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Re: Lost Trust

On Tue, Jun 01, 2004 at 01:30:23PM -0800, D. Starner scribbled:
> Marek Habersack <grendel@debian.org> writes:
> > On Mon, May 31, 2004 at 08:26:10PM -0800, D. Starner scribbled:
> > > And you'd be willing to sacrifice the whole "free as beer" thing? I guess
> > > it's all in being flexible.
> >
> > Sacrifice what? 
> The whole "free as beer" thing. Because we could probably include AutoCad in
> the distribution; but it would mean no longer being able to distribute
> Debian for free. But, as you say,
They say non-free is not part of Debian. What's the problem then?

> > It's not a sacrifice, it's a compromise. 
> And compromising can lead you to a position where you've given away everything
> of value for trinkets, and your back is to the wall.
You're confusing compromise with conformism. Compromise leads to a solution,
conformism to a failure. As I said at the beginning of the thread - it would
be a compromise _until_ a worthy replacement is available. That implies not
waiting idly for something to happen but working towards providing a worthy
replacement. And as soon as the latter appears, AutoCAD vanishes from
Debian. Is such a compromise wrong?

> > Extremism is always
> > evil, no matter what. 
> A more extremist statement would be hard to find.
Geez, now we're playing games? Or what are you trying to prove? That I'm an
extremist? So be it, for your pleasure I can be an extremist.

> > How is "including non-free software until a free
> > replacement is read" sacrificing anything? 
> For one, there is no such thing as a free replacement. There is no program
> that can replace WordStar 2.0, that will run in its space, with its features
> and read its files perfectly.
I'm sorry, but I fail to understand how the two sentences above relate to
each other. If there is no free WordStar 2.0 replacement it's only because
nobody wrote it, right? Sit down and write it and there will be one.

> Secondly, this goes beyond firmware. I've been around Debian since Hamm, and
> there's been no question that non-free software does not go in Debian. Period.
> We've argued points about what exactly free is, and what software is, but
> never has that basic principle been doubt.
And by that principle, you think that removing the whole driver to get rid
of the embedded non-free firmware is good? Especially when there is patch
that removes the non-free part? I'm getting tired of that argument

> > TIsn't "freedom" being free
> > to chose _whatever_ you want? If you choose wrong, then you can be punished,
> > but you are still FREE to make that choice. 
> Not to argue the fine details of freedom, but how does Debian have anything 
> to do with that? If you want AutoCad or Netscape or the JDK on your system,
> you can install it without it being in Debian. And part of that Social Contract,
> that in its broad outlines hasn't been questioned since I've been in Debian,
> is that we support your ability to do so; we support the LSB, for example.
Supporting the hypothetical AutoCAD in Debian would be a great service to
the users (by the letter of the SC) - doing the work of packaging,
configuring and integrating with the Debian environment for them. Just
the same goes for JDK or Pine. Many times people asked me why there was no
Pine on the server they had the account on. It was hard for them to
understand why Pine is free but not free enough. For them it was free. And
not providing Pine (less) or JDK (more) can harm our user's ability to do
their work efficiently on the Debian system. Just because JDK or Pine are
not free enough. That's limiting of the user's freedom within the realm of
Debian. They are using Debian and looking at the SC they have the right to
expect that they will be aided/supported in using some software on the
system. Waving them away with "it's not free enough, go and install it
yourself. Debian is 100%" does not agree with the SC and doesn't really help

> > The FSF/GNU preachers more often
> > than not try to force THEIR notion of freedom on everybody else, denying the
> > right of the others to have their own views and opinions on that matter.
> And look at all the people who have been burned at the stake for disagreeing
> with them, and all the people they've executed.
Please, spare me such childish sarcasm. What I described above does more
harm than you probably think.

> The only way they "deny" anyone anything is by offering programs with strings
> on them _that only come into effect if you want to do things that would otherwise
> violate copyright law._ They aren't forcing anyone by talking.
Always seemed to me to be a strange notion of freedom. And what about the
original BSD license and its incompatibility with the GPL? There aren't many
licenses that can be more free and liberal than BSD. How about using that as
the definition of freedom in the software world?

