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Re: Can we pull KDE?


[Shaleh: I've included a quick comment in here on your response as well]

On Mon, 7 Sep 1998, Remco Blaakmeer wrote:

>>       2) We have a small number of other packages where the author has
>>          also expressed an intent to change the license (or the
>>          library) for the next version, but the current version has
>>          this problem.
>Sure, and we wait patiently for the next version.

    Yes, but while we wait do or do we not remove all of those

>> unlikely to happen, I am willing to consider KDE a lost cause, and
>> remove it completely from Debian specifically for that reason -- that
>> the problem can no longer be corrected.
>Yes. This is a real, and very valid, reason for dropping KDE from Debian.

    If the reason I gave is the more compelling one, then that is the
one that should be documented and then presented as the reason for
removal, especially since Redhat makes no mention of this problem.

>This is definately not an issue for the general voting mechanism: you
>can't vote for things like "is it legal to distribute KDE?". And my

    Part of the problem is that none of us are lawyers, and as a
result, having a few developers say that it's not legal to distribute
KDE doesn't necessarily mean that much either, no matter how right we
believe we are ;) But that's not what I wanted to vote about anyway
(see below).

>impression was that the technicl committee is supposed to be solving
>technical probelms, not legal problems.

    Hm.  If that is the case, then perhaps Ian Jackson should make the
call.  Which may or may not take just as long :)

>If it is clear that KDE doesn't have a proper license and it can't be
>fixed, it should be sufficient to file a big against ftp.debian.org, IMO.

    Well, in any case a critical bug can be filed now to bring some
scrutiny to the matter.  The problem is, of course, that "clear" is a
matter of perspective.  We've already had one post from someone who
doesn't believe there's a problem.  On top of that, KDE still has one
way left to them to make themselves a viable project, and that is to
switch from QT to Harmony.  Shaleh has pointed out that they heavily
opposed this in the past because they were highly enamoured of
TrollTech, but at the time, there wasn't an issue of whether or not it
was legal to do so.  The question is, now that it's really come down
to the bone, do we have faith that if we start working on them again
on the Harmony issue, at least some of the people high up in the KDE
project will take the licensing issues seriously enough to consider
this.  Certainly too much work has been done now for them to even
consider porting to anything else.  Of course, I still don't know if
Harmony is functional yet.

>Are you sure you want to go through all that trouble? If any people would
>happen to disagree, just point them at
>http://www.redhat.com/redhat/qtlicense.html and say that a) this document
>contains all the reasons RedHat needed to drop KDE and that b) Debian is
>dropping KDE for the same reasons.

    I find that to be a bad idea, mostly because I do not believe that
the reasons listed by Redhat alone would be sufficient grounds to
remove KDE from Debian.  The addendum I made in my last posting and
KDE's previous opposition to Harmony is what tips the scales.
    Part of the reason that I'm taking a hesitant stance on this issue
is that the actions we take here will become part of a much larger
statement on the part of Debian.  If we remove KDE from this
distribution, it says, "Debian no longer believes that KDE is a viable
project, no matter how well it was coded.  Since KDE does not appear
to have the option of relicensing, and opposes the only way they could
make their software legally distributable, Debian now considers KDE a
dead project, and is no longer willing to support it in any way."

    Hm.  Kind of harsh, isn't it.  Unfortunately, it occurs to me that
that may be the only way to get them to take this seriously.

    Which brings me to the reason I wanted a vote, and the steps that
I feel need to be taken if KDE is in fact to be removed.  What I felt
called for intervention from a Debian authority or at least a vote by
the developers is whether or not we will continue to have faith that
KDE can be convinced to at least slowly begin to move their code from
QT to Harmony, or that they can somehow find another way out.  If we
as a project cannot hold that faith, then KDE certainly needs to be
removed.  If we can, it should stay (perhaps moved to non-free in the
interim) while we wait in good faith for the changes to occur, the
same way we do for our smaller programs.  
    For the record, if put to the vote right now, I would say that I
do not have faith in KDE.  In spite of that, I believe that my beliefs
should not be the basis for a decision of this magnitude, even if I
know there are other developers who agree with me.  I do not want
Debian to say, "A few of our developers think that KDE is dead, so
we're dropping it."  I want Debian to either say, "This project will
continue to support the efforts of KDE to become Free Software," or,
"This project no longer believes that KDE is viable, and until such
time as they correct their problems, we oppose its distribution."  If
we're going to do something this big, let's do it right.  Complete
with press reports, news sent to /., official statement by the Project
Leader.  Everything.
    A few developers, no matter how vocal, no matter how convinced,
should not be representing Debian in that fashion.

 Zed Pobre <zed@va.debian.org>  |  PGP key on servers, fingerprint on finger
* "The welfare of the People is the chief law." - Cicero

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