> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Goerzen [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Wednesday, June 07, 2000 8:08 PM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Clarifications
> There seems to be a lot of confusion in the list right now. Let me
> clarify a few points:
> 1. Debian GNU/Linux does not inlucde non-free and never has. My
> proposed General Resolution will have no effect on the distribution.
> This bears repeating. This GR will have NO EFFECT on the
> 2. Section 4.1 of the Constitution specifically gives us (the
> developers) the power to carry out this action.
There seems to be some disagreement on this point.
The once citation of Section 4.1 that I have seen made supporting this point
cited clause 4.1.5 (Issue nontechnical policy documents and statements).
Given that other parts of the consititution refers to "amending" documents,
I do not believe that 4.1.5 would give the Developers the power to amend
nontechnical policy documents and statements.
> 3. None of the promises originally made will be broken by it.
Then why the need to amend the Social Contract, if the promised made in it
won't be broken?
> 4. Debian was created with the cause of creating a free operating
> system. So says our Constitution. Distributing non-free software
> falls outside that definition, and the spirit of our organization.
The Debian Constitution -explicitly- denies setting the goals of the
Project, methods of
achieving them, or any policies not related to decision making. Relying on
Section 1 of the constitution to assert Project goals is a violation of
Besides, the Constitution doesn't attempt to define what a "free operating
system" is. That is left to the DSC and the DSFG.
The constitution does not govern Debian, only how Debian makes decisions.
> 5. Not distributing non-free software does not mean that non-free
> software cannot be easily used in Debian.
It all depends on how extensive "not distributing" means.
Without some more teeth than what you are trying to present here, your
proposal boils down to "host non-free on a physically different machine".
Can you answer me point-by-point:
A: Currently, bug reports for non-free software exist in the BTS. Will
this GR require that those bug reports be deleted? Will new bugs for
non-free software be allowed in the BTS? Will bugs for new non-free
software be allowed in the BTS? As far as I am aware, the BTS only allows
bugs for packages it knows about.
B: Currently, non-free software that is "supported" by Debian is held, by
Debian policy, to the same packaging standards as free software in Debian.
Will your proposal change that?
C: Currently, packages in the "contrib" distribution may depend on packages
in the "non-free" distribution. Contrib packages are also held to the same
packaging standards as Debian packages. The elimination of non-free would
break these packages because of dangling dependencies -- requiring their
elimination due to our existing policy about broken dependencies. How will
your GR prevent that, or will the elimination of non-free also cause the
elimination of contrib?
> 7. Item number 1 in the Social Contract is "Debian Will Remain 100%
> Free Software". This is right. It's what we're about. We're not
> about non-free.
> 8. This proposal does not break any promises or goals laid out in the
> Social Contract. It does only alter the mechanics by which they are
> carried out.
If that is the case, then why does it require a change in those promises
laid out in the Social Contract? Why does it need to be modified at all?
> 10. The Social Contract is not intended to be, nor can it be,
This is evidently in dispute. Several prominent developers have stated that
they do -not- want to see the Social Contract changed -- that it is, and
must be, immutable.
I for one do not want to see the Social Contract changed by any method that
is at -least- as restrictive as the method required by the Constitution to
amend it (general resolution, 3:1 vote). I feel that the Social Contract
(and DFSG) are more important to defining what Debian is, and what Debian
stands for, and -why- Debian is, than the Debian Constitution, and should
thus require -more- effort, a -stronger- consensus, to change.
I don't see -any- constitution authority to change the Social Contract. I
wouldn't mind seeing an amendment to the constitution granting Developers
that authority, as long as it meets the concerns in the above paragraph.
> 11. My proposal does not ban the use of BTS, mailinglists, or other
> Debian infrastructure -- short of actually distributing the software
> -- from being used for the continued maintenance of non-free software.
In other words, all you want to do is move non-free to a different machine?
Why does that require amending the Social Contract?
> John Goerzen
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