> > So, let me ask you - if CodeWeavers developed
> > support for AutoCAD, then oferred Debian the right to distribute a special
> > edition of crossover office with it and somebody created debs to install
> > AutoCAD - would you agree to include it in Debian? I would.
> Again, I've been around Debian for 5 years, and the consensus has always
> been that those would go into contrib or nonfree. That's part of the things
> that separate Debian from other distributions.
You didn't answer my question.

> > It's quite a different matter, isn't it? It's the commercial world where
> > people compete for money - the free software movement should not have such a
> > problem, and yet...
> Why is it that simple? People in the commerical world often create programs because 
> they think they can do better than the current leader, and they don't think the
> current leader is going to improve in the direction they want. That's the same 
> reason that many people create a new program in the free software world. OpenOffice
> is not a lean mean word-processor; so Abiword is written.
As I pointed out, it doesn't exclude cooperation in many areas. And yet
there is no cooperation.

> > But as pointed out above, the fragmentation of
> > the commercial software is justified (and it's the company's problem if
> > their software doesn't bring profits), whereas it is not justified by any
> > economical reasons for the free software movement.
> Economical reasons aren't the end all and be all of everything. Try 
> psychological ones.
Please, spare me. Psychological? The fame thing? I see no other
psychological reasons. For me software is mostly about
technical/usability reasons and not some vague psychological ones.

> > > 800 megs and constantly swapping? Sure wouldn't run on my machine. That's
> > Well, so? Are you sure it cannot be improved?
> Yes, I am. The OpenOffice people are building a Microsoft Word-replacement,
> and have no interest in producing a smaller version. The only way to make
> a small OO would be to fork the project.
I assume you've spent countless hours analyzing the code of OO, then. I
didn't, so I can't comment and and rest my case here trusting your words.

> > The extent embraces common goals (say, an MS Word doc importer, or an excel
> > importer) and that's where there would be cooperation (for example, of
> > course). 
> And for all your complaints, that is exactly what they are doing. They _do_
> share importers.
Complaints? Did I complain about "800 megs and constantly swapping"? I
merely stated they don't cooperate. It wasn't a complaint, it was a

> > Nothing makes me think so. All I'm saying is that X11 is a huge chunk of
> > software with a relatively small group of developers who understand it and
> > contribute to it. If you slice the group to three smaller pieces, the
> > development of _each_ of the forks slows down, thus hurting the community.
> But it doesn't hurt the community, because there's no scenario where everyone
> would have stayed working on one. 
You're so sure of that, it must be truth then.

> > > But let's go farther. Look at all of the Linux distributions. Isn't Debian
> > > just a waste of valuable energy and human resources?
> > Of course not. You've just given the example of creative cooperation and
> > competition. 
> And so the fork that you are supporting is good. Isn't that convienent.
Huh? What fork? And where did I express my support or lack of it for any of
the X11 teams? Aren't you reading a bit too much between the lines? I
pointed out examples of the lack of cooperation on similar projects. Do they
cooperate? No, they don't. So, where did I fail?

> > Linux distros are focused on software _distribution_ mainly,
> > but they _all_ share the same software (in 99%), they contribute patches,
> > fix bugs - all together.
> And, gee, that's exactly what the three branches of X usually do.
Gee, indeed:

 About the X11R6.7.0 Release

 The X.Org repository is based on XFree86 4.4 RC2. Just before its 4.4
 release, XFree86 adopted a new license possibly incompatible with the GPL.
 For this reason, we have recreated its tree as closely as possible without
 importing files affected by the new license. The monolithic tree is being
 referred to as simply "XOrg".

 X11R6.7.0 contains substantial updates beyond XFree86 4.4RC2, as mentioned
 in the X11R6.7.0 release notes, including updated versions of Render, Xft,
 and fontconfig, and a greatly improved Cygwin/X port. 

> Debian has apt, dpkg, dselect, linda, lintian and thousands of install
> and removal scripts, all written only for Debian. That's a huge amount
> of code. Arguably, all the code shared just means that it's all the more
> pointless to fork so many tasks. 
Gosh, you aren't serious I hope. Are you seriously comparing few thousands
lines of code with millions of them in all the remaining software?

