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Re: Non-free section

[ Please don't Cc: me when replying to my message on a mailing list. ]

Marek Michalkiewicz:
> OK, but let's not be too dogmatic about it.  The question is - how we
> define "clearly separated"?

As a separate distribution, parallel to stable, unstable, contrib,
and non-US. Making it a section is not clearly separated.

Dealing with stability in non-free is easily done by having two
non-free directories:

	non-free-rex (symlink non-free-stable points here)
	non-free-bo (symlink non-free-unstable points here)

Our top level directory is getting a bit big. We might want to
re-organize the whole directory tree so that all parallel
distributions that should work together are put into the same


The stable and unstable symlinks at the top level would remain,
and would point at rex/debian and bo/debian, respectively.

Note that we can't move the files at once. We would have to
do it bit by bit, starting with the release after bo. Otherwise
we'll kill mirror sites.

> - add new flags in the package control information.

Modifying dpkg for this is overkill, I think. Especially in the
way you suggest. If we start to make detailed explanations of
the legal status of packages, we are going to have to be very
precise. A certain lawer-happy country might also interpret
this as legal counsel, which we are not allowed to give.

It's much easier to have only two levels:

	main distribution: you can do pretty much anything, except
		claim you wrote it, as long as you don't put new
		restrictions on it; as far as we know, 

	non-free: there's something funny about the legal issues,
		please examine and decide for yourself

For practical reasons, we also need contrib (freeware, but we
can't support it fully, or it needs non-free), and non-US (we
don't want to go to jail), but it's not a good idea to go into
further detail without being a lawer.

> Only packages that are not freely distributable would need to be placed
> in non-free.

No! Packages that are not freely modifiable or usable must
also go in non-free, because the user (installer, distributor)
needs to be aware of special conditions for that package.

> Another suggestion: let's make it very easy (a single dpkg option) to
> extract the copyright information from any .deb package without
> actually installing it

dpkg --fsys-tarfile foo.deb | tar xOf - usr/doc/foo/copyright.gz | zcat

(Easily disguised within a shellscript, which could also automatically
take care of minor details such as compressed or uncompressed copyright
files. If you do it right, you won't restrict it to the copyright file.)

> > Of course it is. If you move to a country that doesn't have any
> > laws about intellectual property, everything is free. Debian,
> Where is such a country? :-)

I don't know of any where copyrights don't exist in the law.
Some countries such as Russia and China have had some small
unwillingness applying their laws, no doubt because they have
more important things to attend to, so de facto they haven't
had copyrights.

> Moving the project out of the said country would help here.

I doubt it.

> Note that I didn't say "place packages that depend on non-free packages
> in the main distribution".

I noted that. If package A is in the main distribution, and
depends on package B, which is in non-free, then the main
distribution doesn't work by itself -- you have to get some
additional stuff. Probably the best example of B is PGP. It
would be nice to have, for example, all mailers and news readers
to be configured to use PGP by default, but then no-one could
use mail or news on a Debian system without re-configuring or
downloading extra stuff.

> How about this: packages that are freely distributable, but depend on
> non-free packages, should be placed in contrib.

That is current policy. (Policy manual, 2.3.)

> It doesn't in the case of copyrights (which are valid almost everywhere)
> but I think it does in the case of US patents and export restrictions
> (without them, many of the currently non-free packages would be free).

It doesn't help the patent issue to move the distribution out of the
country. Use of patented software without a license is illegal even
if you ftp'd the program from abroad.

Patented programs belong in non-free, even if only the US would be
affected by them. (Until and unless we have no users in the US, of

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