etoys now available in Debian's non-free repository

K. K. Subramaniam subbukk at
Wed Jun 25 23:13:52 EDT 2008

On Wednesday 25 Jun 2008 12:08:44 am Albert Cahalan wrote:
> > *All the source code* for *every* piece of byte code in the
> > image is available, and not only that, we even *ship* it
> No. This is not true. You ship a binary blob. That doesn't
> count, even if so-called "source code" is viewable from
> within the blob.

You are confusing "binary" as in "secret encoding" with "binary" as 
in "encoding based on freely available specifications". A UTF-8 encoded file 
containing Mandarin or Hindi text would be unreadable on an ASCII text 
editor, but that doesn't make it a closed binary blob. A video file encoded 
using a secret patented codec would constitute a closed binary blob in the 
first sense since it cannot be decoded with publicly available readers nor 
can one be written without overriding someone's legal rights.

Squeak image is not a blob in the first sense. One can write a program to 
decode any image file and recover any data stored in it. The problem with the 
blob is not that it is closed, but it is monolithic and limited in capacity. 
The limit is not that restrictive for personal computing purposes, but it 
will hurt when one has to deal with audio/video clips, 3-D simulations or 
large databases. There is no checksum to verify integrity. Objects are stored 
higgedly piggedly making even partial recovery difficult. However, these are 
programming limits, not that of policy.


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