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

On Wed, 7 Jun 2000, Stephen R. Gore wrote:

> >  * 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
> accomplished.
> 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.

First, let me say in no uncertain words: "The Social Contract" and "The
Debian Free Software Guidelines" are the defining principles of "The
Debian Organization". The idea that these principles must, at some point
in time, change to meet changing conditions undermines those principles.

You ask, "Do we intend to support non-free forever...?" and I say: We
intend, by the Social Contract, to provide our users the freedom to use
non-free software, and we provide infrastructure to support the free use
of this "less-than free" software. We do so, not as a compromise with
evil, but as a practical matter of Freedom. 

I believe that Free Software is _better_ than proprietary code because it
is more complete. This doesn't make proprietary code evil.

The criterion for having a package in non-free (outside the license
considerations) is that there is a Debian developer who maintains it,
providing the energy and resources to produce the non-free .deb file.

Non-free will continue to exist as long as there is a Debian developer
willing to package content for it. That should be the only criterion,
otherwise we are unfairly and unnecessarily curtailing the freedom of our
own developers by divorcing Debian from non-free, not to mention the
freedom of access now provided by these archives and apt-get to our

I have always opposed "killing" non-free, every time this discussion has
come up. I will continue to do so because I _do_ support these clauses in
the Social Contract.

I will always oppose any changes to the Social Contract or the DFSG, as I
believe these documents to be "defining" documents for Debian and changing
them undermines the founding principles of this organization.

If you want an organization with slightly different principles, you have
the freedom to do so. Debian has already decided what its principles
are. The fact that you might not have had any input into the process, or
that you are one of the ones who opposed the clause during the decision
process and still want your own way, is not relevant.

We have resolution control via our Constitution, but I would suggest that
that "Constitutional" apparatus does not have the authority to modify The
Social Contract which predates it. 


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