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Re: [edlug] Discussion: American Law

On 26/01/10 20:09, Keith Wyse wrote:


Well that sucks big time.
Essentially it is limiting the freedoms of free (as in speech)
software, not only for those in the black listed countries, but for us
who could have been on the receiving end of a great application
developed in one or more of those countries.
Free software was created for everyone, with no discrimination of any type.

While that's true, there's nothing in the license to say that one must distribute any particular application/source to *anyone*. What there is, is that any distributor is forbidden from limiting who their recipients may distribute to.

I suppose, when you add it up, there are really three main areas of concern -- the source repository, the source downloads and the community stuff (bug tracker, documentation, forums). The software downloads are the easiest to cover: SourceForge has mirrors in a large number of countries. That means that people in prohibited countries can generally get their downloads via a mirror, which is not ideal, but better than nothing.

Source repositories are hosted in Subversion are difficult to get access to. Groups using a DVCS are better served; mirroring the master repository in an accessible location is quite easy.

The most difficult issue is bug tracking. I've yet to see a completely satisfactory solution to distributed bug tracking. BestPractical's SD looks promising, and Ikiwiki hosts its own bug database in its VCS in Ikiwiki format :). Neither have picked up enough steam to be mainstream. Must try out SD...

This whole issue is, perhaps, an indicator that Free software groups shouldn't be entrusting their source repositories to a single entity, or even a single country. While it's often nice to have an 'official' central repository, it's a lot more robust to use a distributed VCS than a centralised system like Subversion, and the two are not mutually exclusive. I wonder how completely impractical it would be to mirror all of sf.net's subversion repositories in git (or bzr)? Technically, it's reasonably simple...

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