercise of that freedom depend on
the role.

> Now, the sticky word here is "excessive".  In one respect, LD_PRELOAD
> can be used to change any program's behavior no matter the license, but
> I think we'd agree that this would be an excessive requirement.


> Taken at a "stupid level", your requirement for filename changes also
> seems excessive.  At face value, the cascading change requirements
> (change references in this other file, which is also a change requiring
> rename, which means more references to the new file have to be changed,
> etc.) would make it nearly impossible to practically make changes to
> LaTeX.  Further, it's not clear whether further modifications beyond the
> first set require yet more name changes, for reasons I've discussed
> elsewhere.

I don't follow the allusion to cascading change requirements.

Could someone pose a simple example?  Or was the cascade a nightmare?

                                    -- Bill

Gratuitous marginally related postscript:  Workers needed.

A great deal of new freedom can be had by using an XML layout document
type that models LaTeX.  With that one can have all kinds of
processing pipelines for billions and billions of fussy taste-based
decisions using LaTeX typesetting at the end, with reliability resting
importantly on respect for LPPL.  GELLMU can be used for a
free-standing LaTeX-like markup interface to such a document type.
Please understand though that this is not about translating LaTeX
documents into XML;  it is for new documents.