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"Needs of users" vs. "Free software"

I started out quoting one particular post that caught my attention, but I
really don't want to pick on individuals.  Rather, I think it's more
constructive to take a step back and look at how the positions have become
so entirely polarized against each other as to make everyone look

Clearly, Debian has a commitment to both free software and the users.  But
the way it is being debated, it appears that the notion is going around
that the two are mutually exclusive.

Little exchanges like this smoulder everywhere, like brushfires ...

person a: "I support the GR."

person b: "I do not support the GR."

person a: "You don't care about free software!"

person b: "You don't care about the needs of the user!"

person a: "I'm going to quit the project if the GR does go through
          because the project no longer cares about its users!"

person b: "I'm going to quit the project if the GR doesn't go through
          because the project no longer cares about free software!"

This is silly.  Clearly there is an intersection between the needs of
users and free software that *overlaps* and that's the area where we
are trying to do our job.  If there are needs of our users that don't
involve free software, I don't see that we have any obligation to meet
them.  Conversely, if in the pursuit of building a free software distro
we are not meeting the needs of our users, we're clearly failing in
our mission.

Why is it so difficult for people to catch onto the concept of a Linux
distribution dedicated to meeting the needs of their users *by* providing
free software?  Isn't that what we're about?  I don't see how the presence
or absence of non-free in the archives has anything to do with either
whether free-software is being upheld *or* whether the needs of the user
are being upheld.  Clearly, "main" covers both of these points adequately.
The rage and furor over the disposition of "non-free" is now detracting
from what we *have* accomplished in "main".

I personally believe that if this is what keeping non-free in our archives
is going to do to the project, than we had better dump it, and fast. Unity
in the project is far more important than continuing to support non-free
as a "favor" to our users.  It is not worth it.  It does nothing now but
cause strife and division.  Each camp wants to portray the other either as
"religiously fanatic free-software zealots" or "morally bankrupt non-free
software lovers".  The whole issue has escalated from what should have
been a simple correction to remove ambiguity from our goals into a
full-scale nuclear war of words.  I don't know whether to laugh or cry. 

    nSLUG       http://www.nslug.ns.ca      synrg@sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca
    Debian      http://www.debian.org       synrg@debian.org
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