The Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG)

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crankypuss

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Jan 22, 2016, 2:19:06 AM1/22/16
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https://www.debian.org/social_contract#guidelines

1. Free Redistribution

"The license of a Debian component may not restrict any party from
selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate
software distribution containing programs from several different
sources. The license may not require a royalty or other fee for such
sale."

5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

"The license must not discriminate against any person or group of
persons."


THE CONFLICT:

By allowing "free" software to be sold, discrimination against the poor
is implemented by whatever corporations find it profitable to sell the
software. The people who actually did the work of writing the software
are thereby made the unpaid workers of whatever corporation chooses to
use the software they have written, and furthermore free software
developers are restricted to their unpaid status by the royalty
prohibition.

Selling free software is wrong; if it is profitable for commercial
interests to use free software in for-sale products, they will certainly
do so, and smile all the way to the bank.

Meanwhile, the individuals who have given their efforts on behalf of
free software continue to be constrained by "intellectual property"
agreements they must sign as a condition of employment.

You're being used, people.

Truly free software is free both in terms of liberty and in terms of
beer; what is called "Free Software" is free-beer for those who wish to
profit from selling it.

I say that truly free software ought not be subject to sale under any
conditions.

--
http://totally-portable-software.blogspot.com
[Sun Nov 22: "Total Portability is not binary"]

Marek Novotny

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Jan 22, 2016, 5:35:37 AM1/22/16
to
Typically it is not the software being sold. It is support. Just look at
Red Hat. You can go grab CentOS and it is totally free and virtually
identical.

Sometimes you'll see someone selling USB thumb drives with the bootable
distro on it. The service of making the image bootable and the thumb
drive itself are for sale.

Imagine you are the CEO of a large corporation with tens of thousands
of employees. Your CFO is once again sharing the cost this company
pays to license software critical to each of the tens of thousands of
employees. At 50,000 users each requiring a modest $35 in licensing fees
your annual cost reaches $1,750,000.

The cost of licensing is somewhat one-sided. The more you use these
applications the more dependent your company are on this third party
which licenses the software to you. In fact, sometimes you feel like you
are being lead around and somewhat forced to upgrade when you'd rather
not. But what recourse do you have? Your employees have used the software
for years and they know the application well.

You know your business well and you're friends with your competitors. You
go to trade shows and you discuss your issues with those in similar
circumstances as you. Together you feel that perhaps there is a better
what to deal with software you ultimately rely on.

Your tech people do a bit of digging and find that there are open source
alternatives but these applications don't offer all the features your
employees have come to rely on. If you are to adopt this open source
software you're going to need to have a voice on the direction this
software takes such that you have a say in new features and functions.

Knowing that you already spend $1.75 million annually for software
licensing you realize that those same dollars could be spent on developing
the open source application in such a way that the features your staff
requires are added to the software which is open source.

Ideally you'd rather spend less on this development than you
currently spend on licensing. After all, you are giving something
up initially. However, you are also gaining something in the long
run. Eventually you'll have all the features you need and since the
software is open source, you will not need to commit to the same funds
forever.

You take this idea to your competitors and together you decide that
all of you have something to gain by participating in developing this
software in a direction in which all of you benefit.

So you create a foundation. The dollars you contribute to the foundation
translates into your voting power. If you contribute 90% of the monies
the foundation collects overall, then you have 90% of the vote on how
those dollars are spent. So if all these founding members wish to have an
equal vote, they will all need to contribute an equal amount. And by doing
that each participant contributes to the cost of developing features and
functions their staff requires. Because you and others have contributed
funds, the funds collected are substantial allowing many developers to
be hired full-time. Within the first year many of the features which
didn't exist now do exist. You're well on your way to replacing the
proprietary software with the open source software you helped develop
through your joint involvement in the open source community.

Because the software is open source, some who are content with the
features as they are and can download and use the software at no cost to
them. The more people that use the software the more of an industry
standard it becomes.

Over the years other companies join the foundation and contribute as
well. They want a vote because they have features they need and feel it
is the smarter way to get what they need without being confined to the
proprietary aspects of Microsoft. Instead of being walled in they would
rather be free.

As the founding members become content with the software they may drop
their funding and their vote while others whom want to add features
increase their own funding and vote to obtain what they want.

