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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] MAME emulator is giving incentive to use non-free

From: alírio eyng
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] MAME emulator is giving incentive to use non-free software
Date: Sun, 3 Apr 2016 18:36:17 +0000

Tobias Platen:
> Emulators can be useful for reverse engineering
reverse engineering is the action of understanding undocumented
interfaces (mostly hardware).
emulators are the _result_ of reverse engineering, not tools to do it.
this result is useless if there's no other interface implementations
to develop things to or free software requiring it to run.

> In the case of MAME at least some files will be usable to build new works.
sure, but if they are to be used as source, this don't justify
inclusion of executables in a free distro.

> Some of those old FM-based sound synthesizer chips are emulated with MAME
sounds like obsolete api, is there any reason to use it instead of
using sound synthesizer software?

> Ndiswrapper is a different case, because it implements a proprietary 
> interface of the Windows Kernel.
"proprietary interface" is misleading.
there are _undocumented_ interfaces and maybe _legally unusable_ interfaces [1].
ndiswrapper implements an undocumented interface originally meant as
software (api).
mame implements undocumented interfaces originally meant as hardware.
the only difference is the original intentions, and i think they are
not relevant.

> sometimes I use Wine, but only when I need to reverse engineer a proprietary 
> format.
i think you meant you use nonfree software on top of wine with the
intention of reverse engineering it.
this is a compromise acceptable to use nonfree software, if "the use
of the nonfree software aims directly at putting an end to the use of
that very same nonfree software" [2].
but this isn't related to wine (or other emulators) at all and apply
to _all_ nonfree software.
free distros choose the compromise of making this a little harder by
not supporting nonfree software so people are not mislead in using it.
but it is still reasonably easy to opt-out of the free distro
whitelist and use nonfree software if wanted.


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