An amusing lintian error — Lenna

Well, there we are, trying to build another round of TeX Live packages for Debian, just to realize that the lintian error that should have been downgraded to warning (or removed) is still around, due to doubts about the license. Ok. Well, anyway, but what I found is even more funny:

E: texlive-extra source: license-problem-non-free-img-lenna texmf-dist/doc/latex/reflectgraphics/lenna.jpg

which is about one of the most used images in images processing courses, Lenna:

Without comments, I just quote the lintian error … it is a whole lot of fun to read.

Ref:,, #771191
Info: The given source file is cropped from playboy centerfold.

This image is a picture of Lena Söderberg, shot by photographer Dwight Hooker, cropped from the centerfold of the November 1972 issue of Playboy magazine.

According to Hutchison, Jamie (May–June 2001). “Culture, Communication, and an Information Age Madonna” (PDF). IEEE Professional Communication Society Newsletter 45 (3). (page 5 second column second paragraph), this image is distributable but not free.

Moreover, Lenna photo has been pointed to as an example of sexism in the sciences, reinforcing gender stereotypes.

Please use well known and free test image.

Please also submit md5sum, sha1sum, and sha256 of this file as a bug report for lintian.

How fortunate our generation is that we don’t have anything else to care about …

Anyway, back to rebuilding orig.tars, source packages, and binary packages!

19 Responses

  1. Hi Norbert,

    I agree this issue is ridiculous, but nevertheless, the image is non-free. You might want to use e.g. this image as a replacement:



    • Hi Fabian,
      since the file is not used for input and appears only in the doc tree, I will simply drop it. Anything else is too much hassle 😉


      • Katja says:

        The image is used for the examples in the PDF-Documentation:


        So i think i should be the better solution solution to replace it with annother image, so that the documentation can still be rebuild from source. Or even better, ask the upstream author to change it.

  2. Bastien ROUCARIÈS says:

    About #786946 upstream site has contradictory terms of distribution of icc file… One is free the other one in non free (you are even in copy of the mail). So please do not spread false information.

    About lenna, this file is non free.

    Moreover they are clear guideline to not use in my signal processing lab. We have only a few woman doing science jobs and this kind of image create the impression that we are nerds, that consider only women as sexual object. We have some pretty goods statistics about this, and we have even made some pool of potential undergrad students about this topic. Actually in France, in my speciallity electrical engineering woman rate after culminating at 10% is falling. So yes we have to care.

    Personally I think it is some sort a remain of 80’s signal processing subculture, and maybe an artistic image like the “origine du monde”.

    But I am also myself an associate professor (like you) and I care about woman in science. If we could improve the woman rate in labs, it will increase the quality of your work. Why do we miss 50% of the workforce and intelligence ? And I care, to improve the well being feeling of the women of my lab. And these woman care about this image as not suitable in the work field.

    Tim Hunt resigns but you perfectly know that they are still some phd students/collegue that think like him. And it is not acceptable both ethically and from common good of human kind.

    So as a researcher we care about this.

    • Stuart Prescott says:

      +1 to Bastien’s comment. Lenna as a demo image is the computer science equivalent of a nudie calendar in the boys change room. It might have been tolerated in the past but I think we all now know that as a hangover from less enlightened times, it’s no longer appropriate and we can/should/must do better.

      The file is also quite clearly non-free just as various RFCs, fonts, SWFs etc are and we all know we need to remove them from packages because there are problems with redistribution and modification. The TeX packages have been a pain in the backside over many years on that front and the efforts of the maintainers at improving that situation have been hugely appreciated. Anyway, even if you are a dinosaur in your social attitudes, the image has no place in a DFSG source package.

      • Stuart, Bastien
        thanks for all your comments. I hope you have realized that the file and even three more have already been removed and new packages uploaded. Furthermore, to help with these efforts, I have also sent a bug report with sha/md sums of other instances of the image.

        So instead of inferring whatever wrong, made-up, and aggressive conclusions you have, I suggest looking at the facts of what I have done, instead of complaining that a call the lintian warning “amusing”.

        Thanks for thinking before posting


      • I forgot – it was me who contacted upstream to change the graphics instead one of those complaining here. I hope others see the difference between acting and only talking.

        • Stuart Prescott says:

          I know that you have removed the files and helped upstream do the same. That’s great. That’s what being a Debian package maintainer is about.

          I just wish you had done so without claiming that the severity of the lintian error is overblown or ridiculing an effort to reduce the latent sexism that can be found in various areas of STEM. “Oops I missed that one” or “yay for lintian! it helped remove more non-free files from the archive” would have been appropriate responses.

