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Re: Discussion - non-free software removal

On Wed, Nov 13, 2002 at 02:59:39PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> you're inclined to use "Debian" as short hand for that part of Debian
> that is the GNU/Linux distribution, please be willing to accept that
> other people find it convenient to use "Debian" as short hand for the
> parts of Debian listed above.

Done :-)

> I think you'll find everyone actually realises that.

Well, this whole discussion began because everyone did not actually realize

> Personally, I'd be much more impressed if you'd be willing to make
> your argument from the grounds that the Debian project would cease
> having anything to do with non-free software: not include it in the

That is what I would like most, yes.  However, there is something to be said
for using a scalpel to gradually separate things rather than an axe to sever
the leg in one fell swoop.  I believe that negative impact to Debian users
can be minimized by taking things one step at a time.

The other reason this proposal is less sweeping than the 2000 one is that
I'm addressing concerns people had.  It's a compromise.  It's not what I
really want to see, but it may be the closest to what I'd like to see that
can get passed.

> archive, not include packages that depend on it, and not provide our
> other infrastructure (bugs.d.o, lists.d.o, lintian.d.o, packages.d.o,
> etc). If you're doing something as a matter of principle, don't be
> wishy-washy about it.

I could go around wearing 12" platters on my head dressed as St. Ignucius,
but though it works well for RMS, I doubt that it would help me get a GR
passed :-)

Seriously, it is toned down.  Yes.  It's because I think that a more firm GR
would not find enough support to pass.

> As it is, there are so many "this doesn't imply..." and "we could..." that
> it's almost impossible to actually talk about what your GR will imply
> -- you have to set up a whole decision tree saying if this is the case,
> then this will suck, or if that is the case this other thing will suck,
> and these two things are mutually exclusive with the result that one
> thing will suck or another will, but not both...

I think that what I'm trying to say is this:

1. I have faith in the ability of the large numbers of non-free software
supporters to find a workable alternative by the time of our next release
that will not cause serious detriment to our users.

2. I believe that there are several possible options for that.  Each one has
its own pros and cons.  I've advanced two: putting more installers into
contrib, and setting up an archive outside of Debian.  Each option I've
advanced has its pros and cons, surely.  People have not hesitated to point
out the cons :-)  I suspect there are other options, too.

3. In the end, people will find something that works.  I don't want the GR
to dictate one particular solution or another.  That's not the place of a
GR.  This GR puts the capabilities to do that where it should be: with the
people that know the system and already make these sorts of decisions.

> We have worse problems with contrib, of course: take a look at the
> realplayer installer; it breaks when real move their image, it's a
> nuisance to maintain, etc. acroread is in the lucky situation where

Some of that could be improved, of course; the *BSDs manage it reasonably

> But seriously, someone's going to have to decide whether to keep contrib,
> whether to keep non-free packages supported by the BTS and so on. It would
> be massively helpful if this was included in the GR (and discussed first

That is true.

> if you're not sure which is the Right Thing), rather than lumping highly
> controversial policy decisions on groups whose main job is dealing with
> technical issues. Having two alternative resolutions that we can vote
> upon, one that definitely keeps contrib and one that definitely doesn't
> would be better than what you've proposed.

I think we can still find a way for someone to offer an amendment to the GR,
which we could then vote on in parallel with the main GR.  That should be no
problem.  The Constitution doesn't really let me set that up entirely myself
(what happens of both resolutions pass?), but with amendments, that surely
would be possible.

-- John

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