Re: A reminder about the facts

From: Kaz Kylheku <>
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 1997 17:23:24 -0700 (PDT)

On Mon, 2 Jun 1997, Richard Stallman wrote:

> The free software community is now in a hole. We need a good free
> curses package for free operating systems, and the one we thought we
> had, we do not have. I can see three possible ways we can come up
> with one:

That is a funny way of looking at it. We clearly ``have'' ncurses. I think
that its restrictions are an advantage because the authors can exercise
superior version and quality control. It prevents the ``too many chefs in the
kitchen'' syndrome.

> * ESR and Zeyd together can agree to permit distribution of modified
> versions and thus make ncurses free software.

I don't think they have ever had a problem with that; they just don't want
to see patched version masquerading as ``official'' ncurses releases.
If that is allowed to happen, chaos results. The user doesn't know what the
heck he or she is getting. E&Z never objected to helpful patches, but to
someone taking charge of the project. Assuming that T.E.D. is considered
an equal developer, he only represents 33.3% vote---hardly a deciding majority
in making decisions about the project such as what goes constitutes a release
and when it should come out. Yet he has acted on his own as if he were
competing with the others. This is not mature behavior.

Let's face it, even the GPL does not allow rampant, ``invisible''
modification; the rules require that changes be clearly designated in the
source file and marked with the modification date. This is a minor, but real
restriction. I quote:

          Also, for each author's protection and ours, we want to make certain
        that everyone understands that there is no warranty for this free
        software. If the software is modified by someone else and passed on, we
        want its recipients to know that what they have is not the original, so
        that any problems introduced by others will not reflect on the original
        authors' reputations.


          2. You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion
        of it, thus forming a work based on the Program, and copy and
        distribute such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1
        above, provided that you also meet all of these conditions:

            a) You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices
            stating that you changed the files and the date of any change.

            b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in
            whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any
            part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
            parties under the terms of this License.

            c) If the modified program normally reads commands interactively
            when run, you must cause it, when started running for such
            interactive use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an
            announcement including an appropriate copyright notice and a
            notice that there is no warranty (or else, saying that you provide
            a warranty) and that users may redistribute the program under
            these conditions, and telling the user how to view a copy of this
            License. (Exception: if the Program itself is interactive but
            does not normally print such an announcement, your work based on
            the Program is not required to print an announcement.)

Whew! All these restrictions!

Clearly if Ncurses _were_ under the GPL right now, T.E.D would still be in
contravention, since he is purporting that his unofficial releases are in fact
the real thing. Problems introduced in his changes do reflect on the
reputations of E&Z.
Received on Mon Jun 02 1997 - 20:28:36 EDT

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