RFC: On-demand package installation API in kdelibs

Thomas Lübking thomas.luebking at web.de
Thu Jul 29 17:54:14 BST 2010

Am Thursday 29 July 2010 schrieb Martin Sandsmark:
> On Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 12:19:28AM +0200, Thomas Lübking wrote:
> > No "we" are not.
> > By Lubos proposal the distros implement the handler for a weak
> > dependency, i.e. amarok says "need some codec" and the distro says
> > either:
> > […]
> But in the case of, say, libdvdcss, we would have to require the user to
> install something that we know breaks copy protection.
(Aside that this doesn't apply for many countries:)
No. Not at all (well actually it _could_ be like this, but that would be 
All eg. dragon would say is: "require CSS decoder"
That is not calling for anything but just stating a fact. Whether you state it 
to the user directly or (in addition or exclusively) to some "log" streamed 
into some distro specific backend does not matter.

Then the distro comes in and says "can resolve" (there's btw. a "legal" DvD 
player for linux, iirc you just cannot purchase it as end user), "can not 
resolve - sorry" or "resolve yourself" - this is more or less how it's done 
anyway, Lubos just proposed a generalized API for /any/ kind of weak 
dependency solution to put distros in control of the usertask complexity.

(Since the mighty DMCA has no relevance in several European states which 
concluded that a law attempting to fix a broken tech that was considered to be 
necessary since users would just ignore laws is pretty stupid and - by putting 
a random lock on information acquiration in general - pretty dangerous as 

The legal situation of the distro exclusive actions _cannot_ harm either KDE 
or external apps like amarok, since they're not in control of distro 

> And what if we ask the distro to install something we know there are no
> legal solutions for (like playing some WMA files)?
Again: you don't ask. You just state a fact. If you live in a country where 
that is under legal pressure i suggest to move (iff you're allowed to ;-P )
> No, it's the intent that matters (AFAIK).
In what legal system
German law looks after the "nature of things", similar to the Betamax 
Judging by intention is marked as despotism and actually breaks the 
The reason is that intentions cannot be measured at all but would have to be 
assumed/implied what puts you under the direct and unpredictable will of your 
judge, we had this some 70 years ago, though ... :-\
Also claiming "nice intentions" when you killed a "dangrous man" won't talk 
you out of shooting pantomimes =D

> Yes, the API can be used for only legally innocent stuff, but then it isn't
> very useful.
pacman tells me about a bunch of weak dependencies (eg. OOo prefabs, 
transcoders or VCD generators for k3b etc.) quite often and it seldom seems 
driven by legal thoughts at all...
With a little patching around or this API the distro can offer to post-load 
this kind of stuff when required for the first time.
Afaics there _is_ general use for weak deps for distros as it allows to keep a 
small core.
> > The legal issue would then as mentioned be on the distros side, depending
> > on how they actually resolve this dependency in pot. illegal cases (by
> > checking locales, bypassing some server locations or just avoid
> > installation) and thus out of k-c-d scope :-)
> No, since it's we, KDE, who are asking the user to install something that
> clearly isn't legal.
And here we go again.
I think I understand your issue, but it relies on a probably false assumption.

a) "KDE" does not ask for anything just by kdelibs providing some API.

b) If (IFF) eg. amarok would explicitly call for libmad to support mp3 it 
could be in trouble, yes.
If it's only asking to resolve the lack of mp3 decoding support or even rather  
just stating the lack of such, it's clearly not. Not even if there was nothing 
like fluendo, since the fact a solution does not yet exist doesn't mean it 
will never or that the unresolved dep would not exist.
A fact is a fact and you cannot be sucessfully attacked for stating it. 
(except for in some states that *free* software should actually not care 
about, but they care about different kinds of facts anyway and not about 
breaking patents, cr or the DCMA ...)

c) Iff the distro starts or suggests to install "illegal" stuff and maybe uses 
kdialog or plasma notifications or anything else provided by kdelibs, that 
does NOT mean "KDE" would ask or do anything.
By that definition KDE or Nokia or M$ or whoever would be in charge of 
whatever is displayed on their DE using their toolkits and the NRA killed 
millions of ppl...

Even iff the dialog would clearly say "KDE is asking you: break the law?" that 
could not put KDE into any charge. This would just be a lie and the appeal 
/is/ entirely irrelevant.
Just by mangeling a picture of yours into the Zapruder film, i won't make you 
responsible for the JFK assasination, yesno? :-)


Ps: gee the second megaflame this week ;-)

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