Re: Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge
It seems that my previous mail, while having a comment addressed to
Anthony in it, wasn't sent to him :-(. Oh well. Anthony, do I take
it that you still want the TC to make some kind of formal decision
Is there a bug report for this issue ? Anthony, if you would still
like a formal pronouncement, it might be useful for you to file a bug
report (against the pseudo-package tech-ctte). That way when we think
we're done we can close or reassign the report and we won't lose it in
On to the substance. I'm going to write this part as `we' so that it
can form the basis of a draft resolution. That doesn't mean I think
I'm Margaret Thatcher or the Queen or something :-).
It seems to me that:
* The Social Contract as amended is unambiguous, and prevents the
release of Sarge as-is.
* We would like to see Sarge's release go in parallel with the
time-consuming fixes to the copyright problems.
* The Developers must decide whether to waive or amend the Social
Contract. If no waiver is forthcoming, then Sarge will not be
released until all of the problematic material has been sorted
We are pleased to see this discussion is happening and will
probably result in a resolution in time. So:
* The Release Manager should plan for such a resolution to either
grandfather the existing situation, or permit the release of Sarge
some other way. To do anything else would be to prejudge the
* Debian General Resolutions are inherently time-consuming and
generate lots of argument. So, since we would like to release
Sarge fairly soon (within a few months), we are in something of a
hurry. There will be time to clarify the situation at more length
* Any grandfather resolution authorising the release of Sarge should
be as short as possible. It would be a bad idea to write a long
document `under the gun'. Any such grandfather resolution should
probably delegate reasonably wide discretion about scope and
interpretation to the Release Manager, the Project Leader, the
Committee or some other similar person or body, to ensure that the
resolution is sufficient and we don't need another GR.
* If such a grandfather resolution does not pass with a 3:1
supermajority then the Social Contract is not waived and sarge
should not be released until the non-free stuff is removed somehow.
Some other comments:
* There has been some argument about the definition of `source'. It
seems perfectly clear to me that `source' means the preferred form
for modification in the GPL. Anyone who argues differently is
probably engaging in sophistry. The effect of this on (eg) the
status of fonts is not entirely clear in every case, but it seems
obvious that at least some fonts we currently distribute are not
* The GFDL issue is big problem too. IMO the Debian Developers
should formally express our regret at the position taken by the
FSF. But writing up such a GR can wait until we've dealt with the
* I would ask all proposers and sponsors of resolutions to avoid
calling for a vote before reaching consensus on the wording of a
resolution. I would also ask _opponents_ of any resolution to help
the process by proposing constructive criticisms and changes to the
wording so that the resolution may better express the intent of its
sponsors ! It is in the whole project's interests that the
resolution that gets voted on is clear and well-worded - even if it
is going to be rejected.
* We disapprove of resolutions with tendentious wording. Resolution
titles and summaries should not prejudge disputed issues.
* It is unfortunate that these problems weren't spotted before the
vote on the `editorial amendments'. I would like to ask
particularly people whose work might be directly affected by a GR
to read the text in detail to discover problems earlier !
* The Technical Committee has no formal authority in this area.
The questions being disputed are not technical. So any authority
we have derives only from Anthony Towns as Release Manager because
he's asking us the question - and of course from our authority to
just pronounce our opinions.