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Re: General Resolution: Removing non-free, Draft 2

Anthony Towns wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 07, 2000 at 10:44:27AM -0500, Stephen R. Gore wrote:
> > So far, most of the pro arguments I've seen are calm discussion,
> > but many of the opposing arguments are highly inflammatory.  
> If there's a flamewar in response to a post, then the original message
> was inflammatory, by definition.
> But here's a calm summary anyway.
>  * Changing the social contract without consulting the affected parties
> of the contract (in this case, in particular, Debian's user community)
> is wrong. So as well as doing the GR, the proposers should also attempt
> to poll or gain the consensus of debian-user, or similar.

I agree that users' opinion of this is important.  Whether or not Debian
is a "popularity contest" or not (I believe not),  we have an implied
responsibility at this point.  I disagree with the implication that the
user community's viewpoint is paramount.  The Social Contract addresses
both users and the free software community.  The priorities are never set,
and indeed the wording isn't even consistent.

>  * Removing non-free will render contrib broken, useless or
> unmaintainable. Either we'll have broken dependencies for packages in
> contrib, or apt-get installing packages in contrib won't actually make
> the package usable even if it does at the moment, or much of our existing
> non-free software will have to be repackaged in the form of installers.

Yes, contrib as it is structured now would be broken.  It could be fixed.

>  * non-free software remains necessary to many of our users and many of
> our developers, so non-free packages will continue being maintained
> elsewhere without the benefits of the Debian infrastructure, needlessly
> using more of our developers' time and for a worse result. Similarly,
> our users will continue using non-free software, but it will be more
> difficult to find, and get support for.

This is my primary concern, and why I'm not sure this GR's time is yet at
hand.  The probable time frame for woody's release would give a free
alternatives to get up to speed, but there's no garauntee that would be

OTOH, I believe that this GR's time will come sooner or later, and we need
to determine in advance what constitutes the "right" time and conditions.
Do we intend to support non-free forever, even after the free alternatives
are equal, or even superior in functionality?  Should the project have any
goals in this regard?  This is why I think the debate is a good thing.


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