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Re: Free software

> > Without wanting to raise the anybody's hackles, I'd like to ask this list
> > what's wrong with a company that wants to contribute it's technology to
> > Debian, but not destroy any competitive advantage it might have in the
> > market?
> From my point of view - nothing. But current Debian's treatment of the
> definition of "free" software and Debian's relationships with 
> "non-free" software are ...ahem.. quite immature and not self-consistent.

Please don't start this again :(

To quote the recently published <http://www.debian.org/social_contract.html>:

  Thus, although non-free software isn't a part of Debian, we support its use,
  and we provide infrastructure (such as our bug-tracking system and mailing
  lists) for non-free software packages.

I think the reason this comes up again and again is the words that we use when 
we think about what we are doing.  The first five words I thought of to 
describe the fact that we don't put all the software in a big lump were:

  discriminate, separate, isolate, differentiate, classify

Unfortunately, all of these make my sub conscious civil-rights alarm go off, 
which gives a negative slant to anything that follows.

Perhaps, if we could come up with some words that have not been hijacked in 
the past by a totalitarian regime, we could stop worrying about the fact that 
we don't use just one directory for storing all our packages.

How about:

  For the convenience of our users, we consolidate all packages into one
  of three groups, depending upon the details of their copyright.  The three
  groups are called non-free, contrib and main, their meanings are as follows:

  non-free:   This group of packages have copyrights that restrict their
              distribution in a way that might inconvenience CD manufacturers.
              If you wish to distribute these please check the individual

  contrib:    This group of packages have copyrights (or depend upon packages),
              that might prohibit their use by some of our users.

  main:       This group of packages have copyrights that allow their use in 
              the situations our users have come to expect (see the Debian free
              software guidelines for more details: 

This emphasises the fact that the directory structure reflects the 
restrictions placed upon us by our upstream authors, rather than some Freeware 
bigotry that people read into most statements of this kind.

Cheers, Phil.

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