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Re: Discussion - non-free software removal

Anthony Towns wrote:
On Wed, Nov 13, 2002 at 08:47:57AM -0600, John Goerzen wrote:
If the non-free support is so weak that nobody cares enough to put a little
bit of work into it, that says something about how little we care about
non-free here, doesn't it?

It's less effort to maintain non-free as part of Debian, than separate
from it. Duplicating the archive, authentication, and maintenance of the
mirror network are all things that take time and that are demonstrably
unnecessary for any technical reason.

If people *are* going to do this, then your goal to have people who might
otherwise be working on free software waste less time on non-free software
isn't being achieved, and, in fact, quite the opposite is happening.

Likewise, it's generally more effort to maintain an installer package,
than not. See also the comments about managing contrib packages for
testing if non-free disappears.

I agree with AJ on this. It's less wasteful to use the existing infrastructure.

Dropping non-free and contrib, and putting them on some non-Debian site would either require recreating the Debian support system we already have, involve spending at least as much time maintaining the packages, or would inevitably lead to ambiguity about the status of software in the outside apt repositories.

I often sell Debian to other people based on the clear partitioning between main, contrib and non-free. I have sold it over RH because Debian makes clear distinctions, and doesn't include shareware in main. (IIRC, it used to install xv by default.) In the event that I need to use non-free software, I am well warned of it, and know to check the license.

Right now, I can be reasonably sure that Debian won't put anything into non-free or contrib that isn't legally redistributable, and all I have to do is scan the license for non-free packages, to make sure there's nothing I can't deal with there. If I go to someone's apt archive, I have to check _everything_. And I might miss some license combination problem with linking a GPL library or something.

One of the major reasons I started using Debian in the first place was that it helps me know where I stand with software licenses. Not that everything I installed was free, but that I know what is, and what is not.

I think that Debian's users would lose by this proposal, and would be less well informed of which packages are actually non-free. That is an important and useful service to our users, beyond providing the packages.


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