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

On Wed, Jun 07, 2000 at 17:12:16 +0800, Ian McKellar wrote:
> Free software and non-free software cannot be compared with respect to
> features, ease of use and functionality. All those are irrelevant. We
> have to look at them from an ethical and moral perspective. Free software
> gives us rights. Non-free software takes our rights away. This is the only
> valid comparison for us to make.

I read a lot of statements here, but I fail to see an argument. Perhaps you
could provide one?

Having worked with and on Debian GNU/Linux for over five years, I'm very
aware of the differences between free and non-free software. I strongly
prefer free software, both from a philosophical and a practical point of
view. In the reality of working in business though, I still need to use some
non-free software. I don't have the time or the money to teach our
consultants to use Gnumeric. They produce Excel sheets, only some of which I
can currently process using Gnumeric. In an ideal world, I'd take a couple
of days off to improve Gnumeric every time I encounter a missing feature. In
the real world, I swallow a bitter pill, start StarOffice, thank Sun for
saving me from touching the real MS software, curse them for not making
StarOffice free software, and hope someone else will contribute to
Gnumeric's improvement. 

My experience has allowed me to produce a .deb of StarOffice for internal
use, thus reducing the MS dependency of others. It has also made me aware of
how many people lack the experience necessary to deal with non-prepackaged
software. For these people, not having packages means not being able to use
a piece of software.

Dogmatic removal of non-free from Debian's mirrors and killing of the
associated infrastructure (use of the BTS, lists etc) would in my opinion be
a severe disservice to our users and would cause Debian not to appear on the
radar screen of many potential developers, which in the long run will be
detrimental to the plans for free software world domination.

POPULATION EXPLOSION  Unique in human experience, an event which happened 
yesterday but which everyone swears won't happen until tomorrow.  
    - The Hipcrime Vocab by Chad C. Mulligan 

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