SamBC sambc at
Thu Aug 30 20:20:09 UTC 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Matthew C. Weigel [mailto:weigel+ at]
> Sent: 29 August 2001 21:37
> On Wed, 29 Aug 2001, SamBC wrote:
> How about the title?  I'm not saying that the general principles don't
> apply to free documentation - I'm saying that the exact set of
> trade-offs, made with an eye towards bringing the principles into the
> real world, were developed specifically for the 'real world' of
> software.
> Therefore, the principles behind the FSG and OSD still apply, but the
> FSG and OSD themselves do not.  You can certainly hold documentation to
> them, but that was not their intent.

They still work as guidelines, which is after all all they are.

> For instance, would 4. Integrity of The Author's Source Code (either
> one) mean that you could distribute modified PDFs of a patch-only
> document (since PDF is definitely not the "form of choice" for editing
> documents, and should probably qualify for being a binary), but not
> TeX?  What about HTML - should it be considered a "binary" form that
> you can distribute modified, or a "source" form that you can restrict
> to patches-only?

I guess so - after all, TeX is not a viewing-friendly format. Things like
HTML make life more difficult, and would have to be a per-license matter,
with each document having a specific 'source form' - in something like TeX
or SGML.

> > No reason diff shouldn't still work. A lot of gnu stuff has been
> > ported, and note mingw and cygwin, if people really want. But here
> > we're debating technicalities, as we agree in principle that patches
> > aren't good for docs.
> Yes.  If we started with the assumption that "printout" was the final
> output, akin to binary executables, they would be fine - you'd download
> the source in, for example, TeX, apply the patches included with your
> version of the software, and print it out.  But, most documentation is
> now viewed online, in 'raw' formats like HTML or nroff.  What's more,
> you have - between HTML, man2html.cgi, and PDF plugins - the ability
> and motivation to distribute modified documents willy nilly.

Or apply the patches and then render into a more widely viewable format.
These questions have many possible answers usually applicable to a smaller
range of cases

> There's a slim chance someone in the OSI is reading this, or your
> responses to it (at least the new webmaster hasn't killfiled me).
> Perhaps someone can explain why it *hasn't* been approved?  Shouldn't
> it be a priority, so that the much-respected W3C can get a spot on

They haven't listened yet... I hold out little hope.


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