Re: [CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT] Disambiguation of 4.1.5
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"SG" => Steve Greenland <firstname.lastname@example.org>
SG> Both problems may be resolved by changing 5.2 to simply
SG> 5.2 The Foundation Documents are the Debian GNU/Linux Social
SG> Contract and the Debian Free Software Guidelines.
SG> Since it's part of the constitution, it may be modified in
SG> the same way: a GR to modify 5.2 that succeeds with a 3:1
I agree -- the Constitution is already covered by Section 4.1.2.
Also, the Constitution came *after* the Social Contract/DFSG
(December, 1998, and June, 1997, respectively); thus you could
argue that the Social Contract/DFSG is a Foundation Document, but
the Constitution is not.
SG> Regardless of that, we probably need to get a consistent
SG> capitilazation: is it "foundation Documents" or
SG> "Foundation Documents" or "Foundation documents" (the
SG> first two are in the proposed 5.2, the last in Manoj's
It should probably be ``Foundation Documents'', referring to a
class of documents. Having said that, however, the Social
Contract/DFSG seems to be a *single* document with two parts
rather than two separate documents.
<http://www.debian.org/social_contract> states just that at the
top of the page:
The Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) part of the
contract, initially designed as a set of commitments that we
agree to abide by, has been adopted by the free software
community as the basis of the Open Source Definition.
Given that statement, if there aren't any other documents that
fall into this class, then perhaps the amendment should only say
``Foundation Document'' or, even better, simply specify the Social
Contract/DFSG instead of implying the existence of a class of
Looking back at the main topic, I'm not convinced that it should
be possible to *modify* foundational documents. When I think
about the Social Contract/DFSG and the Debian Constitution, I tend
to compare them to the Declaration of Independence and the
U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution contains rules that
allow it to be *amended* (*not* modified, notice), but no one
would ever consider modifying the Declaration of Independence,
which stands as it is for all time.
Unfortunately, Section 5 of the Social Contract/DFSG (which is, of
course, the center of the debate) muddies my comparison, because
it clearly contains statements that are more procedural than
declaratory, most notably in its mention of ``contrib and non-free
areas in our FTP archive''.
Perhaps a good fix for this issue -- once we decide if the Social
Contract can be modified at all -- would be to modify the Social
Contract to state that the Project members support the use of
non-DFSG-free software with Debian systems without specifying how
such support would be provided. What support we do provide would
then have to be specifed elsewhere (in some nontechnical policy
document subject to Section 4.2.5 of the Debian Constitution,
I think I would tend toward favoring something like a 2:1 majority
for modifying such policy documents rather than a simple majority,
however -- the policy documents that dictate the functioning of
the Project are at least as important as decisions made by the
Technical Committee (which require a 2:1 majority to override,
Finally, looking more closely at the text of Section 4.2.5,
``nontechnical policies such as the free software license terms
that Debian software must meet'' appears to encompass the Debian
Free Software Guidelines, which Manoj's proposal considers to be a
Foundation Document (or part of a Foundation Document), and
therefore subject to a 3:1 majority vote for modification.
Whatever final proposal ends up being voted on should probably
take that interpretation into account and provide a different
Behind the counter a boy with a shaven head stared vacantly into space,
a dozen spikes of microsoft protruding from the socket behind his ear.
C.M. Connelly email@example.com SHC, DS
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