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Re: Discussion - non-free software removal



On Wed, Nov 13, 2002 at 02:46:01PM +1100, Craig Sanders wrote:
> On Tue, Nov 12, 2002 at 07:58:45PM -0600, John Goerzen wrote:
> > NON-FREE IS NOT IN DEBIAN NOW.
> > 
> > This GR, therefore, DOES NOT remove non-free from Debian.  It was
> > never there.
> 
> 
OK. I'll bite the trolling lure :)

It is difficult to tell people why we have the DFSG.  It is, for
example, difficult to explain why we don't distribute qmail or Pine
as binaries but rely on an installer to build them.  It will be
still more difficult to explain why we can't use Adobe's "free
reader".  Lots of people have problems with "Debian The Project"
and "Debian The Free Software Distribution" if you just say 
"Debian".

Solution: Keep the Social Contract much as it is.  Keep the
Debian infrastructure (BTS et. al) much as it is.  Keep the
need for interoperability with "main" and the qualifications
and identity verification for being a developer much as they
are BUT ...

For documentation: Create a small new section within Debian's
current "main".  Call it something like "invariant documentation"
to include RFC's / HOWTOS / Linux Gazette and other similar 
documentation.  This could also include as many or few of
the Linux Documentation Project documents as anyone
wishes to package.

Rationale: We can't change the licences on some documents.
Documents aren't necessarily source code.  They come under
many licences - but most allow verbatim reproduction and
distribution.  Good Netiquette suggests that you don't
modify someone else's document without talking to them first
so the sorts of documents I'm thinking of here are those that
have an authors copyright asserted / don't get changed by others
(unlike e.g. most docs in /usr/share/doc).
Add something to the Social Contract to point out that "docs
are different" - it seems daft to have "non-free HOWTO's", for
example and this may make the whole thing more sensible.

For "non-free" and, by extension, "contrib" (since it necessarily
depends on non-free software). ["Contrib" has a slightly difficult
connotation in any event - "contrib" code for e.g. Red Hat is, perhaps,
unofficial and may be of variable quality/utility]

Get SPI to set up a separate archive e.g. "debian-non-dfsg" and a 
separate small Project.  The Social Contract rationale of supporting
users still applies here.  Move non-free and contrib into here.
It may be worth adding a few subsections e.g. Licence / National /
Patent?? If, for example, code is currently non-free because of an
ambiguous/non-existent licence - put it into Licence.  If it can't
be distributed because of national laws e.g. crypto / violent games
- into Nationa land so on. [You may want a "Commercial" for WP8 / Adobe
/ Advasoft / Borland or other third party software which the third
parties themselves package - I would not, but _someone_ may
need .debs.]

An additional thought

There has been some talk of Debian-based distributions forking from
Debian as they customise.  It may be worth setting up a small section
saying "Distributions" under non-dfsg.  This would be for e.g.
Knoppix/SkoleLinux/LinEx/Pingoo/Gibraltar to act as additional mirrors.

Rationale: many of the distributions are more than 90% "stock Debian"
only the last few % represent local customisations.  If e.g. Skole
Linux have a whizz-bang installer, offer them ftp space and a script
to build their distribution by using the Debian base and the additional
non-modifiable pieces that are local distro specific.  Invite them
to contribute code back to the main Debian distribution.  There's
no point reinventing the wheel every six months and it may be that
the smaller distributions can learn from each other and enrich
the main Debian.

The amount of non-free software is significantly smaller than the
amount of free software so, although this will mean short term
pain for mirrors, it may be feasible.

Debian developers of non-free software currently would, of course,
not need to prove new identities and go through NM to upload
to non-dfsg - in due course, they may wish to sort out their
own Project mechanisms in co-operation with the Debian Project.

No matter what I do, I can't persuade one friend to give up Pine -
he points out that if Debian were to remove all non-free .deb sources
utterly, he would feel compelled to move to Mandrake or some such.
The above suggests a minimalist restructuring which would emphasise
why "non-free" was non-free in a constructive way.

Let the flame fest begin :)

Andy

[Please note the signature: this was generated by PGP (non-free) but
has now been modified to work with the free replacement, thus removing
the need for non-DFSG software - this changeover process within Debian
has happened _gradually_ and not as the result of massive flamewars {B-) ] 

Attachment: pgpz1c1Fg1y5g.pgp
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