Proposing a debian-contrib net...
It seems to me that the issue that most concerns people about John's
proposal isn't that non-free software will somehow magically become
verboten to put in .deb format---as Branden, I think, said, there's no
way the project can stop people from doing that. I think, instead,
people are worried that software will no longer be accessible because
it will no longer be distributed alongside our "real product".
Perhaps the answer, then, is for people who feel there is a need for
this stuff (and I'm one) to put our resources where our mouths are,
and take it upon ourselves to keep these things in circulation.
There's nothing to stop us from creating a network of sites mirroring
non-free, is there? Sure, it might be primarly composed of small
sites with limited bandwidth, but you're only talking about 647Mb, and
it doesn't change often---the last update was a week ago, for
instance. Add a couple of mailing lists for announcing uploads and
the like, as well as a copy of the bug system somewhere, and
debian-contrib would be in business.
Of course, a much more interesting way to deal with the bandwidth
issue might be to try and create a distributed network using something
like gnutella---where people can keep around copies of those things
they use, and the load can be shared among numerous sites. Maybe down
the road the creation of a gnutella downloader for apt, etc. But for
the here-and-now, I think a small, well organized group of mirrors
might be doable.
So Debian finally gets to shed its last vestiges of non-free-ness
(which I agree with, even if I still have a need for some of that
non-free software), and people who want the non-free stuff get to keep
it in circulation. Just add another line to sources.list and away you