> > How does the complexity of GCC, the Linux and *BSD kernels, X11 relate to
> > that? They were all developed in time that is either equal or shorter to
> > their commercial counterparts.
> Not really. GCC is almost twenty years old. X is thirty, IIRC. X was and
> still is a commerical program in many ways.
X is not a program. It's a specification. Some implementations of it are
commercial. The concept is 30 years old, the code hardly so.

> > ArchiCAD, in its initial form, was developed by 5
> > people IIRC, in about 16 months (my memory might be failing, but I think it
> > was something like that). 
> 6 and 2/3 man-years? Most of the free software projects that have that
> type of man-power have funding, or are massively decentralizable, or
> much older than 16 months.
> The other problem is that kernels and compilers are programs written 
> by computer people for computer people, and everyone with a degree 
> in computers has studied the internals of both. They're easy to patch
> because people know how they should work, and they're easy to improve
> becuase the programmers know what is expected and desired in the 
> program. CAD programs don't have the personal interest to programmers,
> nor they as well-understood by the average programmer.
I would think that you'd easily find 5 people in the free software movement
interested in working on a free CAD program to replace AutoCAD.

> > > That's what we have non-free for. 
> > Which the extremists are opposing.
> And you, being an extremist yourself, point to their behavior to excuse
Oh, I forgot you know me so well... You've revealed the real truth about

> your own. There was a proposal for removing non-free, it was voted
> down by a large margin, it's now a moot point. 
Luckily. The common sense prevailed.

> > The world is changing, people have to adjust
> > to it - and being flexible doesn't mean betraying the ideals. 
> It depends on how you change the ideals. It must be done carefully
> and thoughtfully and justified to those who expect to know about the
> change.
I can only agree with that.

> > I wanted to
> > avoid that, but let me give you an example from the "real world". The
> > Catholic Church. 
> And most people never change thier ideals much. The reason why the Catholic
> Church has different ideals now is because the people with the old ideals
> died, and new ones, with slightly different ideals took over.
What a nice, simplistic view of the world. I envy you such clarity of

> > And sticking stiffly to today's (right) ideals is a straight
> > way to becoming a stiff extremist tomorrow 
> But you hold the conservative position; you're the one holding to
> yesterday's right ideals, and ignoring the fact that the world
> changed.
Wait, wait. I'm lost. So am I an extremist or a conservatist?

> And sometimes extremists are important and useful. Maybe they aren't
> ever going to be followed to the tittle, but what they say will be
> heard and considered and factored into what other people do and how
> the future is shaped. Blaze a path in the darkness, and even if the
> people don't follow in your footsteps, they know the darkness can be
> crossed.
I find no arguments to counter that...

> > > We have a sensible compromise; it's called non-free.
> > Again, which is actively being opposed to.
> I don't see it being active. The proposal was floated, it was shot down,
> the proposers have let it lie. This seems to be just a justifictation
> for you.

> > Ethics? What does GPL/DFSG have to do with ethics? Are you implying that I, by
> > releasing my software under MPL or BSD, am not ethical? 
> Where the hell did that come from? I never mentioned the *#%!^ GPL. The MPL
> and BSD are perfectly good DFSG license, and even if they weren't, it would
And yet they are incompatible with GPL which is the official license of the
_free software_ movement (as opposed to the open source movement). The
difference between 'free software' and 'open source' is outlined on the GNU
web site. That's where my statement above come from. I'm assuming you're
using the term 'free software' in the FSF sense. Maybe it's a wrong

> only be a breach of ethics if you promised something Free.
> > So, if I'm understanding you well - you are saying that there should NEVER
> > be changes to DFSG and the Social Contract (for instance) no matter what
> > happens? 
> No. I'm saying that the changes to the DFSG should be done with deliberation
> and openness, that we shouldn't silently change the rules because it's convienant
You should have said that straight away. I would say I agree and we'd be
done with it. Instead, you went on ranting. How is that for successful

> for us to do so. The DFSG and Social Contract are things that bind us together
> as a organization and their principles should be respected. 
I never said anything that counters that statement. You wrongly assumed me to
counter that. At no point I talked about "silently changing" rules, I didn't
even talk about changing them at all. I merely talked about the right to
interpret them in other ways that yours ('yours' in general sense). Gesh,
wasted time



p.s. if you want to reply to this mail, feel free, I will read it. But I
won't respond. It's a waste of time, the thread went way off topic and
astray already.

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