          The lintian error is not exaggerated — it does not need to be downgraded or removed as you claim. Was it a false positive in the detection? No. Was it a false positive about the file being non-distributable? No — you agreed with lintian that the file is non-free and have removed it from the next upload and reported the problem upstream. So in what way is the lintian error not a perfectly valid error to flag? Given that you cannot point to a licence that actually permits Debian to include it in the package, it shouldn’t be there and now it is gone.

          (And in terms of “acting” rather than “talking” you might want to find out who wrote the detection code and who looked through the archive for examples of files that lintian could find to help improve the overall quality of the archive and reduce the number of licence and DFSG violations therein.)

          • Stuart, thanks for your comment, but I will not enter into the “whose is bigger” game. I wanted only to clarify something that you might have missed (due to superficial reading?): I *never* stated that the lenna lintian error is wrong, should be downgraded or removed. The only thing I said that it is “amusing” and that we are a “fortunate generation”.

            As far as I remember, “humor” has not been banished by now from Debian (for how long?) – yes I know, the CoC hammer is coming in a second, no need to mention it. Yes, what anyone anywhere anytime in this universe might have at some point considered discriminating or not funny, is not allowed in Debian – so maybe humor *is* actually forbidden? Can anyone prove that nobody ever and anywhere might not take the most harmless joke as an insult? (Hint hint – my opinion on the validity of the CoC you can deduce, I guess)

            So, I grew up in a different cultural background of you, and I live now again in a different background then my original and yours. And my humor is different from yours, and most CoC fanatics anyway.

            So bottomline, that nobody has to read the full comment:
            * I never stated that the error should be downgraded or removed
            * I called it “amusing” and “our generation fortunate” to have to worry about these kind of photos (instead of war, scarcity of food, child abuse, torture, (mass) murder, weapon proliferation, …)
            * I don’t bow to the CoC on my own web pages
            * I don’t do compare games (mine is bigger) (is this forbidden, too?)
            * I have no interest in mostly American based social and political decisions that are footed in a completely different cultural background

            And last but not least, I wish everyone a nice time! Reading all these comments must make most people ROFL.

  3. Oliver Reiche says:

    Very interesting. Well, I didn’t even know it’s non-free.

    Actually we’re still using it quite often, even female colleagues of mine. Sadly we didn’t even think about complications accompanying using this image. Although it’s a Playboy image, it is simply showing the face of a woman. So I personally don’t see a gender and diversity issue with the image itself, disregarding the story behind it.

    Nevertheless, I replaced it by the image suggested by Fabian Greffrath (mainly because it’s non-free, but I can also understand if someone feels offended).


    • Thanks Oliver for your quick reaction.
      I completely understand your point – without ever having heard about this image’s story it was just a scan/photo. Unfortunately people have to connect things that are neither implied nor included, just due to some apparent social obligations.
      The image *might* be non-free, but it is safer to assume it is. That is the only reason I am following. The rest of the lintian error is – as I said – amusing. But again, some societies and social requirements might require others to be of different opinion.

      Anyway, thanks again for your quick reaction!

  4. Craig Small says:

    Thanks for the post Norbert. License issues aside, I don’t know how people can get and tangled up; it’s a photo of a woman with a hat, right?

    Lintian does throw up some interesting messages at times.

    • Hi Craig!
      How much do I agree with you! This photo didn’t carry any problematic meaning until lintian pointed me at it. Now its only laughing time.

    • vcunat says:

      I believe I have used it for months for comparison of compression methods without ever thinking there’s something unusual about the image. Perhaps I’m dumb (in this respect), but I would never get any suspicion about it being cut from porn. (I found out much later on the internet.)

      On some places it’s easy to change to other images. For comparing compression efficiency, it’s often not so easy in the typical case when you don’t have (good) access to the code of the other methods.

      • Yeah vcunat, that is the prize we have to pay for political correctness.

        Maybe I should add some “trigger warnings” to TeX Live packages, so that nobody feels him/her/it/whatever-self uncomfortable.

        Seems to be a genuine US stupidity, both PC and trigger warnings. The rest of the civilized world can only laugh at them. Although there is nothing to laugh, but only cry.

        • vcunat says:

          I do consider replacing lena an improvement (although perhaps over-stressed). In this case it seems not to matter if there’s any other photo, and nowadays even when one needs comparison, there are many other standard test images that aren’t arguable (AFAIK :).

          I didn’t notice relation to US, but I never developed for Debian. To me they seem to have lots of rules and processes, which I associate with any large organization. And they’re trying exceptionally hard to be correct/free/…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>