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Bug#681419: Alternative dependencies on non-free packages in main: counterargument

Steve Langasek writes ("Bug#681419: Alternative dependencies on non-free packages in main: counterargument"):
> Sorry for the delays in writing this up.
> I believe the *spirit* of the policy requirement is twofold:

I won't repeat myself too much, but as I have said I think there is a
third important underlying principle:

The Debian Project Should Not (At least in main) recommend non-free
software.  I think that includes not mentioning it by name in Depends,
Recommends or Suggests.

> Consider the hypothetical packages gfoo, foo, unfoo

I'm going to rename Steve's packages for clarity:
  foo-gui, nonfreefoo, freefoo

> But if gfoo can't declare 'Depends: unfoo | foo' because foo is a real
> rather than virtual package, then how can gfoo support those users who
> choose to install the non-free foo?  We know that we don't control the foo
> package; is the desired outcome here that installing 'foo' must remove
> 'gfoo'?

This problem can be worked around by the use of a suitable indirection
metapackage in contrib.

main/foo-gui:   Depends: freefoo | some-foo

contrib/some-foo-nonfree:   Provides: some-foo; Depends: nonfreefoo | ...

external/nonfreefoo:  nothing relevant

> So I submit that this is not an area where Policy should be enforcing a
> prohibition on the contents of non-default alternatives.  We might recommend
> the use of virtual packages, but should not micromanage our developers with
> an outright prohibition.

I think the principle that Debian should not recommend nonfree
software is important.  The situations we are discussing occur only in
a handful of cases, and my proposals do not involve unreasonable
amounts of work.

In particular, I think Steve's example is one where we should
certainly not compromise our principles just because some proprietary
software distributors are being uncooperative.  Our political
opponents, with whom we are making a practical compromise, are giving
those of us who want to make that compromise a choice between 
(a) advertising their program or (b) doing some extra work.

It is a longstanding tradition in Debian that those who want to work
on non-free should bear the costs of complying with our principles.  I
don't think the minor cost here is worth this compromise - even some
would say that the damage to our principles is also fairly minor.


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