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Re: General Resolution: Removing non-free

On Wed, Jun 07, 2000 at 04:59:31AM -0400, Branden Robinson wrote:

   [replying to the question about the only *serious* part]
> > It'll also sabotage the bug tracking system and a distributed package pool.

   The non-free software is currently reasonably consistent with main.  It
has Depends: that can be met.  It's installed the same way (no fragile
installer packages where technically and legally possible).  They don't try
to install over files that are owned by debian/main packages without a
Conflicts:.  Maintainers upload them in the same way.  Users report bugs on
them in the same way.
   Under a distributed package pool there would be one database worldwide.
The various archives (main, non-US, AU, JP, non-free, possibly even
Stomix,Corel,...) all register their packages in the database.  Conflicts in
contents and package names are even easier to detect and avoid.  If your
free library is being used by a non-free package the archive maintainers
will know not to delete it.  Distributions within an archive can choose or
choose not to avoid conflicts with packages outside that particular archive. 
   If this GR passes it won't be possible to maintain the necessary
database.  Users who choose to use any non-free software will experience a
greater number of artificial packaging problems.  Some of the blame will be
mistakenly placed on the non-free software, but some will fall rightly on
Debian for introducing this barrier.  [rightly and mistakenly here are used
with respect to technological choices, not moral or ethical choices]
   Right now Debian is the best distribution for a number of niche fields
where critical pieces of software are non-free. Does it matter whether the
niche is 1% or 95%?  Debian made a contract with *me* when I joined, that
I'd be able to package some of this necessary-to-me software and distribute
it via Debian channels to similar users.  Debian made no promises about the
details (separate mirror network I'd have to maintain myself, whatever). 
Other users in the same field also contribute packages, some free and some
non-free, and the whole community starts shifting to Debian.  Some members
of this community produce software, and being also within the Debian
community tend to make that software free.

   Under this proposed resolution though Debian no longer has the option (at
the donors and infrastructure-volunteers will) of allowing non-free software
to piggyback on any Debian infrastructure (BTS, package pool, mirror
archive, mailing lists, ...).  So if I'm inclined to contribute to
infrastructure I have to divide my time between Debian and a more permissive
project.  Is this good for Debian?
   Will this change result in more free software?  It will probably result
in fewer Debian users running non-free software, but that isn't the same
thing.  I don't see how it encourages free software development.  In those
niche fields mentioned above it will likely result in those developers
following their community to other friendlier operating system communities. 
They may leave the larger free software community altogether.

   If this proposal does come to a vote I'd like to see an option making the
Social Contract even more robust to changes.  It's rather deceptive to lure
people into your community and then change the nature of it.  Working
documents like the constitution and even DFSG may need updates to the
details over time, but at some point there has to be a relatively permanent
statement that can't be changed short of starting a different project.
I thought the Social Contract was this statement, it certainly reads like


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