This is an example of why and how voting power is tied to
contribution. The direction software takes is a direct result of those
that contribute to its development. Without contributors the software
cannot be maintained. Make no mistake, everyone benefits. The question
is who sets the direction of the development? And the answer; those whom
contribute to its development. It doesn't have to be money. I can also
be a developer who simply develops the app to further his or her own
agenda. Maybe they wish to put their involvement in their resume. Maybe
they simply want to stay sharp and like to code and contribute. They're
not mindless morons. They have their reasons for contributing.

--
Marek Novotny
https://github.com/marek-novotny

Marek Novotny

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Jan 22, 2016, 10:53:53 AM1/22/16
to
On 2016-01-22, Bud Frede <fr...@mouse-potato.com> wrote:
> crankypuss <inv...@invalid.invalid> writes:
>
>>
>> THE CONFLICT:
>>
>> By allowing "free" software to be sold, discrimination against the poor
>> is implemented by whatever corporations find it profitable to sell the
>> software. The people who actually did the work of writing the software
>> are thereby made the unpaid workers of whatever corporation chooses to
>> use the software they have written, and furthermore free software
>> developers are restricted to their unpaid status by the royalty
>> prohibition.
>
> The source code is available, so any corporation selling the software has to give
> its customers a valid reason to make a purchase. Otherwise someone will
> simply compile and package the software and make it freely available and
> everyone will use that rather than buying it from the corporation.
>
>>
>> Selling free software is wrong; if it is profitable for commercial
>> interests to use free software in for-sale products, they will certainly
>> do so, and smile all the way to the bank.
>
> The idea behind free software is that anyone can use it - including
> businesses. There is a difference in philosophy between, for instance,
> the FSF with the GPL and some of the *BSDs with the BSDL. Some
> developers prefer one approach and some the other.

I'm also a user of FreeBSD. It is excellent software. I prefer Linux to
it, but if Linux didn't exist I'd be on freeBSD right now. But I happen
to really believe in the GPL 2. I think part of the reason the Linux
kernel has been developed so quickly is because of the GPL v2. Had it
been on the BSD license I think it wouldn't be the success it is today.

I'm a huge fan of ZFS though. I use FreeNAS and absolutely love it.

>> Meanwhile, the individuals who have given their efforts on behalf of
>> free software continue to be constrained by "intellectual property"
>> agreements they must sign as a condition of employment.
>
> That's a separate issue. I think that the patent system and this whole
> "intellectual property" thing need to be reworked, but the lawmakers are
> on the side of those who donate lots of money, and businesses have that money.

In my mind I'd much rather contribute to open source than proprietary.
For one thing I'd like to be able to show my code to anyone. I'd like to
be able to reuse it freely. I can't do either with proprietary software.
That is actually a big deal. I wouldn't even know how to cope with
someone else owning the code I wrote. That just seems weird to me. You
work for someone like Microsoft and over the years you really become
this exceptional programmer. Of course there are going to be particular
sub-routines you're very proud of. But you can't re-use them else where
and you can show them off to a perspective new employer. That's actually
soul crushing in my opinion.

crankypuss

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Jan 22, 2016, 4:50:19 PM1/22/16
to
Yes, and the ability to provide support for pay may be motivation enough
for some to get things working but leave them... less than perfect,
difficult to configure, and so forth.

> Sometimes you'll see someone selling USB thumb drives with the
> bootable distro on it. The service of making the image bootable and
> the thumb drive itself are for sale.

Yes, it is; I think it shouldn't be. I think that instead of selling
free software, people should shoulder the expense of distributing it as
the price of their freedom to use it, improve it, and so forth.

> Imagine you are the CEO of a large corporation with tens of thousands
> of employees. Your CFO is once again sharing the cost this company
> pays to license software critical to each of the tens of thousands of
> employees. At 50,000 users each requiring a modest $35 in licensing
> fees your annual cost reaches $1,750,000.

Cool, as that CEO there's an opportunity for me to save $1,750,000 at
the expense of some bunch of developers who don't have the sense to
demand that if they are being unpaid for the work, nobody should slime
money from it just because they are salespeople who will profit wherever
there's a nickel to be made.

