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

On Thu, Mar 11, 1999 at 02:35:35PM -0500, Dale Scheetz wrote:
> > 
> > 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
> developers.

I think I should make clear in a diagramm how I unterstand the different
usage of the word "Debian":

| Debian  G r o u p                                            |
|                                                              |
| +-----------------------+  +-----------------+ +-----------+ |
| | Debian Distribution   |  | contrib         | | non-free  | |
| +-----------------------+  +-----------------+ +-----------+ |

If you look at the things in this way, there is no contradiction.

We (Debian Group) build the Debian (Distribution), which does not include
contrib/non-free. Still we can support (which is a weak word actually in the
context of Social Contract) non-free/contrib, although it is not a part of
Debian (Distribution).

> 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.

Well, if you really point it down to the actual words of the Social
Contract, there is not much left to say. The word Debian is used in
ambigous ways.

[section 1 of social contract]

> 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.

I don't think so. I look at it the why I explained it above. And, supporting
and providing is, though not a weak relation, certainly not a very strong

> > 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".

Yes, sorry.
> 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.

Still, there are differences. I am not a software, as far as I know (I
consists of ones and flesh). It is useful to use Debian Group or Debian
Project on the one hand and Debian Distribution on the other when talking
about this.

> 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.

See, this is what made me a bit angry (and made my mail sound harsh). Nobody
is suggesting that we remove contrib and non-free from Debian Project. We
can't remove it from Debian Distribution (because it is not part of it, see
above). So you are running against open doors.

However, I am not confused about it, because I have always understood the
Social Contract the way I do, and I am quite certain I am close to the
original intentions. Maybe you should start a proposal to clarify the social
contract, now that the constitution is in place?

> 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.

I think you are wrong, or that you are using the word "distribution" in a
wrong way. The Debian distribution is the Debian software in main/. Again,

     The _main_ section forms the _Debian GNU/Linux distribution_.

No "relaxed" reading here. It's pretty clear.

> > > > 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
> content.

I don't think I understand the last sentence. What do you mean by
"restricted", and I can't reckognize what the "while" refers to, sorry (my
english is not the best). If it is important, you will have to rephrase that
for Mr. Stupid :)

But I agree that our actions contradict a little bit the Social Contract,
and this is why I want to have a clearer distinction between main and
contrib/non-free. I see the contradiction not in the SOcial Contract, or
Policy, but in the following:

 ^^^^^^^^^^^^        ^^^^^^^^ <- implies non-free is part of stable Debian distribution 

I think this i sthe real contradiction, and should be fixed by moving
non-free outside of the Debian hierarchy. But as this is a radical proposal
and hits hard on our mirrors, I also accept any solution that makes a
serious attempt at providing some place where only the Free Software is

> > > > 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 can support things that don't belong to you. Debian (project) can support
non-free software although it is not part of Debian (distribution).

"Official" is really a tag for our CD. Official Debian CD. We could even
change the requirements for the CD only to carry stuff from
official.debian.org (now I got you in the trap, because I know you dislike
the Official Debian CD concept, and now I offer you an alternative :)

> > > > 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.

Not in this thread, no. Well, if the FSF decides to do that, and Debian not,
I will be in a difficult situation. I would have to point everyone to the
FSF variation of Debian, instead to Debian directly. 

But then, I think we don't need to talk about FSF here. We have the same
mission, a 100% free operating system. I think what I am opposed to is that
if I hit any Debian site, I automatically hit a site that is carrying
non-free software. (and even under debian/dists!).

> > 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.

I didn't say that. It is those false statements and assumptions that make
this thread difficult.

I said that contrib/non-free are not part of Debian Distribution.

Sure, we support and distribute(verb) this software. But not as part of our
distribution (noun).

> > 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.

I mostly agree with you. But placing non-free and contrib below
/debian/dists/ is telling another message.

So, what I am actually asking for is that the things you described above are
realized consistently throughout the Debian project (including ftp site).

For clarification:

What I don't want:
* I do not want to "ditch" either contrib nor non-free.
* I don't want to make it hard for users to get them, access them, and I
  don't want to hide these questions.
* I do not want to change the default in Debian, that non-free and contrib
  are available through apt/dselect without configuration.

What I want:
* I want to say someone, "here look at xxx.debian.org, there is only Free
  Software, and it is a complete distribution."
* I would like not to see non-free/contrib below /debian/dist on at least one
  Debian site.

> 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?

I did not refer to any dependencies?!

> > > 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? ;-)

Yep :)
> 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 why I don't want to do that. Again, you are slamming(correct word?)
against doors widely open. However, what do you mean by >"official"

Note that the Official Debian CD Image has the non-free and contrib section
removed, and clued users are not slueless as to where they might be found.

So, in addition to servers who carry non-free/contrib, I'd like to see one
server who does not. I don't even request that this is the default server,
or that it is widely advertised at the best. Please accept that my actual
interest is pretty modest. 

> 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.

Well, I don't remember anyone lately requesting that. So this one is
> 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.

I admit that there is no technical advantage. But it does make some users
even more aware of the difference.

I don't think we need a technical reason for all decisions. For example, it
is a political decision to consider packages with the "non-commercial"
clause as non-free. We are not commercial, and it wouldn't be our problem.
It would be the problem of CD vendors (okay, here is a slight technical

> 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.

I don't buy this. They could be anywhere and still be in sync.
In fact, critical bugs against non-free or contrib packages won't hold up
the release. They'd just be removed.

> 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."

This is exaggeration (or FUD). The packages could be anywhere else
inside a stable/ directory, just as they are now. This would not render the
packages "unusable". Dinstall and apt-get are completely automated.
> 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.

As your assumption is flawed (that moving non-free or contrib outside of
debian/dist would risk the usability of the packages), so is your reasoning.

Otherwise I think we are not really of extremely different opinion, we just
see another side of the same thing. And, of course, you have still some
fears that can't be explained by what i said or requested.

Thank you for the explanation,

`Rhubarb is no Egyptian god.' Debian http://www.debian.org   finger brinkmd@ 
Marcus Brinkmann              GNU    http://www.gnu.org     master.debian.org
Marcus.Brinkmann@ruhr-uni-bochum.de                        for public  PGP Key
http://homepage.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/Marcus.Brinkmann/       PGP Key ID 36E7CD09

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