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Re: Ian's DFSG2 would harm Debian and Free Software

On Wed, 2 Dec 1998, Avus wrote:

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> 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.

I was right with you up to this point, but the rest of your argument is
pure conjecture, lacking facts, and doesn't correctly address the problems
with Ian's proposal.

Don't get me wrong. I am against the changes as well, but for completely
different reasons.

To speak to your statements below:

I don't think that this has anything to do with Qt or KDE. While it may be
true that there are some true "KDE/QT Haters" in the group, they neither
represent Debian, or even a majority of developers.

Whether or not Ian J. is one of this group I can not say, other than
to say that he doesn't look that way to me, but it is not relevant.

While Ian is our "fearless leader", we also have a constitution to govern
our actions now, and the leader must convince the electorate. Since you
have admitted that other developers agree that this is a bad idea, we
would be better served if you would stick to the reasoned arguments and
not try to make this a battle of personality. You can shoot at Ian if you
insist, but he isn't the correct target if you really want folks to listen
to why a new DFSG isn't a good idea.

Waiting is,

> - 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
> http://www.debian.org/Lists-Archives/debian-devel-9811/msg02412.html).
> 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
> honest.
> 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. 
> Regards
> B Avus
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