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Re: Debian trademark [was: Debian GNU/w32, may ready to be started?]

On Mon, Dec 03, 2001 at 06:14:04PM -0500, Dale Scheetz wrote:

>> So I propose that anybody who likes goes back to support CYGWIN with
>> dpkg and APT support, but under a neutral name.

> I just don't get it. We support Windblows systems on several fronts in
> Debian GNU/Linux. We deliver samba, who's only function is to provide
> servers that Windblows recognizes. We deliver windows emulators so Linux
> users can run proprietary M$ software on their otherwise free systems.


I occasionally lend a hand to the Samba maintainer with that package,
and I have written bits and pieces of code for inclusion in Samba.  One
of my own packages is FreeTDS, a database client library for connecting
to MS SQL servers (and Sybase, also a proprietary database).

The difference is, this kind of software running on Linux helps
/supplant/ proprietary operating systems, for a net gain in freedom.
Porting Debian to Win32 serves to /enhance/ a proprietary operating
system; and it's an open question whether this actually results in a net
gain in freedom.

I'm aware there are /local/ gains in making cygwin available under
Win32, which is why I don't disagree with the idea of porting dpkg to
cygwin and basing a distribution on it; but I'm not confident that the
/global/ effect is a positive one, so I can't endorse putting this on
the same level with other Debian ports, or using the Debian name for it.

> How is this any different from Debian providing support for free software
> running on a proprietary OS? The provided software is free. Only the
> target OS isn't. The result is that folks who couldn't use free software
> before are now able to. Doesn't that "promote the use of free software"?

The first thing that comes to people's minds when they think of 
'Debian'[1] is "free operating system".  Many people believe there is
value in this connotation.  A port of Debian to win32 is /not/ a free
operating system, it's a collection of free software running on a
proprietary operating system.  Using the same "Debian" name for both
things would dilute this connotation.  Is that what we, as a community,
would want?

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

[1] After "group of idiosyncratic, cantankerous jerks", that is; but
hey, that's what makes us so loveable.

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