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Re: Debian FreeBSD

OK, several people have asked similar questions.  Apparently I was
either confusing or not explicit enough in the original message.

Here are the facts that should basically be undisputed:

 1) Proprietary software is bad and we are dedicated to improving
    Free Software for the purpose of eliminating proprietary.

 2) The BSD license permits anyone to take code licensed with it
    and make said code proprietary.

 3) With respect to 1, this has occured frequently and continues to
    occur.  Examples include SunOS, BSD/OS, parts of Windows, 
    parts of SCO OSs, and several others.

 4) The kernel (and perhaps libc) in our distribution would be
    vulnerable to the same problem if it were BSD-licensed, which
    it would be.

 5) By allowing others to proprietarize this part of the kernel,
    because of #2 and #4 (which indicates that the kernel is
    #2), and because proprietary code resulting from #2 conflicts with
    our goals as with #1, we should not support it when it is feasable
    to support something with a more favorable license.

Now then, given this, we must ask: what is the purpose of an
officially branded and SPI-supported Debian FreeBSD distribution?
Well, our social contract says that this purpose should be to promote
free software and help our users.  In that case, we must assume that
if we add Debian FreeBSD, it will be popular enough to make an impact
(otherwise its irrelevant to any discussion including this one).

However, in so doing, we present an opportunity for people to
proprietarize the most important part of our distribution.  The
'embrace and extend' attack is one that could be waged against us.  A
company could produce a kernel containing some advantage over the Free 
one, win people over to its side, and in so doing hurt free software.
Microsoft has successfully employed these tactics numerous times in
the past, for instance, and believing that they (or someone else)
would not if it would benefit them in the future is silly.

Another problem is that we are essentially giving first aid to
software that is dying (and rightfully so) because of its license.  We 
should not be inflating the stature of BSD in the eyes of those that
seek to undermine free software, as so doing only serves to increase
the pressure to proprietarize it.

Yet another problem is fragmentation.  When it is trivial to
proprietarize such an important part of the system as the kernel,
fragmentation is virtually inevitable and multiple incompatible
versions, each with proprietary code, result.  This occured time and
time again with BSD-licensed code, and will continue to occur if the
BSD-licensed kernel does not continue on its downward path.
Fragmentation is our worst enemy, I should think.

There are many other problems associated with a proprietary kernel,
that I'm sure a moment or two of thought will make readily apparent.

-- John

Anders Arnholm <Anders@Arnholm.nu> writes:

> I does fail to see how a BSD/GNU based distribution is going to impact
> the future of the Free Software movement. (Unless you by Free only means
> GPL-based, and think that the BSD system is a loot better that Linux
> based kernels). 
> I fail fo see that more free software in any way does impose a threat to
> any-one. No-one but that creator of the software may change it to be
> none-free that the same for BSD as for GPL. The original code does not
> disappes when someone does a new version. (I still have Debian
> GNU/Linux, even thou Corell started there own version. In practice it
> does not matter to me about there Licence at all, I STILL have and use
> the original Deibai distribution...)
> / Balp
> -- 
>       o_   Anders Arnholm,               Open Software, Technical Programmer
>  o/  /\    anders@arnholm.nu             Phone  : +46-703-160969
> /|_, \\    http://www.arnholm.nu/~balp/  http://www.opensoftware.se
> /
> `

John Goerzen   Linux, Unix consulting & programming   jgoerzen@complete.org |
Developer, Debian GNU/Linux (Free powerful OS upgrade)       www.debian.org |
The 23,328,590th prime number is 439,560,887.

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