ITP (really ITrP): bigbrother
With the permission of Stephane Bortzmeyer, the current maintainer,
I am going to repackage bigbrother (aka Big Brother) with a more current
The version in potato (and woody) is 1.09c, the current version is 1.4h.
Doesn't seem like much, but it's a huge difference, with many many many
changes, at least a good years' worth (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4) . Outstanding
bugreports exist that are over a year old, and most if not all are due to
having such a old and broken version packaged. The current package
doesn't work on correctly on install either (according to one bugreport)
The license is distinctly non-free , but all source code is available,
the support mailing list is one of the best I've ever seen, a number of
extra scripts have been written by many people, and it's very competitive
with commercial tools like OpenView and other monitoring software.
The authors are not interested in changing the license for many reasons,
even though GPL/etc often are asked by people. They have good reasons for
leaving it as it is, so it's going to remain in non-free. There are free
(in the free software sense) alternatives, but none is as well developed
or supported as Big Brother is.
The authors have given Stephane a formal written permission to
distribute via Debian channels. They have already agreed to give me or
Debian the same permission again. If someone from legal (i'm not
crossposting this at this point though) has a suggestion as to a better
form for this permission, please let me know. Since it's in non-free, I
think permission is really the big issue (clause 3), not sales (clause 1)
Debian doesn't put non-free onto CD, right? (All of this might be moot
anyway, should non-free be removed)
I'm currently in the new maintainer queue, and waiting (and waiting).
Stephane will sponsor me, but is away for a month, so don't expect an
upload anytime soon. I'll put a working version of the package somewhere
else as soon as I get a chance to work on it. The RPM maintainer and I
are going to try to find some form of similarity, since to make a Debian
package (or well done RPM) requires some major remodeling of the layout.
BB is setup to mostly run from a single directory, but has
local config_files, web pages on the fly on more... so it's best done
differently for a proper Debian package. Stephane and I will work out the
best way to package it for a clean and proper Debian system.
For those wondering why I'm taking a non-free package, and not working on
one of the free alternatives: simply, BB works, and is pretty free in
practice, if not in license, and is very well supported (for free). I plan
on packaging many truly free things also, but having just installed a
fresh Debian system for a box at work, and discovering the ancient age of
bigbrother in the packages, I was aghast.
It is old packages like this that give Debian a bad name. Personally, I'd
recommend removing bigbrother from potato, rather than having an old
broken version floating around on it. One upstream version behind, fine,
even 2... but to be a year behind and still be in potato doesn't feel
right to me.
There aren't any release critical bugs against it, but maybe there should
be (??). Someone might want to take a long look at other similar packages
with _long_ standing bugs against them... is it in Debian's best interest
to ship with long standing but non-critical bugs that have been fixed in
an upstream version but not updated in Debian (for many reasons)
 current license from http://www.bb4.com
By downloading the source code to Big Brother for Unix or the Big Brother
Client for NT, you agree to abide by the following terms:
1. You may not sell Big Brother, nor sell any of the functionality it
provides. No part of the Big Brother system may be used as part of
any commercial product or service without having first obtained a
commercial licence from the MacLawran Group Inc.
2. The software, graphics and documentation which make up Big Brother
are Copyright (c) 1997-1999 The MacLawran Group Inc. Big Brother
is a trademark of the MacLawran Group Inc. You agree to respect
these rights and leave all notices intact. NT client code
Copyright (c) 1998-1999 Robert-Andre Croteau and The MacLawran
3. You agree not to redistribute the code without written permission
from the MacLawran Group Inc.
4. At least one link to the BB home site at http://bb4.com/ must be
available from the BB-generated status pages so that others may
obtain a copy of BB.
5. You understand that this software is provided as-is. The MacLawran
Group Inc. makes no claims towards its suitability for any purpose
and accepts absolutely no liability for any damages the software
may cause. Use at your own risk.
The MacLawran Group Inc.
Tel: +1 (514) 996-INET
 from 'copyright' in current package [trimmed]
Here is the clearance for Debian:
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 1998 13:47:16 -0500
From: Sean MacGuire <sean@MacLawran.CA>
To: Stephane Bortzmeyer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Grant of license for Big Brother redistribution
The MacLawran Group Inc grants Stephane Bortzmeyer
of Debian permission to repackage in Debian format
and redistribute via Debian channels the following
* Big Brother for Unix (source)
* Big Brother for Unix (Debian binary package)
Use of the above software must be in complience with
the Big Brother license, a copy of which may be found