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A Free Software Inquiry regarding Nintendo DS

From: Zen Lunatic
Subject: A Free Software Inquiry regarding Nintendo DS
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2005 14:22:15 -0500

A fellow free software user has made claims that he will be purchasing
and supporting the Nintendo DS. In case you didn't know here is a summary of what is a Nintendo DS:

The Nintendo DS (which is short for Dual Screen, although Nintendo has
also promotionally said it to be short for Developer's System, due to
the ease of development for the handheld), is an innovative
dual-screen portable video game console developed and manufactured by

Here is what this supposed free software supported has said in praise
regarding the DS:

"Anyway, what I am really impressed with is that Nintendo have made it
with a wireless lan for multiplayer, now what's great about this is
that for multiplayer games you only need one catridge.... Nintendo are
basically allowing us to share the game with our friends Very Happy
you basically just download the multiplayer part over the wireless lan
and can join a multiplayer game... Now to play single player you still
need your own cartridge, but really I don't mind..."

Here is the feature he is talking about (from 

Nintendo's own custom firmware boots the system: from here, the user
selects to run a DS or Game Boy Advance game, use PictoChat, or search
for downloadable games. The latter is an adaptation of the Game Boy
Advance's popular "single cartridge multiplayer" feature, adapted to
support the system's Wi-Fi link capabilities: players without the game
search for content, while players with the game broadcast it. In
November 2004, Nintendo announced its entry into the feature animation
business, suggesting that these features would broadcast game content
to Nintendo DS units via this same feature.

Now having grown up on non-free software and video-games, just as I
ate more candy and soda as a kid but now am smart enough to know this
isn't healthy, I know that when you purchase a game you are free to
sell the game and lend it to your friend. But I never thought this
meant the games were free software. What do you think? Should the DS
be praised by free software users because it allows users to download
for gratis the games wirelessly from other users who wish to versus a
user in a game? To me it still doesn't seem like these software-based
games are libre free. I'm hoping to share your response privately with
this free software user to hopefully enlighten him on the issue.

I have sent this to RMS and this list. Is gnu-misc-discuss the correct
list to send this to?

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