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RE: Obscuring code? -- should the Perl system require code to be distributed as source?

Chris Yocum
July 26, 2000 11:08
RE: Obscuring code? -- should the Perl system require code to be distributed as source?
Message ID:
	I do not believe that Perl should require a developer or community to 
distriubte their code as source or as object code.  Perl should be 
constructed to do both so that those who are comfortable distributing their 
code as source can do so and those who are not can still contribute to the 
community as a whole.  I realize that there are potential problems, which 
only being a "normal" user of Perl I cannot give an answer, such as how do 
you call a module that is compiled from a not compiled script?
	Be that as it may, I think that Perl should be as open and inclusive as 
possible.  This may ruffle the feathers of those on both sides of the 
ideological devide but I think that doing so (ie allowing both non-compiled 
and compiled code to be run from the perl interpreter) could be a compromise 
that both sides could live with.

Chris Yocum

PS If I sound like I do not know what I am talking about please ignore me.  

>From: "Tolkin, Steve" <>
>Subject: RE: Obscuring code? -- should the Perl system require code to be 
>distributed as source?
>Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 13:41:38 -0400
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>I think this "meta-topic" is perhaps the most important one
>addressed on this bootstrap list:
>Should the Perl system require code to be distributed as source?
>Here I am referring to programs written in the Perl language, tobe executed
>by the Perl system.
>Tom's opinion, captured below, is pretty strong.
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Tom Christiansen []
> > Sent: Tuesday, July 25, 2000 7:06 PM
> > And just to add to the allusion, I'd rather a Kiddie::Porn module
> > be added to the core than this Evil.
>But the situation is not so clear to me.
>Distributing object code has several advantages, and is widely
>practiced, by almost all programming languages.
>I think at least some discussion is in order.
>The advantages of object code include:
>1. Helps protects the "intellectual property" of the creator.  (Maybe not
>perfectly, due to the possibility of reverse engineering, to generally to a
>high enough degree in practice.)
>2. May improve performance, e.g. reduced load time, reduced network
>transmission time, and reduced disk space consumption.  There are some
>corollary advantages e.g. it is quicker to detect when one program is an
>exact copy of another.
>I believe that these issues can be subtle.  For background reading I
>recommend the book Code by Lawrence Lessig.   He discusses the 4 kinds of
>1. architecture (e.g. the presence of a "shrouding" routine in the Perl 
>and/or a module, or its absence, or CPAN requiring all modules to be source
>code, etc.)
>2. law (perhaps the government will pass an anti-virus law requiring
>programs to be distributed as source)
>3. norms (Larry et al. encourage the Perl community to never shroud their
>4. the market (can developers make more money, or less, or none, for
>programs distributed as source vs. as object code)
>The Perl community can adopt the norm of source to such a high extent that
>no one ever considers shrouding their code (except for the obfuscated
>contest).  But that is a decision that should only be made after some
>consideration of the issue.
>Hopefully helpfully yours,
>Steven Tolkin      617-563-0516
>Fidelity Investments   82 Devonshire St. R24D    Boston MA 02109
>There is nothing so practical as a good theory.  Comments are by me,
>not Fidelity Investments, its subsidiaries or affiliates.

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