Bug#473439: debian-policy: Debian Policy inconsistent with Developer's Reference
Ian Jackson <email@example.com> writes:
> Russ Allbery writes:
>> "Adam D. Barratt" <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
>>> For what it's worth, and possibly to add more confusion, dak uses the
>>> term "component" in this case.
>> Also, I guess my first reaction isn't as conclusive as I'd like, since
>> Section, the control field, is actually used for both.
> This may be mindless political bikeshedding but I thought I should at
> least point it out: our official position is that `non-free is not part
> of Debian'. If we call it a `component' we would seem to be undermining
> So as a purist, I would prefer `category'. `Area' works too since it
> refers to an `area' in the FTP site.
I did a bit more research based on Osamu Aoki's excellent work.
Currently, these things are referred to using three different terms:
* dak calls them components.
* The current Debian Policy document calls them categories.
* The Social Contract calls them areas:
We acknowledge that some of our users require the use of works that do
not conform to the Debian Free Software Guidelines. We have created
"contrib" and "non-free" areas in our archive for these works.
I think Policy should not attempt to make up its own terminology here, so
I'd like to change it to match either dak or the Social Contract. After
thinking about it for a bit, I favor going to the terminology of the
Social Contract with a minor modification (distribution areas instead of
just areas) in part because of Ian's point and in part because I think
it's meaningful to suppose that component refers to a technical capability
of dak whereas distribution area refers to a concept within Debian as a
Here is a proposed patch to consistently use distribution area in Policy.
What do people think?
diff --git a/policy.sgml b/policy.sgml
index 24c9072..16919b2 100644
@@ -293,7 +293,13 @@
<em>free</em> in our sense (see the Debian Free Software
Guidelines, below), or may be imported/exported without
restrictions. Thus, the archive is split into the distribution
- areas or categories based on their licenses and other restrictions.
+ areas or components<footnote>
+ The Debian archive software uses the term "component" internally
+ and in the Release file format to refer to the division of an
+ archive. The Debian Social Contract refers to distribution
+ areas. This document uses the same terminology as the Social
+ </footnote> based on their licenses and other restrictions.
@@ -310,8 +316,8 @@
- The <em>main</em> category forms the
- <em>Debian GNU/Linux distribution</em>.
+ The <em>main</em> distribution area forms the <em>Debian GNU/Linux
@@ -422,10 +428,10 @@
+ <heading>Distribution areas</heading>
- <heading>The main category</heading>
+ <heading>The main distribution area</heading>
Every package in <em>main</em> must comply with the DFSG
@@ -456,7 +462,7 @@
- <heading>The contrib category</heading>
+ <heading>The contrib distribution area</heading>
Every package in <em>contrib</em> must comply with the DFSG.
@@ -496,7 +502,7 @@
- <heading>The non-free category</heading>
+ <heading>The non-free distribution area</heading>
Packages must be placed in <em>non-free</em> if they are
@@ -612,13 +618,13 @@
- The packages in the categories <em>main</em>,
+ The packages in the distribution areas <em>main</em>,
<em>contrib</em> and <em>non-free</em> are grouped further
into <em>sections</em> to simplify handling.
- The category and section for each package should be
+ The distribution area and section for each package should be
specified in the package's <tt>Section</tt> control record
(see <ref id="f-Section">). However, the maintainer of the
Debian archive may override this selection to ensure the
@@ -627,10 +633,10 @@
<em>section</em> if the package is in the
- <em>main</em> category,
+ <em>main</em> distribution area,
- <em>segment/section</em> if the package is in
+ <em>area/section</em> if the package is in
the <em>contrib</em> or <em>non-free</em>
@@ -8949,9 +8955,10 @@ install-info --quiet --remove /usr/share/info/foobar.info
- Packages in the <em>contrib</em> or <em>non-free</em> categories
- should state in the copyright file that the package is not part
- of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and briefly explain why.
+ Packages in the <em>contrib</em> or <em>non-free</em>
+ distribution areas should state in the copyright file that the
+ package is not part of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and
+ briefly explain why.
Russ Allbery (email@example.com) <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>