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Re: Need for launchpad

Matt Zimmerman <mdz@canonical.com> writes:

> Do you mean to say that you have been discouraged from contributing to
> Ubuntu because the Launchpad source code is not available to you?

It's far broader than just Launchpad.  I am discouraged from contributing
to Ubuntu because Ubuntu is not *fully* committed to free software, by
which I mean building the entire infrastructure on free software and
making available all tools, or at least as much as practically possible,
as free software.

Debian isn't perfect at this.  There are portions of the Debian
infrastructure where the exact version that Debian is running are not
necessarily available.  However, these are generally considered within the
project to be anomolies and Debian *does* have a general committment to
free software for its infrastructure.

I'm not at all surprised that Ubuntu is drifting into closed-source
software, as this is a standard development path for a company based
around free software.  I'm not upset.  I'm simply not interested, and
consider that path to be entirely predictable.

> The response to this thread has been predictable, given the wording of
> the original post and the strong opinions that free software developers
> often hold regarding their toolset.  A similar argument would surely
> ensue if someone proposed that all Debian developers use Subversion for
> source code management, for example.  Manoj's analogy with human
> language, while dripping with sarcasm, is apt.

The whole web-based bit is mostly uninteresting to me.  There are various
ways of wrapping a command-line interface around a properly designed web
service, such as SOAP or XML-RPC.  The problem I have is that Launchpad
isn't free.  As such, it immediately becomes irrelevant to me as far as
Debian infrastructure is concerned.

Please note that I'm not picking on Ubuntu.  I had this exact same
discussion (even including hurt feelings and unnecessary drama) with the
buildd.net folks just a few weeks ago.

> As for licensing, some code has already been released as open source,
> and Canonical has made commitments to do more of the same in the future.

This is great, and I for one greatly appreciate any and all contributions
that Canonical makes back to the broader community.  For so long as
Canonical doesn't contribute *everything* (or at least nearly so; see the
above caveat) back to the broader community, I'm uninterested in working
*directly* on Canonical's distribution, but I'm certainly interested in
helping Canonical in return for Canonical's contributions to the general

In other words, my unwillingness to work *directly* on a distribution that
is backed even in part by a non-free infrastructure should not be taken to
imply that I'm unwilling to even cooperate with the people who are working
on it.  I'm quite happy to have my work for Debian used in Ubuntu, and I'm
quite happy to fix bugs, accept patches, and minimize divergence even if
it doesn't affect Debian directly (see Bug#342607 for a trivial instance,
where I also did the work of getting the patch and approved upstream).
You just won't see me become an Ubuntu developer unless Ubuntu as a whole
is committed to free software from the ground up.

And certainly, I would oppose blessing any closed-source toolset as part
of Debian's infrastructure, regardless of its origins.  Which is where I
entered this particular thread.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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