Lesson One | Rip, Burn, R.I.P.

Surely the aspiring Debianarchists out there are anxious to show some mettle. In that case, you'll be happy to hear that we won't be wasting time with lightweight topics such as putting dsniff through its paces, or even configuring your Debian installation to play commercial DVD movies. Rather, we will skip directly to the diabolical. In this lesson we will distill the contents of an official Debian package, burn it onto an optical storage medium, and sell the result for the cost of materials and labor to an unsuspecting relative, neighbor, or communist country. Not just any package, mind you: the venerable ttf-bitstream-vera. How did such a potent bundle of bits seep through the DFSG and into our debian-main chemistry set? Good fortune indeed.

The power of the ttf-bitstream-vera package lies in its license. Specifically this clause:

The Font Software may be sold as part of a larger software package but no copy of one or more of the Font Software typefaces may be sold by itself.

(Veteran Debianarchists will recognize that this is similar to language in the Artistic License, namely, "You may not charge a fee for this Package itself".)

What this set of circumstances allows us to do is pay money for a copy of the Debian distribution, yet violate a license by in turn selling a component of the distribution. The unseasoned among us might think this contradicts wording in the the DFSG such as "The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program's being part of a Debian system". Fortunately, that document entangles and contradicts itself such that no single fragment wields any power. Remember that the protection offered to the spirit of a such a document is inversely proportional to the number of words contained therein.

What you will need:

1debianarchist-bitstream script (included in this kit)
1Debian ttf-bitstream-vera package
1writeable CD drive *
1blank writable CD disk (mini or business card size works well) *
1(optional) web site to advertise your product

* add more for mass production

The debianarchist-bitstream script will do most of the work for you. However, to improve your skills, it is useful to know the details of what is happening. First, the script retrieves the ttf-bitstream-vera package from an official Debian package pool on the internet. Obviously you will need net access for this to work. (In the future, an option to scan the local apt cache or Debian CD may be added.) Second, the dpkg-deb utility is used to extract the payload from the package. These files are put into a work directory, ttf-bitstream-vera_files, that is created where you run the script. Finally, mkisofs is used to create a CD image of the files. This image can be read by both "Linux" and Windows systems. The resulting file, debianarchist-bitstream.iso, is placed in your current directory.

The script also has a special option "--purify". This was added because of the vague "... may be sold as part of a larger software package..." in the Bitstream license. Some people are of the opinion that, just by placing an extra file, such as a script, along with the fonts, the sale restriction can be circumvented. In fact, Bitstream seems to encourage this view by stating in their license FAQ that a Debian package is a "larger software package". I would be weary of that, because any clarification made outside of the license has dubious legal bearing. All that is in the license is the vague term "larger software package", and there is no predicting how that would be interpreted in a courtroom. In any case, what we are putting on the CD is only the payload of the Debian package rather than the Debian package proper, and therefore is not covered by the FAQ. Still, for those paranoid about this issue, the "--purify" option will remove files added by the maintainer of the Debian package.

The script is run simply as:

./debianarchist-bitstream [--purify]

After running the script, you will have to write the image to a CD. The cdrecord utility works well. In order to use it, you may need to execute it as root and will have to know the SCSI bus and target id numbers of your drive. If you don't know these numbers, the output of this command may give you a hint:

cdrecord -scanbus

Assuming bus 0 and id 0, this is the command to make the CD:

cdrecord -v dev=0,0 debianarchist-bitstream.iso

Even with the finished CD in hand, your work is not done. In order to violate the Bitstream license, you will have to sell the CD to someone. A suggested price is the cost you paid for the blank CD, plus the time it took you to read this document and create the CD at US $30/hour (the standard rate for Debianarchists-- it beats working at McDonald's). It isn't necessary for the purchaser to have any interest in Debian or fonts. In fact, if you use re-writable disks, you may be able to peddle substantial product on that merit alone.

Lesson Files
Name Signature Description
lesson.txt lesson.txt.sig Lesson in plain text
debianarchist-bitstream debianarchist-bitstream.sig Script to make CD image