[Dev] [Assist] Does pilot-link comply with the FSDG? (was Re: Reporting bugs)

Ineiev ineiev at gnu.org
Mon Dec 24 15:42:51 GMT 2012

Hi, Michał!

On 12/24/2012 12:51 PM, Michał Masłowski wrote:
 > I think it does comply.  This part of the FSDG seems relevant:
 >> In general, something that helps people who already use nonfree
 >> software to use the free software better with it is acceptable, but
 >> something that encourages users of the free software to install
 >> nonfree software is not.
 >> For example, a free system distribution may have documentation for
 >> users setting up dual boot systems. It could explain how to access
 >> filesystems of the proprietary operating system, import settings from
 >> it, and so on. That would be helping people install a free system
 >> distribution on a machine which already has proprietary software,
 >> which is good.

Hmm. pilot-link doesn't help people install a free system on their
`pilots' (at the very least, I believe it doesn't advertise such an

 >> What would be unacceptable is for the documentation to give people
 >> instructions for installing a nonfree program on the system, or
 >> mention conveniences they might gain by doing so.
 > (I think these references to "documentation" instead of "software" are
 > not significant, these issues are more obvious to appear in
 > documentation.)
 > I haven't used pilot-link, what I have read about it suggests that:
 > - it's useful for users already using nonfree software on other machines

Being useful for nonfree software users is not bad; being useless
unless one uses nonfree software is.

 > - it might replace other nonfree software on the same machine, or make
 >   it easier to move to a free system

It makes it easier to move to a _nonfree_ system, for instance,
to migrate the handheld data to PalmOS.

It doesn't make it easier to move to a completely free system: as long
as somebody uses it, she'll use proprietary software; and if she uses
a PalmOS device and really wants to abandon it, she certainly already
has some program to export her data, and it doesn't matter whether
that program is free or not --- she once used some proprietary
programs, and after the migration she'll use neither PalmOS, nor that
whatever exporter.

 > - it refers to a nonfree operating system it works with
 > I think the same arguments apply to binutils (Windows-specific tools)
 > and GRUB (dual-booting documentation explictly naming Windows).

GRUB is definitely useful without Windows; so is binutils: even when
configured with Windows as the host or the target, the executables can
run on top of a free emulator (in theory. I don't think it is a good
idea for a FSDG-compliant distro to provide development packages
specifically targeted to proprietary systems).

Pilot-link supports no free system to `-link' to.

 > Are there specific cases of pilot-link availability in Parabola
 > encouraging users to start using PalmOS or other nonfree software?

I'm not sure how to reword this into a valid argument; perhaps it
can be done, but the maintainers hardly should wait for a real life
example in order to decide that the package encourages using
proprietary software.

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