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Re: Discussion - non-free software removal



Joey,

On Tue, Nov 12, 2002 at 04:00:42PM -0500, Joey Hess wrote:
> Simon Richter wrote:
> > iWhy does the mountain have to go to the prophet? I think it is time for
> > some Debian Free Documentation Guidelines, which actually know about the
> > special requirements for documentation

> I think it's interesting that even in the context of a thread on
> removing our mostly useless non-free section

It's useless for software, not for documentation. We have no other place
for standards documents that may not be distributed in modified form.
Basically, there are three options:

1. Keep non-free around, but remove all non-documentation packages
2. Grant exceptions for situations where it makes no sense to be strict
3. Remove the documentation packages

(1) changes the whole meaning of this thread. It makes some sort of
sense (non-free won't need to be autobuilt, and there would be no
compromise of ideals needed), yet it would need a different (and competing
to the current one) GR.

(2) is the option that lets us remove non-free without dropping the
packages. It means carefully formulating how the exceptions should look
like, but it ought to work.

(3) would be the worst option, as it is a decision against our users for
some benefit that's totally unclear to me. I mean, what is the point in
distributing modified standards documents? "Good idea, Judith. We shall
fight the oppressors for (Loretta's) right to have babies, brother. Sister.
Sorry."

Another problem is that this doesn't apply just to standards documents.
While reading through the old debian-legal posts concerning the issue
(Nov/Dec 2001), I've stumbled across several examples that were
discussed then, but where a solution was never reached. For example, the
gdb manual is supposedly under the FDL, but I couldn't find any text
stating this in the manual (so its legal status is unclear). The last
thing I've seen about this manual was in said discussion that it
contained invariant sections, where it is not clear whether that meets
the DFSG.

You see, it makes some sort of sense to have a set of guidelines
defining what is free documentation and what isn't. While RFCs may not
be modified, they can be extended and superseded by other RFCs. While
this isn't patching in the technical sense (which the DFSG permits in
case the author insists on pristine source), it is a similar concept and
should be honoured as such. What else is there to stop them from going
into main? The formatting, which is probably not the author's preferred
form of source code?

Documentation is different from program code, so I believe we should
also treat it differently. This doesn't mean looser.

   Simon

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