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Debian removed perlreftut

by Juerd (Abbot)
on Aug 13, 2003 at 11:30 UTC ( #283510=perlnews: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

perl (5.8.0-19) unstable; urgency=low [...] * Remove non-free perlreftut(1) manual page and POD (closes: #202723 +). [...] -- Brendan O'Dea <> Tue, 29 Jul 2003 23:59:58 +1000

Discussion at

Way to go, Debian! :(

Juerd # { site => '', plp_site => '', do_not_use => 'spamtrap' }

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Re: Debian removed perlreftut
by Abigail-II (Bishop) on Aug 13, 2003 at 12:51 UTC
    Yes, and? It's well known that Debian believes in the saying "there's no such thing as 90% free". Something is free, or it isn't, and they have (at least for themselves) a pretty clear idea what is free, and what isn't. Now, if we look at the distribution conditions of perlreftut, it's quite restrictive. It's more restrictive than the Perl distribution itself, which allows you to accept it under either the Artistic license, or the GPL (perlreftut doesn't allow the latter). It also doesn't give you any rights to distribute it outside of the Perl distribution.

    I can't blame Debian for not distributing perlreftut. In fact, if they accept Perl under the GPL, they legally are not allowed to distribute perlreftut; perlreftut doesn't give you the option of accepting it under the GPL.

    In fact, I wonder whether it's right to have perlreftut in the Perl distribution if it has conditions that violate the overall conditions of the Perl distribution. Perhaps this is something that needs to be discussed on p5p.


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Re: Debian removed perlreftut
by rob_au (Abbot) on Aug 13, 2003 at 11:53 UTC
    From perlreftut ...

    "Distribution Conditions" Copyright 1998 The Perl Journal. When included as part of the Standard Version of Perl, or as part of its complete documentation whether printed or otherwise, this work may be distributed only under the terms of Perl's Artistic License. Any distribution of this file or derivatives thereof outside of that package require that special arrangements be made with copyright holder.

    Cursed by it's own hubris ... *chuckle*


    perl -le 'print+unpack"N",pack"B32","00000000000000000000001001111001"'

      Perhaps the author of the perlreftut could be persuaded to s/terms of Perl's Artistic License/same terms as Perl itself/. I've seen a lot of files which specify the former, because it used to mean the same thing.

      Why isn't perlreftut kept in the core package with other perl docs, anyway? It looks like the perlreftut author's issue is when the file is published where perl or other complete Perl documentation isn't included.

      [ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]

        Perhaps the author of the perlreftut could be persuaded to s/terms of Perl's Artistic License/same terms as Perl itself/. I've seen a lot of files which specify the former, because it used to mean the same thing.

        Really? They haven't meant the same thing since Perl was dual licensed. Which happened even before perl4. Same terms as Perl itself means accepting either the Perl's Artistic License, or the GNU Public License.

        But note that even if you can get the copyright holder (which isn't the same as the author), to make this change, it's not going to satisfy Debian. And rightly so. Something that is more worrysome for them is that you are only allowed to distribute perlreftut as part of the Perl package, and not separately.


Re: Debian removed perlreftut
by sauoq (Abbot) on Aug 14, 2003 at 07:33 UTC

    I think it was a good decision.

    Frankly, I think it should be removed from the Perl distribution itself pending a change to its licensing.

    Also, although it has been a couple years, I have in the past had a lot of interaction with Brendan on IRC and I have a high regard for his character and his judgement. I'm sure he weighed the options and positive he didn't reach this decision in a vacuum. I would venture a guess that he contacted Dominus to discuss the licensing as well.

    Finally, I wouldn't really be that sad to see it go. Sure, perlreftut is helpful, but it isn't necessary. The raw information is, of course, in the other man pages. But more to the point, there are plenty of other high quality introductions to Perl references in books and on the web; some are available in the tutorials section right here.

    So, big deal. I'm really just curious what Dominus has to say about it.

    "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";

      So, big deal.

      It means helping people in #perlhelp need to un-learn telling people to "perldoc perlreftut". About helpful but unnecessary documents: there should be more of those.

      Juerd # { site => '', plp_site => '', do_not_use => 'spamtrap' }

        No, it means re-learning to say `perlreftut on`.

        It means helping people in #perlhelp need to un-learn telling people to "perldoc perlreftut".

        So? Big deal.

        Point them to perlref, perldsc, and/or perllol. Or, as diotalevi said, point them to Or give them the ten minute tutorial (with examples) that it usually takes to explain references adequately on IRC. What's the point of "helping" people if all you do is cite perldoc perl all the time.

        In any case, it is far better for us to have to unlearn perldoc perlreftut than for Debian to violate the overly restrictive copyright on a single document in the Perl distribution. Better to remove the offending document than to remove perl itself. Afterall, perlreftut is useless when it comes to running scripts.

        "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
Re: Debian removed perlreftut
by ambrus (Abbot) on Aug 25, 2008 at 12:47 UTC

    Debian has already put the info docs for gnu make and the docs for gpg to a package in the non-free section. This doesn't mean anything more than that it can't be in the standard installation. You can still install these packages, provided you keep the license for each package separately. As lots of documentation has already not been in the default installation for space reason, and it's quite appropriate to do this with something like the documentation of perl, as while you need the perl binary and modules to run programs, you only need the documentation if you actually want to develop perl programs.

      You're replying to a 5 year old post, that describes an issue that was also resolved 5 years ago.

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