Re: General Resolution: Removing non-free
On 6 Jun 2000, John Goerzen wrote:
> Good evening,
> This is a formal call for sponsers for the below proposed Debian
> General Resolution in accordance with section 4.2 of the Debian
I formally object to this resolution.
> Debian General Resolution
> A. That the Debian Social Contract with the Free Software Community be
> amended as follows:
> 1. That mentions of non-free be stricken from Section 5, and text be
> inserted, the remainder to read: "We acknowledge that some of our
> users require the use of programs that don't conform to the Debian
> Free Software Guidelines. Our contrib area may help with this
> 2. That Section 1 be amended such that the final sentence reads: "We
> will support our users who develop and run non-free software on
> Debian, but we will neither make the system depend upon nor distribute
> an item of non-free software. Debian may continue to distribute
> non-free software previously distributed via its FTP site prior to the
> woody distribution."
Having a contrib section means part of debian will depend on non-free. Are
you implying that contrib be removed as well? If not, then you are
Mentioning an exact code name of debian in an official document is something I
> B. That the non-free section be removed from woody on all Debian
> archives, and that all packages so placed there in accordance with the
> definition in Policy section 2.1.4 be removed from the Distribution.
> The introduction into Debian of any package meeting the non-free
> definition in Policy section 2.1.4, or failing the Debian Free
> Software Guidelines, shall be permanently banned.
All non-free sections removed, eh? Then how can we 'continue to distribute
non-free software previously distributed via its FTP site prior to the woody
If non-free is removed, then a package obviously can't be placed there. Do
you mean to say that all packages currently in existance in non-free shall be
removed? If so, that contradicts with A2 above.
If non-free doesn't exist, a package can't be introduced, obviously. If I
upload a package to incoming, and the ftp admins, when looking over the new
pkg, discover that it is non-DFSG, they currently reject it. I see no reason
to explicitly state this.
Permanmently banning a package is bad. This gives no leeway to the package
becoming free in the future.
> C. That the maintainer of the Debian Policy Manual, or an appointee of
> the Debian Project Leader, be directed to update that manual
> respective of the changes to the Project and general Project policy
> detailed in sections A and B above.
Stating of the obvious.
> D. That the maintainers of the Debian Archive and website, or an
> appointee of the Debian Project Leader, be directed to implement the
> changes to the Debian Archive and website to reflect the changes to
> Debian enacted by the foregoing clauses in this Resolution.
Stating of the obvious.
> -------- end of Resolution --------
> Any one of the following should at least justify the examination of
> the issue.
> 1. Non-free software is no longer an essential or standard part of a
> typical installation.
I need to say something first, to get it off my chest. I think that you have
a somewhat tainted view of the world. Your primary system is alpha, not
i386. By being non-i386, you already limit the amount of non-free software
that is available to you, so you don't know how useful it really can be, in a
production, real world environment, where machines needs to talk to disparate
> Whereas at one time, most everyone used non-free software such as
> Netscape for web browsing, acroread for PDF reading, or xv for graphic
> viewing, there are quality free replacements for all of these
> programs. Therefore, the rationale of "we need non-free for usable
> standard system" no longer applies.
> There has been some discussion about whether mozilla is ready for
> prime time right now. The point can be argued. However, let me put
> forth the following observations: 1) it will almost certainly be ready
> by the time woody is released (in about 2 years, of the potato time is
> any guide); and 2) using one program to justify the continued support
> of all current non-free programs is a weak argument at best.
> 2. Supporting non-free software gives nothing back to the Free
> Software community.
> The contract is supposed to be one between us and the Free Software
> community. Supporting a non-free section in no way supports Free
> Software or its community.
No, the contract is between us and our USERS.
> 3. Supporting non-free software gives nothing to Debian.
Oh, but it does. It gives us more users.
> 4. This clause was never debated when the Social Contract was created.
It was given the chance, but no one bothered.
> At least I cannot find evidence of much discussion on it in the
> sketchy archives of e-mail at that time that exist today. It appears
> that Bruce put it in out of his own occord and nobody cared to discuss
> the point. Probably because at the time, it was just assumed that
> this clause was necessary because of the state of affairs back then.
> Today, with the benefit of the "20/20 hindsight", we can look back and
> say that promising to support non-free indefinately was short-sighted
> and probably ill-advised -- although we could not see it at the time.
> I maintain that neither Project inertia, nor previous
> short-sightedness, nor tradition, nor complacency are valid reasons
> for continuing this obsolete policy.
If I throw a candy bar wrapper out of my car window, and get pulled over by a
cop, and sent to jail for 20 years, do you think the judge would let me go
'because I didn't know about the law?'
Just because you can't find an archive of it, doesn't mean that it didn't
happen(I'm not saying that it did).
> 5. The existance of the non-free section is being used as a cop-out by
> those that seek to peddle non-free wares.
Low blow. People pkg non-free software, because they NEED it for some
function, and a free alternative doesn't exist to fulfill their needs.
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