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Re: General Resolution: Removing non-free

[with this message, I attempt to move the debate over to
debian-project.  Please remove -devel from future messages in this

On Wed, Jun 07, 2000 at 03:42:27AM -0400, David Graham wrote:
> If the non-free software were entirely replaced by free software with the
> same functionality, then the non-free software will whither and die of its
> own accord. The fact that it continues to thrive demonstrates its
> usefulness, and forcing new users to only use free software may send them
> to other distributions, where they will be able to install a wider
> variety of software due to non-free being present.

Points like this have been made several times in the debate.

Let me just point out why they may not be valid:

The above paragraph appears to accept as given the following:

a) Free software is better than non-free software because it *works
   better*. [long-term, specifically]

Is that the motivation for the existence of the debian project?

Or is it the following suggestion:

b) Free software is better than non-free software because it is
   *morally better*.


It's up to you to decide.  I became a debian member because I believed
(b).  I also hope that (a) is true, although I'm not yet entirely
convinced by that.  But I really believe (b).

Now, as it happens, I won't support this amendment.  I believe that
the time is not yet ripe for this change. I believe that the time
/will be/ ripe, sometime, and I will support a similar amendment

But I think that people should remember that Debian was created on a
moral stance, not a practical one.

Also, I don't believe that removing non-free from debian prevents
people from using non-free software.  Alien still exists.  Packages
can still be installed however upstream /expects/ you to install them
(which is rarely a package).

In the specific case of lyx, since I'm the lyx maintainer, if this
resolution passes I will distribute xforms debs from my personal
website until lyx goes totally free (very likely to be before the
release of woody).


Jules Bean                          |        Any sufficiently advanced 
jules@{debian.org,jellybean.co.uk}  |  technology is indistinguishable
jmlb2@hermes.cam.ac.uk              |               from a perl script

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