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Re: Niches for the Hurd: evaluation method; was: DRM musings, capabiliti


From: Arne Babenhauserheide
Subject: Re: Niches for the Hurd: evaluation method; was: DRM musings, capabilities and stuff
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2008 19:26:47 +0100
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Am Montag 29 Dezember 2008 17:23:45 schrieb Michal Suchanek:
> > Accessing some service which limits the system in a way which is
> > incompatible with the GPLv3 (as soon as central usage gets "interfered
> > with" when I change the code, distributing the system in non-source form
> > violates the GPLv3 [1]).
>
> I cannot parse the above paragraph.
> If GPLv3 requires that operating systems are distributed in source
> code only then it's stupid but it's probably trying to say something
> else.

It does say something else, yes. 

It says: Just because the software was modified, its usage mustn't be 
"interfered with". 

In Physics we have a concept for that: (infinitesimally) small pertubations. 
Such a pertubation must not disturb the functioning of the code. 

To put it in darn simple words: 


A major part of the spirit of free software is that I can change all software 
on my computer. 

If you devise some scheme with which I can't change the software anymore 
without making my computer useless, that violates the spirit of free software. 

The GPL protects the spirit of free software. 

Therefore distributing a system built on GPL licensed free software which 
ceases to do its job once one of its free parts gets modified has to violate 
the GPL. 

Since the GPLv3 was crafted with much participation from many skilled people, 
it really does that job. 


There is one exception, though: It doesn't disallow distributing these systems 
in source form. You only violate the GPL if you distribute the system in 
compiled form. 

I assume that the reason for that is that sourcecode is raw information, and 
the FSF doesn't want to restrict people from passing on information. They had 
to find a compromise between the goal of maximum freedom of users and maximum 
freedom of passing on code. 

What "ceases to do its job" means is very simple: Once an integral part ceases 
to work (like allowing some application to function) the software ceases to do 
its job. 

A small pertubation to the code must not affect the functioning of the system. 

And the GPLv3 says that you must not distribute a system (for example a cell 
phone) where a small change to a GPLv3 licensed program makes the system cease 
to do its job. 

Any you know what? 
Thank you for helping me to come up with that analogy! 
I really like it :) 

> >  So when I am the admin, a treacherous system is easier to use for
> > treachery, while a non-treachersous system is easier to use in an honest
> > and ethically sound way.
> >
> >  Non-free systems aren't open for discussion. They can't be used in an
> >  ethically sound way.
>
> What do you mean by "designed for treachery" here?

It is designed to make it hard for the admin of the system to decide whether 
DRM should be effective on his own system. 

I thought I said that often enough. 

Best wishes, 
Arne
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