[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: General Resolution: Removing non-free



On Tue, Jun 06, 2000 at 10:17:18PM -0500, John Goerzen wrote:
> This is a formal call for sponsers for the below proposed Debian
> General Resolution in accordance with section 4.2 of the Debian
> Constitution.

I more or less agree, but I would like your feedback on some points before
I offer a second.

> 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."

I'm not sure we need to say anything about this at all.  Furthermore, I
think there is some possible ambiguity caused by taking two of your
statements together:

"Our contrib area may help with this software."

and

"we will neither make the system depend upon nor distribute an item of
non-free software."

It's clear that many people, especially outside Debian, do not fully grasp
the fact that contrib and non-free do not enjoy "official" status as Debian
packages.  Your proposal would eliminate the ambiguity for non-free but it
would remain for contrib.

I don't suggest that we scrap contrib; it's free software, after all.

I suggest amending A.1) to just this:

1. That mentions of non-free be stricken from Section 5.

As you said, the social contract is a contract with the free software
community.  Non-free software is, by definition, not part of that
community.  Therefore it need not be directly addressed.

I do think that we can say all we need to say about non-free software via a
tackling of the contrib issue.

>   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."

I would reword the first sentence as follows:

"We will neither make the system depend upon nor distribute software that
fails to meet our free software guidelines; however, we will support users
of our system who develop and run non-free software."

This may seem like a subtle distinction, but I think it correctly arranges
the emphasis.  The fact that we don't turn up our noses at users or VAR's
who put non-free software on top of a Debian system is a clarification of
our policy that we exclude non-free software from our own project, not the
other way around.

Our Social Contract should make it clear that we have no particular opinion
of non-free software generally; it simply is not our mission to support it.
It is the obligation of the authors/licensors of non-free software to
support it.  We support free software because it is one way that we
contribute back to, and support the continued viability of, the free
software community.

Furthermore, I strongly suggest you eliminate any temporal references to
particular distributions or timelines.  The statement "Debian may continue
to distribute non-free software previously distributed via its FTP site
prior to the woody distribution." is best made a separate part of this
resolution and not codified into the Social Contract; after woody is
released, this language would simply be an artifact without force.

> 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.

s/permanently banned/forbidden/

"Permanently banned", I think, could be construed to mean that a given
piece of software could be kept out of Debian even after its license
changed from a non-DFSG-compliant status to a DFSG-free one.  Most Debian
developers would not make this mistake of interpretation, but our social
contract is written not just for our own consumption, but quite
deliberately as a communication to rest of the free software community.
(That is its raison d' être.)

> 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.

I have no problem with these points.  As I said, the administative detail
of when the "cutover" takes place is an administrative issue that I think
should be removed from A.2) and made a separate clause or part of C).

> 'Nuff said.

Really, I don't think you can make a potentially controversial GR like this
and then just throw a sheet over it with, "'Nuff said."  :)

-- 
G. Branden Robinson            |
Debian GNU/Linux               |    Mob rule isn't any prettier just because
branden@ecn.purdue.edu         |    you call your mob a government.
roger.ecn.purdue.edu/~branden/ |

Attachment: pgpgBDhyvYky4.pgp
Description: PGP signature


Reply to: