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Re: General Resolution: Removing non-free

I forgot to sign my original second to this proposal.



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
> Constitution.
> ------
> Debian General Resolution
> Resolved:
> 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
>   software."
>   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."
> 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.
> 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.
> 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.
> --------  end of Resolution --------
> Rationale:
> 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.
> 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.
> 3. Supporting non-free software gives nothing to Debian.
> At one time, one may have argued that we needed to support a non-free
> section in order to have a complete and coherent system.  As discussed
> in #1, this requirement does not today exist.
> 4. This clause was never debated when the Social Contract was created.
> 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.
> 5. The existance of the non-free section is being used as a cop-out by
> those that seek to peddle non-free wares.
> That the continued existance of this section lends credibitility and a
> distribution channel to those that would seek to undermine our Free
> Software distribution, or to act as leeches upon it, is a shortcoming
> in our current policy.
> 6. Most importantly: it's the right thing to do, morally.
> 'Nuff said.
> -- 
> John Goerzen <jgoerzen@complete.org>                       www.complete.org
> Sr. Software Developer, Progeny Linux Systems, Inc.    www.progenylinux.com
> #include <std_disclaimer.h>                     <jgoerzen@progenylinux.com>
> -- 
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