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Re: freedom-subtracted.debian.org (was: Re: KDE)

On Thu, 11 Mar 1999, Marcus Brinkmann wrote:

> On Thu, Mar 11, 1999 at 09:17:06AM -0500, Dale Scheetz wrote:
> > > 
> > > But only "main" is our distribution. contrib and non-free is not part of the
> > > Debian distribution (in the sense that main is). This is a fact that could
> > 
> > FUD. The Debian group manages, and distributes, main, contrib, and
> > non-free. Each of these distributions are created by Debian developers who
> > consider them important to the completeness of the distribution. Saying
> > that they aren't part of Debian is a mistake.
> Don't drag me into a discussion about terms and usage. If you mean with
> "Debian" everything under the sun that has something to do with the Debian
> project, contrib and non-free are paret of Debian as well as every
> developer, every user and such.

Well, not users. The Debian organization _is_ the collection of

I am simply pointing out that our actions with reguard to these sections
contradicts the parts of the social contract you and Jules insist on
quoting, and that there are sections of the social contract that
contradict other sections of the contract.

> I prefer to refer to the following texts:
> Social contract, number *1* (in words ONE, the first number, the beginning of it)
>   1. Debian Will Remain 100% Free Software
>     We promise to keep the Debian GNU/Linux Distribution entirely free
>      software. 
> So, non-free CAN'T be part of "Debian", in the sense I mean the word Debian.
> Please use some tag to distinct this meaning of the word from your meaning
> of the word (which seems to be much broader), if you like, but don't confuse
> the issue at hand.

I offer another quote from the contract, which holds all of the
contradictions in one place:

"Thus, although non-free software isn't a part of Debian, we support its
use, and we provide infrastructure (such as our bug-tracking system and
mailing lists) for non-free software packages."

It is quite clear that non-free isn't part of Debian, but in the same
breath it says "we support" and "we provide". The only we I can identify
is Debian. This is a self contradiction.

> " but we will never make the system depend on an item of non-free software."
> So contrib CAN'T be part of Debian, too.
> This is settled for me. If you still object, you need to provide more then
> memorys back before the social contract and Debian's history.
> Here is another one, to stress my point:
> Debian Policy document, section 2.
> 2. The Debian Archive
> ---------------------
> [...]
>      The _main_ section forms the _Debian GNU/Linux distribution_.
> Of course, you all know that already. I wonder why you try to diluge the
> word "Debian" I used instead answering my real point. Seems you are just
> trying to argue.
I believe that you mean "dilute".

I use the word to mean what it means. Debian refers to both the
distribution and to the group which creates it. We are Debian, as much as
the software is.

While I _am_ arguing that removing contrib and non-free from the
distribution (either by interpretation, or action) is undesriable, I have
been very willing to admit that the confusion exists, and that the Social
Contract shares some of the blame for this confusion.

The reality of the situation is that Policy declares what package will go
into contrib and non-free, so Debian _is_ in full control of these
packages. To argue that the "don't belong" to the Debian distribution is
simple misdirection (supported by a "relaxed" reading of the social
contract) since we clearly control and manage those archives.

If contrib and non-free were handled the way RH handles their "contrib"
section, the distinction that the Social Contract tries to make would be
much easier to understand and follow. The fact that only Debian developers
can place packages into those sections makes them defacto components of
the distribution, dispite the contrary comments of the Social Contract.

> > > be stressed by having either a virtual domain that does essentially pointing
> > > to the normal ftp achive with symlinks but leaves contrib and non-free out.
> > > 
> > So the clueless user will never be able to find them?
> You make the assumption that this would be the default server, something I
> could live with but would not try to suggest. For me, something else can be
> the default server wich has contrib and non-free on it.
> It's interesting how you try to argue my point. First you try to drag me
> into a discussion of terms, now you make false assumptions. This is not very
> helpful. The issue is conentious enough.
The issue is contentious, not from what I have tried to argue, but from
the obvious contradictions between our actions as a group, and our
professed intentions, as presented by your reading of the Social Contract.
I have only been trying to point out the contradiction that is built into
your "restricted" interpretation of the Social Contract, while ignoring
the intent of those sections, and the fact that "we" manage/control their

> > > I do not even request that any existing domain name changes. I would only
> > > wish that we ADD a virtual domain where contrib and non-free are simply not
> > > there. official.debian.org for example. People who don't like it could use
> > > ftp.debian.org as they do now.
> > 
> > Why should we eliminate part of the distribution and then call it
> > Official?
> Because this is what Debian is. Still.

I see the reality of the situation differently. Dispite the assertions of
the Social Contract under your interpretation, the reality is that these
sections are supported by Debian.

> > > You are defending the existing structure very convincing and very hard, too.
> > > Now, can you also respect that some purists like me would enjoy a virtual
> > > domain where contrib and non-free is just not accessible? Is your tolerance
> > 
> > I have no problems with this, unless you insist that Debian should provide
> > the FSF definition of pure. Debian is _not_ the FSF, and we have other
> > concerns to deal with.
> > 
> > RMS has indicated that he would be willing to set up the additional
> > "restricted" domains. Why not take him up on it?
> Did I refer to the FSF? No. Did I refer to RMS? No. Please leave them alone
> and do their thing.

