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Re: Discussion - non-free software removal

On Tue, Nov 12, 2002 at 10:39:09PM -0600, Manoj Srivastava wrote:

>  John> This GR, therefore, DOES NOT remove non-free from Debian.  It was never
>  John> there.
> 	I find this post strident, and disingenuous. You state that
>  non-free was never in Debian, a statement that is ambiguous, and thus
>  only partly true.

That comes straight from the first clause of our own Social Contract:

"Social Contract" with the Free Software Community

   1.  Debian Will Remain 100% Free Software 

I'll grant you that there is a possible ambiguity there.  I assumed the
terminology was generally understood.  As I told someone else, if you take
"Debian" to mean the entire Project or its archives, then we have been in
material breach of our Social Contract for years.  So that just doesn't make

> 	What you mean is that the non free software was never part of
>  the Debian distribution, that is, the OS that Debian, the project,
>  produces. True enough. But non-free software was provided, and
>  supported, by Debian the project, and that is precisely what you are
>  trying to take away.

I'm trying to take away what we are providing.  The GR does not take away
the support.

> 	I have no objection to you trying to do that; but please
>  do not try and put a spin on it. The debian project provides services
>  for non-free softrware, archive services, bug tracking, etc, and the
>  the users of this software shall be affected by this.

Yes, that is quite true; there will be an effect.  

>  John> My proposal will not remove your ability to use RealPlayer or any other
>  John> non-free software.
> 	it will, however, remove your ability to get angband as a
>  .deb, unless things change.

Or, if you start with a different set of assumptions, then it will not
remove your ability to get angband as a .deb unless things change.  Neither
one of us can assert that we know for certain that things will develop in a
certain way.

Remember too, that the lead time until users of the stable distribution will
see any difference will be governed by the timing of the next release --
some six months perhaps?

> 	I have heard statements that all the software to be evicted
>  from the Debian projects archives shall not disappear off the face of
>  the earth. True, again, as far as the statement goes: but the ease of
>  use in gathering the canonical list of plase to get the software
>  from is indeed going to be impacted.

It may, or may not, depending on what the non-free supporters come up with.

> 	You are glossing over the value of the services we provide our
>  users; after all, no one really needs a distribution to run Linux:
>  real men gather raw software and compile their own OS from bare
>  metal. Right.

*cough* FreeBSD *cough*

> 	We should have, as aj puts it, the intellectual honesty to
>  stand up and characterize what we are doing: in the name of long term
>  benefit for freedom of software, we are planning on taking away
>  services to software that does not meet our definition of free,
>  despite the impact it shall have.

That is true.  Though the GR does not mandate the removal of any services
save the archive.

> 	I have long been of the opinion that non-free shall dwindle
>  and wither away of its own accord.  The argument was easy to make

I don't think that it will.  Two years ago, people were opposed to removing
non-free because of Netscape.  Now there's opposition because of xpdf.  Two
years from now there will be something else, I'm sure; non-free software is
not going away.  We can give it a nice nudge, though.

>  wouldn't be that hard for me to give up and join the apathetic masses
>  on this issue; I just was irritated enough by tone of this message to
>  respond. 

I apologize for that; I think I let my irritation with being recently called
a "bigot" come through on that one.

-- John

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