[tex-live] acrotex files

Philip TAYLOR P.Taylor at Rhul.Ac.Uk
Sun Oct 4 00:44:26 CEST 2009

Dear Manuel --

 > I think Karl was serious, and as a matter of fact, I seriously agree with him.

Yes, I know that Karl was being serious, just as John McEnroe
knew perfectly well that the umpire was being serious : in
both cases, the interjection "You cannot be serious" is an
expression of incredulity and is not to be interpreted
literally ...

 > As a general rule, everything in Tl only depend on things that are also included
 > in TL, so that they are immediately usable without adding anything external.

I do not wish to seem flippant, but as far as I can see,
/nothing/ in TeX Live would be usable without an external
operating system, hardware, firmware, etc.  However,
reliance on some external component did not seem to lie
at the core of Karl's assertion : rather, he stated that
(in his belief) the problem lay in the fact that AcroTeX
depended on an external program (Adobe Acrobat) <stress>
that was non-free</>.

 > Now, you may ask why we don't make an exception for acrotex. Well, if we made
 > exceptions all the time, the general rule wouldn't be a rule, would it? Here,
 > there is no strong pragmatic reason to break the rule as there is for GS or Perl.

No, I do not ask for an exception to be made for AcroTeX;
rather, I ask the TeX Live team to be consistent : if it
is OK to supply binaries for a non-free platform (Windows),
then it is also OK to supply tools to support non-free
as-in-libre programs such as Adobe Acrobat.

 > Moreover, I think that, as free software developers, it is perfectly legitimate
 > for us to choose to give the priority to free software and things relying only
 > on free software (and the opposite choice may be legitimate too, depending on
 > the circumstances).

If you and the other members of the TeX Live team wish
TeX Live to evolve in such a way that it is of use only
to systems composed entirely of free-as-in-libre software,
then that is indeed your choice.  But if, on the other
hand, you are happy for TeX Live to continue to target
non-free platforms such as Microsoft Windows, then I
cannot see how you can legitimately seek to exclude
a component such as AcroTeX that also targets a non-free
as-in-libre program such as Adobe Acrobat.
 > So, I can understand you may disagree with our policy, but I hope I convinced
 > you that we are actually serious about it. By the way, we apply it consistently,
 > also excluding support files for non-free fonts, etc.

I can't decide whether this is an example of the Balkanisation
of TeX, an example of ethnic cleansing, or an overt case
of pathological zealotry, but no matter which, it leaves
me with a rather unpleasant taste in my mouth.

** Phil.

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