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Re: Why the GR is not necessary

On Fri, 9 Jun 2000, Jim Lynch wrote:

> Hi,
> Please don't take this as a compromise, because I'm not compromising. 
> I'm suggesting we do this in -addition- to the GR.
> (remember my position: I do not agree to any reference to non-free in
> the social contract. none at all.)

Every member of Debian is required to agree with both The Social Contract
and the DFSG.

You would not be accepted if you went through the new-maintainer process
with that attitude.

Look, there are a lot of things about the way Debian works that I don't
like, but I'm willing to admit that it works well enough that my efforts
aren't squandered and I can feel like a contributer to the cause.

The Social Contract is just that: an agreement between the members of
Debian and our potential user base, detailing what we will provide. It is
a contract that I and most of the Developers agreed to by vote, making us
the Signators of the document along with BP. I consider this contract
binding, and every user that downloads Debian packages is "signing" on to
the contract.

A contract has two parties, each party must agree before the contract
may be changed. This resolution seeks to make changes in that agreement
(changes I do not agree with because they exclude, rather than include)
without any recognition that there is another interested party. From what
I have seen of "user" comments most are opposed. Just how many will go to
another distro isn't clear, and certainly doesn't concern many developers.
(although there is sure a lot of crowing whenever Debian wins a poll or
award, so we obviously care at some level)

I submit that The Social Contract can not be changed in this fashion.
While the Constitution provides means for creating new documentation about
Debian goals, it does not provide any means to change principles that were
agreed to before the Constitution even existed, and speaks not at all the
issue of contract re-negotiations.

I can appreciate that there are those of you who would wish for a more
rigid rule about the evil non-free, but I suggest that as long as Debian
remains Debian you will have to put up with that perceived inconvenience.

I will always vote a resounding NO when asked to make Debian more closed.
This proposal is squarely aimed at removing what I consider to be an
important principle of the Debian distribution. Inclusion of software with
"minor" distribution restrictions provides functionality that would
otherwise be missing. Warning the user that they should check the license
of non-free packages to see if the restrictions apply to their use is also
reasonable behavior.

The idea that this software is somehow morally reprehensible is pure FUD
and I for one am tired of hearing this dull tune. The idea that The Social
Contract and the DFSG are somehow unfinished and still need tweaking is
also FUD.

Any current members who disagree with the DFSG or The Social Contract as
loudly as I have heard some declare, would be summarily rejected from the
current new maintainer process. I suggest that if you really feel that
Debian, through its Social Contract and DFSG, is morally wrong, you should
re-evaluate your expectations as a Debian developer and possibly find some
other place to contribute to the free software community.

This is not the first time a group have attacked this clause. I regret
that it will probably not be the last. But what is most hippocritical is
that we require that new maintainers agree with both The Social Contract
and the DFSG at the same time some of us are struggling mightily to change
that very contract! So let's stop trying to describe this clause in the
contract as "morally bankrupt" and try to appreciate just what the clause
is for and why it _should_ be there. I suspect that is too much to ask.


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