Re: free, freer, freest
On Fri, 2 Jul 1999, Ben Finney wrote:
> Bruce Sass wrote:
> > What is the FSF, what does the FSF do that GNU can not, and why.
> GNU is a project to create a free-software implementation of Unix. The
> FSF is an organisation set up to run the project. Please see the GNU
> pages for more. <http://www.gnu.org/>
GNU is Not Unix... maybe you should revisit the GNU site. :)
<... deleted stuff I was clear about (I hope) in my last post...>
> > wouldn't the average reasonable person assume that the "free" in "free
> > software" carries the same meaning as the word "free" does when used in
> > other contexts. GNU may champion "free software", but it does not
> > champion "free", the 17,000+ byte General Public License makes that clear.
> The GNU GPL is, to paraphrase RMS, "only meant to solve some of the
> world's problems, not all of them". What do you expect? That a
> *software* license will guarantee all your human freedoms?
No, just that a license claiming to champion free software would itself
be free (in the true sense of the word).
> > My biggest worry is that Debian will become too GNUish
> I don't understand the term "GNUish". The DFSG have not changed for
> quite a while and there is no proposal in place to change them now.
> What is it you fear will happen?
By "GNUish" I mean: adopting the fanatical stance regarding free
software that is evident in the GNU GPL.
> > Why doesn't GNU set up their own front-end to Debian,
> > one that only allows access to what GNU considers to be "free"?
> Possibly because, as another poster said, Debian is doing quite well in
> separating between free and non-free. In fact, as another pointed out,
> it is the *only* distribution that currently makes the distinction
> clear. The current proposal is intented (I believe) to clarify the
> distinction further.
I believe the intent is to go further than that; specifically, to
eventually purge Debian of anything considered non-free by GNU
> > Users and developers would then be able to make a choice between a
> > free Debian style Linux/HURD/whatever distribution, and the GNU window
> > into the same distribution.
> Explain your understanding of "free Debian style" as opposed to the "GNU
> window into" a distribution. I don't see anything in the current
> proposal, or RMS's comments, that advocates a GNU-only approach to
"Free" as in relatively unfettered access to any software that can run
on Debian (as it is now), let the users decide if they want a system
composed of free software or a mix of main, contrib and non-free.
"Debian style" as in based on the system management tools provided by
Debian (dpkg, dselect, apt, everything in /etc/init.d and the
/etc/rcX.d directories, and whatever else Debian has come up with to
make life easier (e.g.: the install-* and update-* series of programs).
The "GNU window into" refers to the subset of what is on the Debian site
that GNU considers free software and the texts that they do not find
objectionable (supposedly anything that does not make mention of contrib
> > This suggestion could result in Debian becoming the freest software
> > distribution around, rather than a second-rate distribution because it
> > is missing currently important pieces like Netscape and ssh.
> You seem to suggest that the lack of *non-free* packages like Netscape
> Communicator and SSH is what is keeping Debian from being the "freest
> software distribution around". That is a patent contradiction, so
> either I don't get what you're saying, or you're confused.
Since GNU is somewhat intolerant of what it does not consider to be free
software... if Debian was to bow to GNU's wishes it would be less free
than it is now. Devising a way for users to conciously choose between a
pure free software system and a mostly free software system would result
in a Debian that appears freer than it is now (because it offers more
choices to the user). The apparent lack of Netscape and ssh (for new
Debian users) that would be the result of adopting the changes (as I
understand them) could be seen as making Debian somewhat incomplete
(therefore second rate).