You are taking the "pure" position that was first suggested by RMS in
recent months. As they are interested in the same "pure" position, and
have offered to impliment the alternate "free" domains, it seemed to me
that they were a part of this discussion.

> I am quoting the Social Contract and the Debian Policy. I am refering to our
> own terms and definitions.
But you are doing so in a way that completely ignores the contradictions
inherent in your restricted interpretation. Debian Policy describes
explicit terms for when a package should go into contrib or non-free.
These terms are inforced by policy and the Debian community. To say that
we don't support or distribute contrib or non-free is simply incorrect.

> As everyone, RMS is free to mirror Debian and Debian only (without the
> additional support of non-free and contrib). I still think we should take
> some action on our own.

But that is exactly my point! Everyone is free to take only what they wish
from the ftp site. We make it clear that all of the packages in main are
fully free software with no distribution restrictions. We also make it
clear that packages found in contrib and non-free are not free of such
restrictions, and a "case by case" investigation of the license is
required by and CD manufacturers or others who wish to re-distribute those
products. We make those distinctions in a way that is clear and
unambiguous (dispite the confusion expressed in the Social Contract) and
allows me to only get the Free packages I desire, while leaving less than
free packages available to those who need them.

> > > huge enough to accept adding such a virtual domain, which doesn't harm
> > > anyone, especially not existing infrastructure?
> > > 
> > > I don't argue anything you said above, but it is not the only way to see it.
> > 
> > It has always been so with Debian. The current energy to change this goes
> > counter to our Social Contract.
> You should back this up with actual quotes from the Social Contract,
> otherwise I can hardly understand what you mean.
See above.

> > The dependency screen issue is a straw man. That problem (main packages
> > refering to non-free) has already been dealt with, hasn't it?
> Which dependency screen issue? You are definitely confusing this thread with
> another one. I know what you mean, but I have my own point here to make,
> please don't confuse it with one of the other discussions in the past.
So, what is your point? If all of the packages in main are free of outside
references, when do the dependencies you are refering to occur?

> > Clueless users don't ever constitute a good argument for doing anything.
> > If users can't be bothered to understand the details of what they are
> > doing, they aren't going to be able to make much use of Debian in any
> > case.
> You wrote above:
> "> So the clueless user will never be able to find them?"
> Do I need to say more?

Slay me with my own words huh? ;-)

Currently clued users know where to find contrib and non-free and know
what they expect to find there. Removing them from the "official" archives
would leave those users clueless as to where they might be found.

> > This is a political issue, not a technical one. You side with Richard on
> > the issues of purity, but Debian has historicly served a broader market
> > than that. I don't blame you for your position, as you are certainly
> > welcome to take the "pure" position, however Debian is defined to be
> > somewhat broader than that pure system you desire. That broader
> > perspective still supports your desire for a pure system by segregating
> > everything else outside of main. If we didn't support the pure system,
> > then contrib and non-free could simply be incorporated into main. This
> > would, obviously, be a mistake from both our perspectives.
> Strange. Now that I have read your mail, I can't find a single technical
> reason why we should not provide a new domain with only free software on it.
> I didn't even saw a political reason.
> Somehow I feel you didn't want to address my point. I am somewhat disappointed.
> If I misinterpret what you said, I am willing to read a clarification.
> Otherwise there is little left to say.

First of all, I am not completely opposed to making a restricted ftp site
available. What I am opposed to is removing from "public" view, those
packages that historicly have been provided by the Debian ftp site.

I simply don't see any technical advantage to the further separation of
contrib and non-free. They are already separate from the main, free,
distribution. What technical advantage is gained by such "fancy" slight of
hand? I submit that the only gain is a political one, and I am not
convinced that it would constitute a "win" for Debian or our users.

We already deliver a "completely free" system in main. We also deliver
contrib and non-free, and we do so under /dists so that those packages
will be "in sync" with the rest of the released distribution. These are
all technical decissions that make the installation of such packages
possible. Any weakening of those connections would make those packages
unusable, and thus violate another section of the Social Contract:

"We will be guided by the needs of our users and the free-software
community. We will place their interests first in our priorities."

I read "first" here to mean #1 (number one) on our list. This seems to be
in conflict with the part of the Social Contract that you are most fond of
quoting, but is the part of the contract that I lean toward in these kinds
of discussions. It seems to me that we already support both your quoted
section and mine. It isn't clear to me that what you suggest would satisfy
both requirements in the way that current practice does, so I continue to
be concerned with your interpretations and goals.


_-_-_-_-_-   Author of "The Debian Linux User's Guide"  _-_-_-_-_-_-

aka   Dale Scheetz                   Phone:   1 (850) 656-9769
      Flexible Software              11000 McCrackin Road
      e-mail:  dwarf@polaris.net     Tallahassee, FL  32308

_-_-_-_-_-_- If you don't see what you want, just ask _-_-_-_-_-_-_-

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