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Re: MAME emulator is giving incentive to use non-free software

From: Jookia
Subject: Re: MAME emulator is giving incentive to use non-free software
Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2016 11:26:21 +1100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.24 (2015-08-30)

On Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 11:55:16PM +0200, Jean Louis wrote:
> I am free software user. I don't want my children to find MAME on my
> computer. I have 3 children. They will be using free software
> distributions, with free software BIOS on free hardware.
> I don't want my children to find MAME on computer. I don't want them to
> search for software in GuixSD and find MAME, and later to find ROMs,
> which are non-free.

There's a lot worse things they could be searching for, such as nonfree video
games or Skype. Guix gives them the freedom to package and install what they
want, so I guess that solution here is to teach them about nonfree software.

> Including MAME or any other emulator, even though non-free as such, if
> such emulator is practically of no use to free software users without
> non-free additions or parts, firmware, blobs, or ROMs, is giving
> incentive to free software users to use non-free.
> Put yourself in the view point of free software user. What such user is
> going to do with WINE? What is he/she/it going to do practically with
> MAME? Nothing. They will have no use of that software. Single cases are
> exceptions. Exceptions may download it themselves, they don't need to
> get it delivered by free software distribution of GNU.

One could argue this about free clients for websites that use nonfree
Javascript. MAME is finally free software, and I imagine it could be used for
teaching how computers work in a controlled environment for one. I think it's
extremely dangerous for us to decide what use software is for other people.

> My username is jmarciano. Please see discussion here:

While Dave sums up reality, I was surprised to learn of interesting uses that I
hadn't thought of:

> <paroneayea>  about wine
> <paroneayea>  I recently had a friend use Wine to run an old copy of Blender
> <paroneayea>  which is free software
> <paroneayea>  because he couldn't get the ancient version of blender
>               to load in any modern gnu/linux distro

I was even more surprised that MAME *is used for educational purposes* without
any ROMs at all:

> <rain1>       MAME's purpose is to preserve decades of software history. As
>         electronic technology continues to rush forward, MAME prevents this
>         important \"vintage\" software from being lost and forgotten. This is
>         achieved by documenting the hardware and how it functions. The source
>         code to MAME serves as this documentation

This also makes me wonder whether it'd be interesting to include free ROMs, like
Unix for the PDP-11.

> I cannot believe that MAME and WINE and such emulators are to be
> included in free software distributions. MAME clearly gives incentive to
> use non-free software.

Wine is probably one of the most important pieces of software we have for
liberating software. For instance, I can take free software that only runs on
Windows that's too hard to immediately port to GNU/Linux and run it, or begin a
transitional porting effort using Winelib.

Furthermore, this could be vital to running programs needed to bootstrap old
tools in the future, which Chris Webber alluded to.

> I am asking you to review and correct if possible, the inclusion of
> packages such as: WINE and MAME into GNU distribution GuixSD.
> Everybody can download WINE and MAME onto their computers. There may be
> legitimate reasons to use such software, but what about practical
> results?

How about we don't worry about what people can use software for but rather what
the software is? I have a feeling this email isn't going to satisfy you at all,
so I think the solution is to not use GuixSD or any system that gives people
freedom to run whatever software they want for whatever purpose they want.

> Jean Louis


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