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

From: Michal Suchanek
Subject: Re: Niches for the Hurd: evaluation method; was: DRM musings, capabilities and stuff
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2008 12:43:45 +0100

On 29/12/2008, Arne Babenhauserheide <arne_bab@web.de> wrote:
> 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.

Yes, it does. But with DRM content protection it is not the system
what makes the computer useless but the services or devices outside of
the computer that would require a particular version of the system. I
do not see how you can prevent this by the system itself or any
license except by disallowing to run any not-free-enough (lgpl, gpl
<3, bsd, non-free) application on the system altogether.

This would prevent such scheme but would greatly limit user choice and
the utility of such system.

>  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 :)

In this case the code change would not make the system cease to work,
it would render some applications (which must be non-free to perform
their function and thus not part of the system) unusable on the

>  > >  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.

Probably not that clearly then. I fail to see how a system design can
make a decision hard. It may come with poor documentation but that's
all it can do in this regard.

You asked why I continue this discussion.

I wanted to know if you plan implementing something in the Hurd to
make it interesting enough for me. Thus the "brainstorming' thread
attracted my attention.

I also wanted to know how Hurd is going to be set apart from
supposedly 'drm-ridden' Cyotos. I wanted to see if there is some
significant technical difference and if it can be backported to other
systems since you seem too bound to POSIX to make a system I would

I also wanted to clarify for myself what is sufficient to implement
DRM (since DRM content protection is painted to be the threat of the
century, and it could indeed lead to catastrophic results if
implemented pervasively) and how a system would have to be constructed
to not allow it for which discussion seems to be useful.

I think that we arrived at simple formulation of the above so for me
the discussion probably ends here.



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