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Re: General Resolution: Removing non-free

On Sat, Jun 10, 2000 at 12:39:09AM +0000, Chuan-kai Lin wrote:
> > 100% agreed.  I don't want to have anyone babysit me and decide for me
> > which software I should use.  *I* want to decide if I use the non-free
> > software or not.  If the Debian project is going to do that for me I'll
> > stop using Debian.
> Couldn't have said it better myself.  We are all aware that Debian is
> all about free software, but what is free software all about?  Isn't it
> about the freedom?   Isn't it about choice?  Suppose I, as a Debian user,
> shall give up both because the developers made a political decision,
> then what the hell is all the free software in the distribution good for?

Normally I am the first person to object when people try to do things that
hide non-free software from me.  I'm not objecting here, yet I objected
strongly to a proposal to make non-free exist but never be used if you
didn't specifically know it was there and ask for it.

Let's jump off onto a tangent analogy a moment.  So-called polite society
considers things like porn mags to be bad/dirty (which in reality makes
for one hypocritical society, but that's another issue) and as a result,
you must be an adult to purchase them.  In fact, they cannot even be shown
in the stores!  You must either know the place carries them or you must
explicitly ask.  If you're in Germany you have a closer analogy - take
games such as Doom and Quake, same deal but they're software and _don't_
have a naked chick on the cover!

Anyway, this is precisely the way certain people such as RMS want non-free
software to be viewed.  (He may or may not deny that particular analogy, I
haven't bothered to ask him.  Despite our strong disagreements about
methods, I still do ask for his opinions on things which he's (naturally)
more than happy to provide..)

With all due respect, I consider such viewpoints to be an affront to my
freedom to choose whatever software I damned well please.  Let us hide
that which we don't like and hope nobody else asks for it?  I think not.
I said then that if Debian wanted to divorce non-free software it should
do so openly and without lame attempts to pretend that Debian is going to
continue to provide non-free software on its mirrors for people.

This GR does exactly that.  Based on comments from users and even
developers along the lines that Debian "is moving exactly the wrong
direction" and that we should "embrace companies that support Linux,
regardless of their licenses", I am now convinced that Debian MUST do
something.  Maybe it won't stop people from wanting to accept or support
non-free software, maybe it won't stop what I feel is a corruption of this
project by proprietary interests promising "better than microsoft - but
not that free software stuff no.."

When I start reading DEBIAN DEVELOPERS trying to convince people that
Debian should be more open to non-free software, not less, I seriously
have to ask what the fuck they are doing in this project since they
obviously don't even support its basic principles of free software as
defined by the DFSG.

> For me, the resolution is effectively aimed at crippling the non-free
> softwares on Debian by giving up central control over it, therefore
> creating a total chaos not unlike the Redhat contrib section.  Crippling
> things using ones technical control over the domain is unforgivable,
> especially not for political reasons.  This is no better than MSFT's
> breaking DR-DOS under Windows.  However noble you consider your goals
> to be, you do not force them into other people's throats.  I can live
> without non-free software, but I cannot live with that attitude.

Perhaps this isn't the best way to handle it.  In any event, I've lost my
faith in this resolution passing.  (The more messages I read about it, the
more firmly I am committed to voting for it when the time comes..)  aj had
a reasonable alternative solution which clearly makes non-free the
second-class citizen we claim it to be in the social contract without
divorcing ourselves of it all together.  It may become the best solution
all around.

> > /me too.  If non-free gets removed, my application can be removed from
> > the NM database as well.
> I would also like my application removed from the NM database suppose
> the resolution passes.  This message is signed with my GPG key, as
> presented in my application, for that effect.

Read the social contract.  Debian is committed to a 100% free software
distribution.  Regardless of this GR passing or not, if you have a problem
with the social contract then you don't belong in Debian.  That's not just
elitest superiority either---that's what Debian is about and it is the
standard by which we have in the past determined how well a person fits
into Debian's structure.  Moreso, it should be the standard by which we
judge how well we ourselves fit into the project.

I am not equating not liking this GR with not belonging in Debian.  You
can think this GR completely sucks for any number of perfectly valid
reasons (most common is that it changes the social contract..)  But if
your reasoning is or even includes that Debian should provide non-free
software (despite the social contract saying that we'll never do that (but
we will make it not terribly inconvenient for you to choose to use some
piece of non-free software if you wish)), they perhaps you SHOULD consider
whether or not you really want to be in the project after all.

I'm by no means a free software purist.  My non-free software includes
blender, netscape, xanim, all three versions of Quake, LZW-enabled GIF
software, and a few other things as well.  That is my choice and I accept
the responsibility for these choices.

That said, I am a supporter and developer of free software.  I use it
because it wherever practical because it's right and work to create more
free software when I have the opportunity for the same reason.  I believe
free software will win over non-free in the end because it is right and
people will hopefully come to realize that.  But I cannot stand by and
watch Debian be destroyed because too many people are more interested in
being successfully anti microsoft than successfully pro free software.

Joseph Carter <knghtbrd@debian.org>               GnuPG key 1024D/DCF9DAB3
Debian GNU/Linux (http://www.debian.org/)         20F6 2261 F185 7A3E 79FC
The QuakeForge Project (http://quakeforge.net/)   44F9 8FF7 D7A3 DCF9 DAB3

"I wonder if this is the first constitution in the history of mankind
where you have to calculate a square root to determine if a motion
passes.  :-)"
        -- Seen on Slashdot

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