> The cost of licensing is somewhat one-sided. The more you use these
> applications the more dependent your company are on this third party
> which licenses the software to you. In fact, sometimes you feel like
> you are being lead around and somewhat forced to upgrade when you'd
> rather not. But what recourse do you have? Your employees have used
> the software for years and they know the application well.
>
> You know your business well and you're friends with your competitors.
> You go to trade shows and you discuss your issues with those in
> similar circumstances as you. Together you feel that perhaps there is
> a better what to deal with software you ultimately rely on.
>
> Your tech people do a bit of digging and find that there are open
> source alternatives but these applications don't offer all the
> features your employees have come to rely on. If you are to adopt this
> open source software you're going to need to have a voice on the
> direction this software takes such that you have a say in new features
> and functions.

NO, you're not, imo; what you should have as a corporate user is the
opportunity to hire some developers to add the functionality that your
employees have come to rely on, and then you can look generous when you
let them contribute their improvements to the free source world.

> Knowing that you already spend $1.75 million annually for software
> licensing you realize that those same dollars could be spent on
> developing the open source application in such a way that the features
> your staff requires are added to the software which is open source.
>
> Ideally you'd rather spend less on this development than you
> currently spend on licensing. After all, you are giving something
> up initially. However, you are also gaining something in the long
> run. Eventually you'll have all the features you need and since the
> software is open source, you will not need to commit to the same funds
> forever.
>
> You take this idea to your competitors and together you decide that
> all of you have something to gain by participating in developing this
> software in a direction in which all of you benefit.

Yeah, you see an opportunity to take advantage of developers who "have
to work a day-job".

> So you create a foundation. The dollars you contribute to the
> foundation translates into your voting power. If you contribute 90% of
> the monies the foundation collects overall, then you have 90% of the
> vote on how those dollars are spent.

You have just enslaved the entire free-software community, maggot.

> So if all these founding members
> wish to have an equal vote, they will all need to contribute an equal
> amount. And by doing that each participant contributes to the cost of
> developing features and functions their staff requires. Because you
> and others have contributed funds, the funds collected are substantial
> allowing many developers to be hired full-time.

Thus adding a level of formal deniability to their enslavement, look
they have day jobs, and if they don't work a full 8 hours a day on free-
software we can put them on some of those fugly billing-system problems.

> Within the first year
> many of the features which didn't exist now do exist. You're well on
> your way to replacing the proprietary software with the open source
> software you helped develop through your joint involvement in the open
> source community.

And, you've saved a boatload of money.

> Because the software is open source, some who are content with the
> features as they are and can download and use the software at no cost
> to them. The more people that use the software the more of an industry
> standard it becomes.
>
> Over the years other companies join the foundation and contribute as
> well. They want a vote because they have features they need and feel
> it is the smarter way to get what they need without being confined to
> the proprietary aspects of Microsoft. Instead of being walled in they
> would rather be free.
>
> As the founding members become content with the software they may drop
> their funding and their vote while others whom want to add features
> increase their own funding and vote to obtain what they want.
>
> This is an example of why and how voting power is tied to
> contribution. The direction software takes is a direct result of those
> that contribute to its development.

If the developers of free software were free, *they* would be setting
the direction that *they* prefer, they wouldn't be taking orders from
some loaded committee owned by a corporation of profiteers.

> Without contributors the software
> cannot be maintained.

You're a young man, maybe still a little naive, probably without a lot
of experience as a developer; no fault there, maybe a bit of good
fortune. I have maintained a great deal of "free" software, that I
chose to write in my spare time, but it was within a large corporation.

It is the software that developers choose to write because they need it
that turns out to be the best, not what management assigned to them
because management thinks that is what's needed; management often does
not have the first clue about what's actually causing a problem, they're
far more concerned with whatever they're taking heat from their bosses
on.

> Make no mistake, everyone benefits. The question
> is who sets the direction of the development? And the answer; those
> whom contribute to its development.

Pardon me, but you should be ashamed for making whores out of developers
who are being herded down the financial chute to the abbatoir of poverty
in retirement.

> It doesn't have to be money. I can
> also be a developer who simply develops the app to further his or her
> own agenda. Maybe they wish to put their involvement in their resume.
> Maybe they simply want to stay sharp and like to code and contribute.
> They're not mindless morons. They have their reasons for contributing.

