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Bruce's rhetoric

I think many people are confusing the drama of Bruce's rhetoric with what
is actually stated in our official documentation as regards our purposes
and policies.

Bruce is personally a fairly extreme proponent of free software, by the
GPL's definition of free.  And that's fine with me.  That doesn't mean that
everyone involved in the Debian project has to share the "extremism" of his
views.  As long as they can come to an agreement with "official doctrine",
that's fine.  I do not think Bruce's mini-manifesto constitutes official
doctrine -- though it does give us insight into the principles that guide
his leadership decisions.

Frankly, I think people are much more distressed over the tone of what
Bruce wrote than its actual content.

When I read Bruce's post, I thought, "gee, Bruce, you're not much of a
politician, are you?"  In light of the upcoming election this wasn't
exactly a move calculated to expand the base of his appeal.  At least *I*
expected the firestorm it generated.  Frankly, I like the fact that he did
it.  He's not prostituting himself for the sake of retaining his leadership
position, and that's a significantly positive characteristic.

At any rate, while I don't expect to be on the official list of eligible
voters by the time the election rolls around, I do think that Ian Jackson,
with his perhaps excessive concern over democratic procedure and
consensus-building, is an excellent counterpoint to Bruce's ideological
purity.  I'd suggest they should be co-presidents if that that would lead
to them arguing endlessly with each other.

I don't think Debian should be split into factions over this.  I think
Bruce and Ian each reflect a "type" of developer that we have.  As long as
they both remain with the project in influential positions I think we will
do well.

That said, I think it's important to remember that we're not competitors of
Red Hat's in the strictest sense.  They're a bit more conventional than we
are.  With our committment to free software -- make no mistake, it's been
there from the very beginning, when the FSF gave Ian Murdock a grant to
develop Debian -- we occupy a unique niche among Linux distributions that
we've carved out for ourselves.

If some people have a big problem with the DFSG, consider what things would
be like if we were still an official part of the Free Software Foundation.
I think the "compromise" has already been made and the course we've charted
is a good one.

G. Branden Robinson                 |  Convictions are more dangerous enemies
Purdue University                   |  of truth than lies.
branden@purdue.edu                  |  -- Friedrich Nietzsche
http://www.ecn.purdue.edu/~branden/ |

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