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Re: Discussion - non-free software removal

On Nov 10, John Goerzen wrote:
> First, the language does not alter the social contract at all.  Rather, we
> are simply issuing a new social contract.  This is no doubt a semantic
> quibble to some, but it was a point of contention last time.  Section 4.1,
> part 5, of the Debian constitution grants powers to "Developers by way of a
> general resolution or election to:
>   Issue nontechnical policy documents and statements.
>   These include documents describing the goals of the project, its
>   relationship with other free software entities, and nontechnical policies
>   such as the free software licence terms that Debian software must meet.
>   They may also include position statements about issues of the day.

You'll note that this power does not (explicitly) extend to repealing
documents describing the goals of the project, which this resolution
would, in fact, do.  Hence issuing a new social contract would have no
real effect, as the old social contract would remain in effect too.

So I'm afraid this solution does little to get around the text of the
constitution, unless we want to play the penumbras and emanations game
with the document (which we'd have to do anyway, since I see neither
"amend" nor "repeal" in that paragraph).  Frankly if we're going to go
this route, we should just amend the existing social contract since
either approach ignores the letter of the constitution.

My gut feeling is that non-free has outlived its usefulness, at least
as a repository for non-source-available software.  Perhaps a more
limited resolution targeting the removal of things we can't even build
would be the prudent step at this point; further, the social contract
would not need to be amended for that to happen, hence it would be an
easier sell.

Personally I'd hate to see useful things like the RFC and W3
documentation packages go away, and it's still helpful in an advocacy
role to be able to point people at non-free for qmail and pine, even
though I'll still say "Postfix" and "mutt"(*) at them too.


(*) Although, mutt isn't a very good substitute for pine unless you're
comfortable editing .muttrc files, and there isn't much evidence that
mutt upstream finds this to be a problem.
Chris Lawrence <cnlawren@phy.olemiss.edu> - http://www.lordsutch.com/chris/

Computer Systems Manager, Physics and Astronomy, Univ. of Mississippi
125B Lewis Hall - 662-915-5765

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