They're not mindless morons, but financial pressure makes them act that
way.

I've said my piece, I think that I've probably been fairly clear, enough
from me on this topic.

crankypuss

unread,
Jan 22, 2016, 5:43:30 PM1/22/16
to
Bud Frede wrote:

> crankypuss <inv...@invalid.invalid> writes:
>
>>
>> THE CONFLICT:
>>
>> By allowing "free" software to be sold, discrimination against the
>> poor is implemented by whatever corporations find it profitable to
>> sell the
>> software. The people who actually did the work of writing the
>> software are thereby made the unpaid workers of whatever corporation
>> chooses to use the software they have written, and furthermore free
>> software developers are restricted to their unpaid status by the
>> royalty prohibition.
>
> The source code is available, so any corporation selling the software
> has to give its customers a valid reason to make a purchase. Otherwise
> someone will simply compile and package the software and make it
> freely available and everyone will use that rather than buying it from
> the corporation.

Well, you might, or I might, but Aunt Sally just wants something that
isn't Microsoft. And imo "most people" are more like Aunt Sally than
they are like a couple of geeks who might want to see what makes it tick
(no offense intended).

>>
>> Selling free software is wrong; if it is profitable for commercial
>> interests to use free software in for-sale products, they will
>> certainly do so, and smile all the way to the bank.
>
> The idea behind free software is that anyone can use it - including
> businesses. There is a difference in philosophy between, for instance,
> the FSF with the GPL and some of the *BSDs with the BSDL. Some
> developers prefer one approach and some the other.

Frankly I kind of prefer the Anarchist's License (aka, "Public Domain"),
because it's open and aboveboard with no attempt to deny that people are
capable of stealing it no matter what the license provisions are.

>>
>> Meanwhile, the individuals who have given their efforts on behalf of
>> free software continue to be constrained by "intellectual property"
>> agreements they must sign as a condition of employment.
>
> That's a separate issue. I think that the patent system and this whole
> "intellectual property" thing need to be reworked, but the lawmakers
> are on the side of those who donate lots of money, and businesses have
> that money.

Are you saying that free software is a corporate-ocracy? That's enough
reason right there for me to just keep my junk to myself and let
everybody else go fish, unless they bump into me on sneakernet, because
corporations are... not my cup of tea.

>>
>> You're being used, people.
>>
>> Truly free software is free both in terms of liberty and in terms of
>> beer; what is called "Free Software" is free-beer for those who wish
>> to profit from selling it.
>>
>> I say that truly free software ought not be subject to sale under any
>> conditions.
>
> I think you need to do some reading.

Maybe. I remember when I first heard about Stallman and the FSF back in
the '80s, I was working a developer job and thought he was fronting some
communist plot. These days I have a different opinion, but that's maybe
off-topic.

> https://www.fsf.org/about/what-is-free-software

"What if anyone could be a part of and benefit from this community even
without being a computer expert or knowing anything about programming?"

Well in that case Aunt Sally wouldn't be compiling the code, would she.


> https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

"With these freedoms, the users (both individually and collectively)
control the program and what it does for them. When users don't control
the program, we call it a “nonfree” or “proprietary” program. The
nonfree program controls the users, and the developer controls the
program; this makes the program an instrument of unjust power."

Since the money-investors control the corporations, and the corporations
generally control the developers (who have to pay the money-investor
group known as "landlords" or "mortgage companies"), money-investors
control the program, so "we call [it] a 'nonfree' or 'proprietary'
program".


> https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/philosophy.html

"Software differs from material objects—such as chairs, sandwiches, and
gasoline—in that it can be copied and changed much more easily. These
facilities are why software is useful; we believe a program's users
should be free to take advantage of them, not solely its developer."

The implication is clear there that the user becomes a developer when he
changes the program. When users do not, like Aunt Sally, things may
become slightly different.

crankypuss

unread,
Jan 22, 2016, 5:58:14 PM1/22/16
to
Marek Novotny wrote:

> In my mind I'd much rather contribute to open source than proprietary.
> For one thing I'd like to be able to show my code to anyone. I'd like
> to be able to reuse it freely. I can't do either with proprietary
> software. That is actually a big deal. I wouldn't even know how to
> cope with someone else owning the code I wrote.

