To the keepers of the holy grail of Open Source

Ben Tilly ben_tilly at
Tue Jan 23 18:41:37 UTC 2001

Bryan George <bgeorge at> wrote:
>David Johnson wrote:
> >
> > On Monday 22 January 2001 09:35 am, Bryan George wrote:
> >
> > > > Okay, I'm writing it down: "Audience = inflexible Unix bigots =>
> > > document = brain dead ASCII text".  Got it, thanks!
> >
> > Sigh...
> >
> > I don't have MS Office, and I am not about to pay for it. This has 
>nothing to
> > do with bigotry, but everything to do with my money, my harddrive space,
> > etc... And when it comes to a choice between rebooting the system to run 
> > document's native OS, or shelling out yet more money to get VMWare, I'll 
> > abstain.
>I'm just busting your chops a little, really... :)  You don't have to
>convince me of the need for a low-cost, accessible, open way to pass
>docs around - I just got a little tweaked with the "Real men use ASCII"
>crud. %b

I didn't say that real men use ASCII.  Merely that with
some audiences you have to if you want to be heard.

> > There are alternatives so use them. If the presentation you are sending 
> > comprised solely of verbal content, then ASCII is sufficient. If you 
> > some small amount of text formatting, try HTML. And if you need to 
> > the document's appearance exactly, try PDF.
>I was going to suggest that - presumably anyone with pockets for Office
>can pick up a copy of Acrobat as well, and the reader's free and

Why not pick up TeX?  The output looks about as good as
you will get, it can be presented as PDF, the source is
human-readable and small, and bit-rot is zero.

Oh, and both software for reading and creating is free.

OK, so it is not open source.  And before anyone points
me at standard GPLed packages for TeX, allow me to point
out that Knuth's software is under a license that does
not permit modifications.  IANAL, but AFAICS if you
incorporate work which you are not allowed to modify
into GPLed software, then you have no right to permit
modifications as required by section 2 of the GPL, and
under section 7 you are then not allowed to distribute
the GPLed work as a whole.

Not that Knuth is likely to complain unless someone
tries to modify it in some way.  (Like Slackware made the
mistake of doing a while ago...)

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