My position, a little more precisely
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Herein is a copy of the social contract, with my annotations which
describe my position more completely. I grabbed it right off the web site
and had to add hard EOLs. Look at this as a reply to that... hence, the
lines of the social contract will be quoted with "> ".
> "Social Contract" with the Free Software Community
(WHO is our social contract with? It's RIGHT there. I agree to/with this.)
> 1.Debian Will Remain 100% Free Software
No disagreement here.
> We promise to keep the Debian GNU/Linux Distribution entirely free
> software. As there are many definitions of free software, we include
> the guidelines we use to determine if software is "free" below. We
> will support our users who develop and run non-free software on
> Debian, but we will never make the system depend on an item of
> non-free software.
This implies that nothing in base, nothing used to install debian and
nothing "required" or "essential" will ever be non-free. Agreed.
> 2.We Will Give Back to the Free Software Community
> When we write new components of the Debian system, we will license
> them as free software. We will make the best system we can, so that
> free software will be widely distributed and used. We will feed back
> bug-fixes, improvements, user requests, etc. to the "upstream" authors
> of software included in our system.
> 3.We Won't Hide Problems
> We will keep our entire bug-report database open for public view at
> all times. Reports that users file on-line will immediately become
> visible to others.
So I post a bug report, and I can in the same few seconds (no more than
say five) go to the web site and the report would be there. Agreed.
But is this the case?
> 4.Our Priorities are Our Users and Free Software
> We will be guided by the needs of our users and the free-software
> community. We will place their interests first in our priorities. We
> will support the needs of our users for operation in many different
> kinds of computing environment. We won't object to commercial software
> that is intended to run on Debian systems, and we'll allow others to
> create value-added distributions containing both Debian and commercial
> software, without any fee from us. To support these goals, we will
> provide an integrated system of high-quality, 100% free software, with
> no legal restrictions that would prevent these kinds of use.
What if a commercial venture, who gains rights to do this from this
clause and the GPL (true for many programs, as you know) does not pass
on the rights they gained? Is that allowed? (It is -not- allowed by
the GPL, if I understand what I am reading properly.)
> 5.Programs That Don't Meet Our Free-Software Standards
Here we run into some problems.
> We acknowledge that some of our users require the use of programs that
> don't conform to the Debian Free Software Guidelines.
> We have created
> "contrib" and "non-free" areas in our FTP archive for this
This is implementation. I contend it does not matter where the software
> The software in these directories is not part of the Debian
> although it has been configured for use with Debian.
This is objective fact.
> encourage CD manufacturers to read the licenses of software packages
> in these directories and determine if they can distribute that
> software on their CDs.
I also so encourage.
> Thus, although non-free software isn't a part
> of Debian, we support its use, and we provide infrastructure (such as
> our bug-tracking system and mailing lists) for non-free software
Here's the big problem... I may -use- non-free software, but I don't want
to give it anywhere near the same amount of time and effort as I would
a free alternative. My primary objection here is with the word "support",
because I do -not-, and do not want to ever be forced to by this phrase.
I suggest the following rewording:
Thus, although non-free software isn't a part of Debian, there are
some Debian maintainers who support its use. There are also some who
do not. It is -not- necessary for any particular debian maintainer to
agree to be supportive of non-free software in any way whatsoever.
Having said that, it -is- allowed of a debian developer to support
non-free software. This Social Contract does NOT specify what form
that support might take.
Also, unless I absolutely cannot do without some item of non-free
software, I won't be finding bugs in it nor reporting bugs I do find
by accident or mistake. Not if I was the last debian developer on the
planet. Either I choose to, or I don't have to.
Jim Lynch Finger for pgp key
as Laney College CIS admin: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.laney.edu/~jim/
as Debian developer: email@example.com http://www.debian.org/~jwl/
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