The technical committe was asked in #681419 by the policy maintainers to determine as a matter of technical whether alternative dependencies on non-free packages were acceptable in main. ==== RESOLUTION ==== Whereas: 1. The Debian Policy Manual states (§2.2.1) that packages in main "must not require or recommend a package outside of main for compilation or execution". Both "Depends: package-in-non-free" and "Recommends: package-in-non-free" clearly violate this requirement. The Technical Committee has been asked to determine whether a dependency of the form "package-in-main | package-in-non-free" complies with this policy requirement, or whether virtual packages must instead be used to avoid mentioning the non-free alternative. 2. Both options have the following effects in common, meeting the standard that main should be functional and useful while being self-contained: (a) Package managers configured to consider only main will install package-in-main. (b) Package managers configured to consider both main and non-free will prefer to install package-in-main, but may install package-in-non-free instead if so instructed, or if package-in-main is uninstallable. (c) If package-in-non-free is already installed, package managers will proceed without installing package-in-main. 3. The significant difference between these two options is that the former makes the non-free alternative visible to everyone who examines the dependency relationship, while the latter does not. 4. Merely mentioning that a non-free alternative exists does not constitute a recommendation of that alternative. For example, many free software packages state quite reasonably that they can be compiled and executed on non-free platforms. 5. Furthermore, virtual packages are often a clumsy way to express these kinds of alternatives. If a package happens to require any of several implementations of a facility that have a certain option, then it can either depend on suitable alternatives directly, or its maintainer can first attempt to have fine-grained virtual packages added to each of the packages they wish to permit. In some cases this may be appropriate, but it can easily turn into quite a heavyweight approach. Therefore: 6. The Technical Committee resolves that alternative dependencies of the form "Depends: package-in-main | package-in-non-free" are permissible in main, and do not constitute a violation of the policy clause cited in point 1. 7. We nevertheless recommend that packages in main consider carefully whether this might cause the inadvertent installation of non-free packages due to conflicts, especially those with usage restrictions. ==== END OF RESOLUTION ==== The committee would like to thank everyone who participated in the discussion of #681419. Please see http://bugs.debian.org/681419 for discussion of this bug.
Description: Digital signature