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Ian's DFSG2 would harm Debian and Free Software

Ian's DFSG2 would harm Debian and Free Software

The new version of the DFSG, as proposed by Ian Jackson, would have
disastrous consequences on the public image of Debian, and would lead to
a split of the free software movement, if not Debian itself.
I'll take the time and sketch how this step would be received/seen by
the public.

- This was obviously motivated by the QPL draft for Qt, and the
intention is clearly that Qt and KDE be kept out of Debian
- Those KDE advocates were right who said that Debian (i.e. the radical
'majority' of developers) simply don't *want* KDE in their distribution;
that Debian lied about their real motivation to exclude KDE and that
they abuse their Social Contract to further personal preferences.
- The proposal comes from a convinced KDE enemy/hater, who even voted
against the KDE newsgroup. Not convincing for fair suggestion.
- He wants to push it through in a rush, "by the end of [his] term as
Debian leader", to exploit the still existant anti-Qt and anti-KDE
feeling among some developers. Particularly peculiar is that this
proposal would be put into effect by the end of the year, i.e. before
the final QPL is out. Instead of working with TrollTech to try and
improve the current QPL draft, this would give a clear signal to them:
"We don't care about your problems, we simply don't want you in!"
- The fact that Ian wants to finish this in his "term as leader"
indicates something else: He wants to raisen his profile on the expense
of Debian, eradicate the signs of former Debian leader Bruce Perens and
bring himself in a good position of becoming e.g. the next SPI
president. With Open Source becoming increasingly popular, there is a
lot of fame to be earned.
- Even other Debian developers have pointed out that the arguments
against the 'patch only' licenses do not hold (see Chris Waters
Most of what seems to be problematic is of practical (RMS), i.e.
technical nature and can be solved with technical means (like improving
CVS). It would be more sensible if Debian negotiated with TT to a
temporary 'CVS exemption' from the patch clause, until CVS can handle
this better.
- Most important: The respected personalities in the Linux community
will sharply object to this proposal, because
o It's incompatible with the OSD
o It prefers license over technical superiority even among free software
o It's incompatible with the FSF's free software definition
This is why ESR, Linus and RMS won't welcome Ian's DFSG. This means that
a large part of the Linux community will also reject it.

Perhaps I've forgotten something, os something won't happen as
exspected, but most of it is probable. 
Ian's DFSG draft is and will always be seen as an attack against KDE and
TrollTech, no matter how often he says that it is just for the sake of
truly free software. Free software (in its most consequent form) is RMS,
and standing up against RMS doesn't make you look very credible and
Debian is too big and too important to have a <rant>'radical career
guy'</rant> tinker around with it.

Besides some nuisances, there are IMHO also several advantages of the
'patch only' approach as described in the QPL that haven't been
mentioned yet:
- patches must be properly documented and separate from the original
sources: more transparency for other developers, easier to locate bugs
and conflicts between certain patches
- responsibility for each patch is clear: more difficult to
intentionally introduce trojan horses anonymously
- people who don't need certain features can easily revert to the
'pristine source'
- `Patch system` totally hidden by the package management system, those
who use dpkg or rpm see no difference
- patch clause only relevant for developers ("people who know how to
deal with this"), modified binaries may be distributed for users
As a compromise for those developers who still have problems with the
patch system, Debian could ask TrollTech to allow a
"original+patches+modified source" distribution as well.

All in all, Debian should provide *guidelines* for free software, not a
"License for Licenses" like this new draft. 
After all, it is the free decision of the Debian developers what
software gets in and what not. Discussing and deciding such issues has
always been a part of Debian's culture. 

B Avus

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