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A User's View on Non-Free

I am not a Debian developer so I have no official vote on whether non-free should be removed from Debian or not.

I have been a very strong Debian supporter in the work sector and a user of Debian for about 2 years now. I've used Linux for over 6 years, tried most Linux distributions and have found Debian to be light years ahead in security and ease of maintenance.

You can count me as one of the many users who use Debian not because it's "the most free" Linux, but because it's the best Linux.

Removing non-free software as it is now would end my Debian use.

Blender, realplayer, xv, zip/unzip, JDK are all packages I use on a day to day basis.

Now I've heard some valid arguements.

Point 1:

>This resolution will do NOTHING to prevent users from downloading, using,
>compiling from source (if available), modifying, etc. non-free software.

The above is true, but being able to download(and more importantly, update) packages via apt is precisely the reason I use Debian in the first place.

If I need to hand-roll my own source packages(or worse, make my own debs) then why use Debian? I could just go back to Slackware. Or better yet, since 90% of the hand downloadable Linux packages on the internet are rpms it'd be easier to migrate to Mandrake or Redhat.

We don't need more users in the world using Redhat Linux.

Point 2:

> That's almost exactly what this proposal aims to do.  As it stands we pay a  
> contribute a significant portion of our resources to the upkeep of non-free  
> software

I've seen a strong undercurrent of concern over the last year on how Debian is growing.

We're now shipping 2 cds worth of software these days instead of 1, and future versions of Debian may even need more.

This is natural because Linux in general is growing. We have much more software available for Linux today than we did 2 years ago and that is a trend which will continue. The archive space and bandwidth needs to support all this software will be enourmous.

Debian has to adapt in some way. Pretending non-free software doesn't exist isn't the best way to handle the problem.

Should Debian be paying to distribute Quake 3 for Id Software?

Of course not.

Should Debian be focused on distributing only free software?

In a manner, yes. The monitary donations sent in to Debian are to support the free software movement. That money shouldn't be spent on upgrading bandwidth so I can download Civ 2 off of debian's archives.

But a system needs to be put into place that allows me to:

apt-get install civ2

and enter my key I purchased from the manufacturer.

It needs to work whether I'm running stable or unstable. It can't cause conflicts with libraries I've received from Debian proper.

Point 3:

>A false alternative.  What is wrong with downloading software, as debs,
>from some site on the site, using apt?

Yes, Loki software can have me put in a line under my sources.list for their main site and I can update/install from their ftp site.

This solution won't scale for shit.

ID will have their own Mesa-GL package on their apt-site which overwrites Debian main(because ID knows best), which conflicts with civ2 from Loki. Now blender won't work because my mesa package has been upgraded to a point beyond what it needs and there's a bug in blender that's yet to be fixed.

There's got to be a better way.

This is a technical problem, not a political one.

Keep it technical and we can work towards a solution.
Stay politcal and we'll only argue it.


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