Re: Non-free section
> I'd only like this if the packages were clearly identified as being
> non-free in dselect (and other front-ends). Mixing proprietary packages
> in with non-proprietary packages should only be done with some fore-thought,
> otherwise the user will end up with a proprietary system. :-(
What is wrong with this? Most of the non-free packages have some kind
of distribution restrictions, but it is not illegal to use them.
Besides, the definition of non-free (or proprietary) is a matter of
policy, the country you are in (US software patents), etc. Some of
the non-free packages (pine, aladdin-gs) are in non-free only because
they can't be distributed with proprietary software - so you don't
end up with a proprietary system, unless you already have one :).
The "compress" utility and various GIF-related programs are not
proprietary for me because LZW is not patented where I am, etc.
For most people like me who simply use Debian and don't sell it, the
free/non-free distinction is not really very important.
I have no problem with non-free packages being clearly identified, but
if we add such a mechanism, it should be more general: for example,
GPLed libraries should be clearly identified too - the GPL prohibits
linking them into non-GPL programs, and since the normal use of most
libraries is to link them into other programs, this can be viewed as
a use restriction. You _can_ use gcc to build commercial programs,
but you can't use GNU gettext to internationalize them.
> > If Cd-Roms are made then obviously a couple of dangling symlinks exist.
> > The Cd-Rom owner could then retrieve the non-free directory tree via ftp
> > and have a complete distribution.
Problem is, these dangling symlinks on a CD-ROM can't be changed, so
the CD-ROM would have to be mounted at the right location (relative to
the location where the non-free packages are). And how about people
who want to make CD-ROMs containing non-free too, for personal use?
I think the idea of separate non-free and contrib sections (just like
base, devel, ...) might be a good compromise. Not too difficult to
remove from CD-ROMs, and not too difficult to place on CD-ROMs after
checking the licenses. One problem is that non-free is getting quite
big (still smaller than devel though), but then it could be made
somewhat smaller by:
- relaxing the policy a little (for example, not making otherwise
free packages non-free just because they depend on a non-free
package, example: auto-pgp, mailcrypt, premail depend on pgp),
- moving the distribution out of the US - I am still hoping that it
will happen someday, maybe even before the LZW patent expires :),
- asking the upstream maintainers for permission (it already worked
for a few packages, which are no longer in non-free),
- checking the packages more carefully (giftrans is free - it doesn't
do any LZW compression, just changes a few values in the GIF header
and copies all the compressed data unchanged).
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