[tex-live] your eqexam package

cfrees at imapmail.org cfrees at imapmail.org
Fri Jul 9 17:19:07 CEST 2010

I was really determined not to respond to this thread... but now it is

On Fri 9th Jul, 2010 at 14:58, Philip Taylor (Webmaster, Ret'd) seems to...:

>> But please keep in mind that this is not only TeX Live's
>> policy, almost every open source O/S insists on the sources too.
>> Most TeX users on Linux are using a TeX Live shipped by the Linux
>> distro they are using and it would be a pity if Linux distributors
>> can't ship TL as it is.
> OK, let's start with the opening phrase of the second sentence :
> "Most TeX users on Linux".  Now I readily admit that I have no
> idea what fraction of the total users of TeX Live is represented
> by "TeX users on Linux", but I /suspect/ (and it is only a suspicion)
> that they don't represent the majority of users of TeX Live.
> Rather, I would suggest that the majority of users of TeX Live
> are represented by the recently stated view of Professor Martin :
> "for most of us ordinary users, having a working package with
> documentation is to be preferred to having no package included
> because its documentation has no source code", or perhaps even
> by my own view "for most of us ordinary users, having a working
> package with documentation is to be preferred to having a working
> package without documentation because its documentation has no
> source code".

This appears to assume that "TeX users on Linux" and "most ordinary 
users" are mutually exclusive. If TL cannot be included in their
distros, "ordinary TeX users on Linux" would miss much more than one or
two packages.

I think the important arguments here are probably not of this
pragmatic sort but it is worth pointing out that the pragmatic case is
not as clear cut as some people might be suggesting. (Indeed, this goes
both ways: the FSF's list of entirely free OSs excludes many (most?) of
the familiar distros on the grounds that they do not meet the criteria
for entirely free software.)

> So that really leaves us with the question "for whom is TeX Live
> intended".  If it is the group you identify (TeX users on Linux,
> using a version of TeX Live shipped with their Linux distribution),
> then I am sympathetic to your position even if I disagree with
> it; but if it is the group on behalf of whom Professor Martin
> and I are trying to speak ("the man on the Number 53 Clapham
> Common Omnibus"), then the present requirement to provide source
> for all documentation is counter-productive and I for one would
> urge that it be rescinded.

Even on these grounds, the best policy is not clear. It might be, for
example, that "ordinary users" benefit most from free packages with
free documentation and that including documentation which is not free
will reduce the number of available packages of this sort over time.
I'm not saying this is clearly the case but it seems at least possible.
If that's right, which policy would be in the "best interests" of
"ordinary users" (as they are being conceived here) would depend on the
degree to which the longer term benefits resulting from more free
packages with free documentation would outweigh the disadvantages of
having some packages for which documentation was available only online
(and, in extreme cases, some packages which were not available through
TL at all).

As I say, I'm inclined to think there are more fundamental principles
at stake here which matter (even to "ordinary users" who may not think
they matter to them). But I do not think those defending the current
policy need to concede the pragmatic case too readily if they do not
wish to.

- cfr

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