Hey, I coped with it from the time I graduated college until I retired,
you're a bright guy, why wouldn't you be able to cope with it? Here's
why: when they own your code, they own you. You'd be whoring out to pay
the landlord. I hated it. It's abusive. I was forced to pick up so
many bad habits to meet specs and guidelines (that were mostly bullshit
for morons) that it took me 15 years to recover from it and look C in
the eye without flinching again (though I always flinched a little at C,
a little more at C++; it's been hell since Assembler went away).

> That just seems weird
> to me. You work for someone like Microsoft and over the years you
> really become this exceptional programmer. Of course there are going
> to be particular sub-routines you're very proud of. But you can't
> re-use them else where and you can show them off to a perspective new
> employer. That's actually soul crushing in my opinion.

Sometimes large companies have their own internal networks. That gives
plenty of opportunity to show-and-share within the company. Sometimes
they give you a carrot for it. The down-payment on my first house was a
carrot.

I'm going through a period of mixed desires; I'd like to invent some
things and make all the money in the world, but I'm damned if I'll be
the government's unpaid accountant, and I'm not interested in paying
taxes to support an expanded military to back a bunch of unwarranted
chest-pounding. So, I just do what I choose, and try to figure out how
to start a world-demonetization foundation or something in my spare time
left over from playing. Retirement is good.

William Unruh

unread,
Jan 22, 2016, 6:02:39 PM1/22/16
to
Some more pissing into the wind? You might well have certain desires and
are of course completely free to handle your own software any way you
like. You can give it away, you can sell it, you can hide it, etc. Just
because that is what you do places no obligation on anyone else to do
the same.

It is really really unclear to me why you are getting into this fight,
other than liking to fight (that is called trolling by the way).


...

> You have just enslaved the entire free-software community, maggot.

Nope. He has not. They are not enslaved in any use of the term. They can
stop doing it whenever they like. They decided to release their software
under the GPL. Note that the user who passes it on MUST pass it on under
the same license. Thus that corporate entity cannot prevent any of their
customers from giving away the software. Thus the "compulsion to pay" is
not there, and the requrements for using the term "enslaved" is not
there. You are simply being silly.


...
>
> If the developers of free software were free, *they* would be setting
> the direction that *they* prefer, they wouldn't be taking orders from
> some loaded committee owned by a corporation of profiteers.

They are not taking any such orders.

> You're a young man, maybe still a little naive, probably without a lot

And you are an obnoxious patronizing old man. Is there anything that using language
like this helps?

>

William Unruh

unread,
Jan 22, 2016, 6:08:26 PM1/22/16
to
On 2016-01-22, crankypuss <inv...@invalid.invalid> wrote:
> Bud Frede wrote:
>
> Frankly I kind of prefer the Anarchist's License (aka, "Public Domain"),
> because it's open and aboveboard with no attempt to deny that people are
> capable of stealing it no matter what the license provisions are.

There is no such license. "public domain" is a term of law, and you
saying something is public domain is not one of the conditions that
brings that definition into play. You cannot make a license which is
"public domain". You still own the copyright. You can change your mind
at any time. A license is just that, you grant rights to copy to
someone else under certain conditions. As long as they obey those
conditions they can copy it. You could say that they are free to copy it
under any conditions, but that is not public domain. That is a license.



>

John Hasler

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Jan 22, 2016, 6:40:17 PM1/22/16
to
William Unruh writes:
> A license is just that, you grant rights to copy to someone else under
> certain conditions. As long as they obey those conditions they can
> copy it. You could say that they are free to copy it under any
> conditions, but that is not public domain. That is a license.

And even that is not enough. Most jurisdictions have inalienable
"author's rights" which cannot be licensed or contracted away. USA law,
for example, provides for a "right of reversion":
http://www.copyright.gov/docs/203.html

However, I'm sure that a USA Federal judge would interpret "This work is
hereby placed in the public domain" or similar as intended.
--
John Hasler
jha...@newsguy.com
Dancing Horse Hill
Elmwood, WI USA

William Unruh

unread,
Jan 22, 2016, 7:34:33 PM1/22/16
to
On 2016-01-22, John Hasler <jha...@newsguy.com> wrote:
> William Unruh writes:
>> A license is just that, you grant rights to copy to someone else under
>> certain conditions. As long as they obey those conditions they can
>> copy it. You could say that they are free to copy it under any
>> conditions, but that is not public domain. That is a license.
>
> And even that is not enough. Most jurisdictions have inalienable
> "author's rights" which cannot be licensed or contracted away. USA law,
> for example, provides for a "right of reversion":
> http://www.copyright.gov/docs/203.html
>
> However, I'm sure that a USA Federal judge would interpret "This work is
> hereby placed in the public domain" or similar as intended.

