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Re: Free software

On Fri, 11 Jul 1997, Alex Yukhimets wrote:

> 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. 
> (That's basically the reason  we have that longish discussions on
> copyright issues.)

Perhaps there are some inconsistencies, and they should be ironed out.
What did you have in mind?

> I think Debian should become much more flexible. I know that this
> point of view will be considered radical but I think that it is
> ridiculous situation when, for instance, motif applications, which
> are (and have been for a long time) industry standard for virtually
> every UNIX system (with some well-known exceptions) are only good for
> "contrib"!

Well, MS-DOS and its successors are industry standards as well.  Payware is
Payware, and as a free Linux distribution we can't give special
consideration to payware vendors just because they're not Microsoft.

> If we want to become one of the standard Unix distributions we would
> have to admit and cope much better with the fact of existence of
> commercial and "non-free" software. Let's forget the illusion that
> it is possible to have 100% "free" distribution working for real
> world.

No, let's not.  I was under the impression, reinforced by having spoken to
Ian Murdock personally (though I didn't grill him on this particular
point), that one of the original design goals and missions of Debian was to
be just that -- 100% free.

Why not see just how much we can accomplish with that "limitation"?

If you want the resources and economics of a company that piles non-free on
top of free, Caldera is always around.  And in most cases, what's good for
Caldera and Red Hat is good for us, so we can derive benefit without
having to abandon our non-profit status.  And let's not forget that we, in
turn, *provide* benefits to the rest of the Linux community, in the form
of home-grown packages, bugfixes, or just plain old Good Ideas.  And we do
it for free.

I don't think Debian has a chance to be the most popular operating system
in the world.  I don't think, given its philosophy, it even has a chance to
be the most popular Linux distribution.  We don't have the hard cash to
advertise and blitz like Red Hat does.

Big deal; we're number two.  That means we work harder.

I'll put up with some of Debian's cosmetic headaches as compared to Red Hat
(which, even so, are being addressed vigorously), because I agree with what
I understand to be Debian's philosophy.  And anyway, I like using the
geeks' and hackers' distribution (though I guess some would say that real
geeks and hackers don't need distributions, or still use SLS...).

I like this distribution, and I like 100% free.

> Franckly, I do not expect any feedback _now_, let it just be something
> to think about.

I think perhaps your personal vision of what Debian should be differs on a
fundamental level from that of the project leadership.  Then again, maybe
it's I who am wrong.  Only Bruce, or maybe Ian Jackson or Christian
Schwartz or someone else in the project with a title, can clear this up.

Maybe I'll check the web page for a mission statement.

Sorry for the post of dubious relevance.

G. Branden Robinson                 |  A committee is a life form with six or
Purdue University                   |  more legs and no brain.
branden@purdue.edu                  |  -- Robert Heinlein
http://www.ecn.purdue.edu/~branden/ |

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