[conspire] SuSE Personal/Prof, apt4rpm, Newbie Ed. -was- Distros for novices

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Sep 9 13:48:05 PDT 2004

Quoting Christian Einfeldt (einfeldt at earthlink.net):

> When I interviewed Richard Stallman on Saturday for the Digital 
> Tipping Point film, he said that Argentina has come out with a 
> totally "free software" package called etutu-e or something like 
> that.  

Ututo-e is a distribution "en Espagñol" consisting solely of what most
of us call open source, and the FSF calls "free software".  ;->  Richard
is forever searching for distributions that have absolutely nothing to
do with proprietary (or, as he would say, "non-free") contents even as
optional add-ons.  For example, he's annoyed at the Debian Project for
having the default Debian installer offer access to the non-free package
collection, even though access to that collection is not included by
default, and even though Debian is formally defined as including only
the "main" collection.

A definition review, in order to maintain clarity:

  Open source software:  Software whose terms of distribution satisfy
  the Open Source Definition (OSD) or Debian Free Software Guidelines
  (DFSG) -- which documents are near-identical for historical reasons.
  The concept of open source roughly approximates the legal "right to fork",
  entailing both physical access to source code and the legal right to
  maintain it separately and use it for any purpose.  (FSF calls this
  "free software".)

  Proprietary software:  Software that for one reason or another is not
  open source.  This includes source-available software with
  restrictions on either third-party development or usage.  (FSF calls
  this "non-free software".)  Divides into:

     Source-available (but still proprietary) software:  E.g., you 
     can get source to the Java JDK or the "xv" graphics utility, but
     are denied the right to maintain it independently.  Or (e.g., 
     older PGP versions) you might have the right to maintain the 
     code but be restricted to non-commercial use without a separate
     for-money licence.

     Binary-only software:  E.g., almost all winmodem drivers.
     The right of third-party development is a non-issue in the 
     absence of source access -- which alone suffices to guarantee the
     "proprietary" classification.  Usage is typically also restricted
     (for what it's worth).

     Either type of proprietary software (above) may be either:

         Redistributable proprietary:  "Shareware", for example, always 
         tended to be restrictively licensed (as to usage and, where possible
         at all, as to third-party development), but everyone was strongly 
         encouraged to distribute it freely.  (One might divide this 
         category further between codebases redistributable without 
         limit and those with various picky gotchas, but let's not 
         go there.  The most frequent such gotcha is "non-commercial
         redistribution only", e.g., YaST.)

         Non-redistributable:  Any software for which the copyright
         holder hasn't granted a specific right of redistribution falls
         automatically into this category -- including a considerable
         amount of proprietary softare offered for download.

    Redistributable software:  This is an umbrella term encompassing
    both all open-source software and the redistributble portion of 
    proprietary software.

Please note that the common term "commercial software" is meaningless
in this context, as it can refer to either open source or proprietary
codebases.  Most people who say "commercial" mean "proprietary", but 
a minority of such speakers are just being vague.

Please note, too, that the Copyright Act (in the USA; similar statutes 
and the Berne Convention elsewhere) in effect specifies a "default 
licence" for works distributed in public without explicit terms
otherwise:  There's an implied right to compile (if necessary) and 
use the work, but no right to create derivatives or redistribute.
Conveying those rights requires some sort of explicity permission grant.

> Also, what about Knoppix?  

Redistributable software only.  Some proprietary packages (e.g., Atmel
firmware, IPW2100 firmware, Prism54 firmware).  And, oddly enough, 
Adobe Acrobat Reader -- which means Klaus Knopper et al. are violating
Adobe's copyright, unless they've gotten permission.  (Adobe licenses
individual distributors:  Acroread isn't otherwise lawful to
redistribute -- even though you can freely download it from adobe.com
and other authorised sites.)

> Or Xandros?  

Open Circulation Edition:  Redistributable software only.  (Several
Xandros-produced components are licensed for non-commercial

Standard Edition:  Has some non-redistributable components.

Deluxe Edition:  Has some non-redistributable components.

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