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Re: Draft new DFSG

knghtbrd@debian.org (Joseph Carter) wrote:
>It was suggested I say this here even though others have said the same sorts
>of things.

I'm only just catching up on -devel (1000 messages to go!), so this,
too, may already have been said...  I want to say it before it becomes
completely irrelevant, though.

>I believe the suggested changes to (which is not changes but a complete
>replacement) DFSG is a dud, completely.  I believe trying to adopt it will
>hurt and quite probably destroy Debian.  Here's why:

All good points.

And it's the truth that we really -cannot- outlaw the BSD advertising
clause or patch clause without doing a lot of reimplementation.
How would we kill(1) processes, do whois(1) lookups, write(1) to each
others terminals, or script(1) our actions, otherwise?  We'd need to
replace all the stuff which wouldn't conform with the DFSG2 in at least
the base system, and preferably all required, important and standard
packages too, before we even think about adopting the DFSG2.

The exception for "legacy" licences is useless, IMO.  It would merely
force us to use old versions of BSD utilities, apache, and anything
else with an advertising clause.  We'd be stuck with legacy software,
or with the thankless task of reimplementing it all.

And our users would probably depart in droves if we stopped updating
to new versions of apache, or dropped TeX and friends.  Even if we,
the developers, still used Debian, the system would be far less solid
without the help of our users reporting bugs and fixes.

>I will have to vote _NO_ on this provided it ever gets that far.

Yes, I would too.

Here's what I think:

The Debian developers can surely be trusted to interpret the Debian
Free Software Guidelines as -guidelines-, and, if in doubt, use their
intelligence to decide what is sufficiently free and/or discuss it with
other developers (isn't this is what we have debian-legal for?).  I think
the current DFSG is perfectly adequate for its purpose.  Perhaps it could
use a minor amendment occasionally, but it doesn't need replacing with
Ian's proposed DFSG2, for the reasons Joseph gave.

On the other hand, the OSD -is- subject to hostile interpretation.
It shouldn't be using the same wording as the DFSG, because it's for a
different audience, and a different purpose.  Companies are designing
licence documents to fit the OSD.  The wording it inherited from the
DFSG wasn't designed for that, but as a set of guidelines.

BUT:    Ian's proposed DFSG2 -does- appear to have been
        designed to withstand hostile interpretation,
        therefore my suggestion is that the DFSG remain
        substantially as it is, while Ian should propose
        his document as version 2 of the Open Source
        Definition, instead.

>Should Debian become crippled as the DFSG2 would cripple it, I'd go and find
>myself a real distribution because Debian sure wouldn't be anymore.

I don't think you'd be alone.  My preferred course at that point
would probably be for someone to set up a new distribution starting
from a recent snapshot of Debian (pre DFSG2) and continue from there.
The DFSG1 ensures we have the freedom to do this.  The DFSG should just
define the minimum amount of freedom that we -require-.  I believe we
already have that in the current version.

Charles Briscoe-Smith
White pages entry, with PGP key: <URL:http://alethea.ukc.ac.uk/wp?95cpb4>
PGP public keyprint: 74 68 AB 2E 1C 60 22 94  B8 21 2D 01 DE 66 13 E2

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