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Re: Discussion - non-free software removal



On Wed, Nov 13, 2002 at 10:48:16AM -0600, John Goerzen wrote:
> And I believe that doing this as soon as possible is best.  The longer we
> wait, the more difficult it will become, as more and more non-free software
> enters our archives.  

Surely you mean "the longer we wait, the easier it becomes, as less
and less non-free software remains in our archives" ? That seems to be
the case from what I've seen, and there certainly seem to be less show
stopper packages being presented than there were last time this came up.

You're in a good position to help that trend too, by offering your
non-free packages up for adoption, and asking for their removal from
the archive if no one responds.

> I believe that this is what we should do, and that it
> will be best for everyone if we stop delaying.

Heh. You might want to refrain from "It's for your own good" subtexts...

> Non-free could be maintained by people that are not regular Debian
> developers.  This can benefit us in several ways.  

It could hurt us too -- if someone joins the non-free archive group only,
we don't get any benefit from the experience they gain, and if they make
improvements to their infrastructure, we don't benefit from that, either.

> Second,
> people that are genuinely interested in the non-free software could maintain
> it, and could well do a better job of it than we are doing now.  (Ie,
> Netscape could put maintain a non-free .deb directly.)

They can do that now. They can even join Debian, and distribute it over
our mirror network as part of non-free. If people aren't genuinely
interested in maintaining non-free (or free) software in Debian, and
find themselves doing so, they should orphan the package and/or ask for
its removal.

> Finally, our
> obligation changes from one of "distributing non-free software, whether it
> works well or not" 

We're not obliged to distribute any software, free or non-free.

> Yet even if you disagree with me about the long-term benefits, there is
> still one important reason that we should not be distributing non-free
> software: because we should do what is *right*.  

You should note that some people believe the *right* thing to do is to do
whatever we can to make people's lives as easy as possible, and that it's
much easier for all concerned for Debian to distribute non-free software.
Debian's already a good compromise between the free software purist line
of thought -- that an OS should have nothing you can't freely hack on --
and the pragmatist philosophy -- an OS should have everything useful we
can put in it, as long as it's legal and doesn't cost us too much. The
separation is clear, so users can make their own choices. And it's all
done as a single project, so developers don't have to make the choice
at all.

> I believe in Free Software.  It is what makes Debian great.  And I believe
> that it will keep us great.  But we have to draw the line.  And I believe
> that the correct place to draw that line is at a different location today
> than it was when the Social Contract was drafted.

Do you really? What's changed since then, that's made you change your
mind?  Various non-free software has had replacements written, but there
were still things like netscape causing problems last time this came up,
so presumably that's not the issue.

What was different when the social contract was drafted that would have
had you voting against this proposal, had it been made at the time?

("Nothing -- I would have voted for this GR then too" and "Me" are
entirely valid and reasonable answers, but probably aren't particularly
persuasive for anyone else)

> A quick check of the Debian Project History at
> http://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/project-history/ shows how much has
> changed since the Social Contract was release in 1997.  Then, our current
> release was 1.3, which had 974 packages (up from 474 in 1.1).  Now, Debian
> 3.0 contains over 9000 packages -- ten times more.  

By my count, excluding non-US packages, the numbers look like this:

        total   main  contrib non-free   %main  %contrib %non-free
bo       1188    980    31      115       82.5    2.6       9.7
hamm     1852   1524   101      227       82.3    5.5      12.3
slink    2664   2269    97      298       85.2    3.6      11.2
potato   4305   3889   123      293       90.3    2.9       6.8
woody    8766   8291   203      272       94.6    2.3       3.1
---------------------------------------------------------------
sarge   10283   9734   257      292       94.7    2.5       2.8
sid     11168  10555   306      307       94.5    2.7       2.7

Before bo/hamm, non-free wasn't associated with any particular release,
and until potato (?), non-US wasn't separated into free and non-free
components.

I wonder why contrib seems to have caught up with non-free -- it always
used to be significantly smaller.

> The body of available
> Free Software in Debian has expanded dramatically, and the real need for
> non-free is not as strong as it once was.  Nevertheless, that hasn't stopped
> non-free from gaining support and packages.

Cheers,
aj

[0] The discrepencies are avifile-win32-plugin, avifile-xvid-plugin,
    lmbench and xmbase-grok.

-- 
Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

 ``If you don't do it now, you'll be one year older when you do.''

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