And tomorrow you change your mind and you place "This code is under the
following license..." and it is very restrictive. Then you would have to
prove that you obtained the code under that previous license (public
domain) and that the person who gave it to you had the right to do so
(transfer of license). And there you would be, up the proverbial legal
creek.

Jasen Betts

unread,
Jan 23, 2016, 12:01:11 AM1/23/16
to
On 2016-01-22, crankypuss <inv...@invalid.invalid> wrote:
> https://www.debian.org/social_contract#guidelines
>
> 1. Free Redistribution
>
> "The license of a Debian component may not restrict any party from
> selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate
> software distribution containing programs from several different
> sources. The license may not require a royalty or other fee for such
> sale."
>
> 5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
>
> "The license must not discriminate against any person or group of
> persons."
>
>
> THE CONFLICT:
>
> By allowing "free" software to be sold, discrimination against the poor
> is implemented by whatever corporations find it profitable to sell the
> software. The people who actually did the work of writing the software
> are thereby made the unpaid workers of whatever corporation chooses to
> use the software they have written, and furthermore free software
> developers are restricted to their unpaid status by the royalty
> prohibition.

By disallowing sale there are fewer distribution options...
I like that I can order a server from Supermicro with Debian
pre-instlled. (I don't like their use of the same default passwords)

> Selling free software is wrong; if it is profitable for commercial
> interests to use free software in for-sale products, they will certainly
> do so, and smile all the way to the bank.

The thing is the bit that says "or giving away". Those selling it can't
stop their customers from giving away copies, so market forces will reduce
the sale price to compensate.

Do you object to android pre installed on phones and tablets too?

> Meanwhile, the individuals who have given their efforts on behalf of
> free software continue to be constrained by "intellectual property"
> agreements they must sign as a condition of employment.

"We own your dreams" I don't think I could sign that. I'm fairly
sure my current contract only applies to work done while being paid.


--
\_(ツ)_

crankypuss

unread,
Jan 23, 2016, 5:27:44 AM1/23/16
to
Jasen Betts wrote:

> "We own your dreams" I don't think I could sign that. I'm fairly
> sure my current contract only applies to work done while being paid.

If you are salaried, which hours are you "being paid" and which hours
are you not? Do you have a written statement from your employer that
such-and-so are your fixed working hours, that other than those hours
are yours?

Whatever flies your kite is fine with me, it's not my kite.

Shadow

unread,
Feb 15, 2016, 8:32:47 AM2/15/16
to
On Fri, 22 Jan 2016 22:59:52 -0000 (UTC), William Unruh
<un...@invalid.ca> wrote:

>Thus that corporate entity cannot prevent any of their
>customers from giving away the software.

Partly true. The Canonical licence** prohibits giving away the
software. Not the source code, but sometimes it's a PITA to get all
the deps to compile it yourself.
[]'s

** Not sure if they changed that.
--
Don't be evil - Google 2004
We have a new policy - Google 2012

Jasen Betts

unread,
Feb 16, 2016, 5:01:04 AM2/16/16
to
On 2016-02-15, Shadow <S...@dow.br> wrote:
> On Fri, 22 Jan 2016 22:59:52 -0000 (UTC), William Unruh
><un...@invalid.ca> wrote:
>
>>Thus that corporate entity cannot prevent any of their
>>customers from giving away the software.
>
> Partly true. The Canonical licence** prohibits giving away the
> software. Not the source code, but sometimes it's a PITA to get all
> the deps to compile it yourself.

apt-get build-dep ... usually does a good of that.



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Feb 16, 2016, 5:49:49 AM2/16/16
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Yes, that is a useful command. It sucks though when it's an
old app and some of the stuff you need are images and tables, and the
author has closed down his page.
Try compiling Pidgin, then imagine if the guy had closed down.
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