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Re: Steam for Linux? No thanks.

All right, let me play devil's advocate here...

On Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 2:38 PM, Dmitry Smirnov <onlyjob@member.fsf.org> wrote:
> On Sat, 16 Feb 2013 04:53:33 Boris Pek wrote:
>> Non-free branch in not a part of Debian.
> Yet we are responsible for its content. I wouldn't object your intention to
> upload Steam packaging to your home page.
> You asked if there are objections so here is mine.
>> > To my understanding, the only reason for Steam to exist is to enforce DRM
>> > control -- this is pure evil and it should not be.
>> > Restriction management software does not belong here.
>> Do you feel the same in applying to flashplugin-nonfree and its alternates?
>> Flash plugin is usually used for executing non-free programs and playing
>> non-free content (music, video) and etc. There is no big difference between
>> them.
> What I feel about Flash or anything else is irrelevant. I reckon it only
> matters if you're trying to discredit my argument.
> Flash is bad enough indeed but there is a big difference: Steam was created
> for the only purpose -- enforcing DRM. Flash may or may not be used for evil
> while Steam was designed for evil.

I disagree strongly with this statement here. Steam was not created
for the sake of enforcing DRM; Steam is merely a distribution channel
to make it easier for game devs to market their games to a wider
audience, and DRM facilitates that (in a twisted way). Devs are not
forced to bundle DRM with their games when distributing them, and
there are a number of (single-player) games available where you only
need Steam to fetch the game, but run it standalone afterwards; in
essence, becoming a package manager.

Also, I hate it when people decree that some piece of software is
"evil". "Evil" is in the eye of the beholder and is entirely
subjective. I'm not saying that I *like* DRM, but if you want to make
a convincing argument against Steam, I would recommend relying on
facts to support your argument, e.g. the arguments that Cesare brought
up (licensing and U.S. export laws), which may actually be blockers to
getting Steam in Debian.

> Besides Flash is not for *installing* applications. Using Flash for accessing
> multimedia content is certainly not nearly as bad as gigantic-Steam-backdoor.

It can be argued that both Flash and Steam are just distribution
platforms. Although Flash is much more effective at distributing
security holes than multimedia content, IMHO.

>> > Besides through Steam they are distributing proprietary content that is
>> > most likely is not suitable for non-free as well.
>> This content does not come with a package, it will be downloaded by user.
> We do not want to help our users to download such content.

While I'm not inclined to actively promote something like Steam, I
think this is a bit too broad of a statement. In this particular case
I'm inclined to take a more pragmatic stance and suggest that
providing Steam in non-free is better than having Debian users trying
to install the .deb packages that upstream provides (intended for
Ubuntu), and then breaking their system when trying to install
Ubuntu's eglibc.

> I suggest making game downloader(s) if you want to bring a particular game to
> Debian. A downloader for a particular game will have less implications than
> Steam.
>> > If that's not matching the definition of "opening pandora's box" then I
>> > don't know what is.
>> >
>> > IMHO Steam is entirely off the scope of non-free and shouldn't be there.
>> Should I remind you about point 5 in Debian Social Contract?
> Please don't use Social Contract against me.
> Have you ever thought what it was written for?

Uhmm, what? The Social Contract specifically acknowledges that there
exists "Works that do not meet our free software standards", and that
Debian provides the convenience of contrib and non-free for users who
understand the implications of using non-free software, but still
choose to do so. Why is Steam being singled out and made exempt from

> Besides by packaging Steam you're supporting the very thing we should be
> fighting against.

I dislike DRM, but I acknowledge that it's not going away anytime soon
and I see reason in picking a lesser evil, i.e. enticing users to move
away from entirely closed-source platforms and operating systems to a
partially open one (i.e. where the platform is open, but some
applications are not). I suppose that's the pragmatist in me speaking

>> > We should be fighting against DRM whenever we can. I encourage you to
>> > read more about DRM and consider joining FSF campaingn against DRM.
>> >
>> > See also
>> >
>> >         https://www.fsf.org/campaigns/drm.html
>> >         https://www.eff.org/issues/drm
>> >         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_rights_management
>> Thanks, I am aware of this problem. Have you also read an article [1]?
>> [1] https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/nonfree-games.html
> Packaging some non-free games that are "not-for-sale" is on my TODO list.
> But non-free has its limits and Steam should not be part of it.

What limits does non-free have? Why, as you say again, should Steam be
exempt from it? Factual, convincing arguments instead of mere rhetoric
here, please.

>> I am respect your position. But we live in not perfect world,
> In the perfect world you wouldn't want to package such thing as Steam.
> IMHO world would be slightly worse if you continue your effort.
> You could help making the world a better place if you refrain from wasting
> your time on Steam and focus your talents on more ethical tasks.
>> and huge
>> amount of users will be not agree with you on this issue.
> Are we playing numbers here?? That kind of poor rhetoric will bring you
> nowhere. If million people say silly thing it is still a silly thing.
> I would argue that "huge amount of users" are only about to discover the
> importance of ethics and therefore their opinion on this subject don't matter
> yet.
> Besides minority is responsible for all the progress and scientific
> breakthrough.
> I'm sure in our (Debian) community most developers would not welcome Steam.
> Less concerned people may stick to Ubuntu or other distros with little/less
> respect for ethics.

Errr, no. Ubuntu also has a clear separation in their repositories
amongst free vs non-free software (main + universe vs. restricted +
multiverse), and AFAIK they do abide by the DFSG, with the exception
that they consider GFDL to be "free enough". Granted, there are some
corner cases where there are disagreements between Ubuntu and our
ftpmasters (first thing that comes to mind is the Ubuntu font family).

I hope I'm not reading too much into this statement (sorry if I am),
but this has a distinct "holier than thou" feel.

And that concludes my rant for today...


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