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Re: Sun Java available from non-free

Adam Warner <lists@consulting.net.nz> writes:
> On Sun, 21 May 2006 20:20:09 -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:

>> It's an important document and certainly something that every developer
>> should read and endeavor to follow where it makes sense, but things go
>> into the Developer's Reference rather than Policy frequently precisely
>> *because* they don't make sense as global requirements and there are
>> reasons why one might not wish to follow them.

> You're correct. So can you give reasonable and legitimate reasons why
> "one might not wish to follow" the "you must" guidelines in this
> instance?

Two, actually.  One for the advantage of PR with the timing of the
release, which while it's a reason that I can see people not agreeing with
and it isn't important to me personally, I think it's a reasonable one.
Second, the people involved were certainly in a position to know whether
anyone else was working on this (given the people who cooperated on it),
so they may have concluded that an ITP would have served no useful
coordinating purpose.  (And, in fact, if they did conclude that, they
would appear to be correct -- I haven't seen anyone stepping forward upset
that their efforts to package Sun Java were stomped on.)

> Yet in this case the ITP would have served an extremely useful
> coordination purpose: letting interested parties participate. It would
> only have served no useful purpose if the intent was to ensure the
> packages went into non-free without dissent.

Do you think that this package would have ever gone into non-free without
dissent?  An ITP would have resulted in the exact same discussion we just
had, and if the ftp-masters had then approved it after concluding that the
arguments presented weren't strong enough, people would have been just as
upset if not more so.

You seem to be assuming that if they'd filed an ITP first, this discussion
would have changed their mind.  I don't see any reason to believe that.  I
don't see any reason to believe that this discussion raised any issues
that they'd not already thought about.  In that case, I'm not sure what
the point would have been, given that the people involved were the people
who were going to make the decision anyway.

Posting the ITP first would have indeed been the right move if license
evaluation were a democratic or consensus process.  My understanding is
that this is not how Debian works, whether one likes that or not.

> I'll tone down the rhetoric: Having FTP masters Anthony Towns (aka The
> Debian Project Leader), James Troup and Ryan Murray personally liable to
> defend and indemnify Sun for mistakes made in the Debian packaging and
> distribution of Sun Java could adversely affect the wider Debian
> community.

Almost everything the ftp-masters do could have an adverse affect on the
wider Debian community if they do it poorly.  That's why the position is
so important.

So far, I see a bunch of amateur legal theorizing (my own included) and a
lot of people worrying.  I am, so far, failing to detect falling fragments
of sky.  *little shrug*.  I do understand some of why you're upset, I
think, but it does seem like it's at least partially based on a mistaken
impression of who is responsible for doing license evaluation in non-free
and who they're obligated to consult with first.

Maybe I'm weird in this because of my personal background.  One of my
previous volunteer jobs was to run the Usenet newsgroup creation process
for the Big Eight hierarchies.  After doing that for a number of years, I
have to say that I've had the problems with public consensus processes
rubbed in my face fairly effectively a number of times.  With the Big
Eight, there's no formal organizational structure, no clear lines of
responsibility except at the top, and therefore not a lot of alternative
to endless discussions about absolutely everything.

One of the things that I like about Debian is that we instead give people
jobs, expect them to handle those jobs professionally and well, and then
leave them alone to do those jobs.  I don't second-guess other people's
packaging unless there's something egregiously wrong with it.  People
don't tell Sam and I how to package MIT Kerberos.  I assume you're going
to do your job, you assume I'm going to do my job, and unless we notice
bugs or something clearly breaks, we all move forward under the mutual
assumption that we're competent to handle our responsibilities.  The job
of ftp-master is rather more central and rather more visible than a lot of
them, but personally I'm quite happy to treat it the same way.

*I* think the license is murky, potentially problematic, and borderline
for non-free.  Looks like a hard call.  Good thing I don't have to make
it.  Many thanks to the people who do that work.  Now, I should really go
look at libpam-krb5 bugs, as those are my responsibility.

As with anything else, if one's decision is horribly bad or one isn't
doing one's job, it can be overturned by the project, through a number of
formal mechanisms.  In this case, that's a GR.  If you think this decision
is so egregiously bad that it warrants overturning the decision of the
people whose job it is to make those decisions, go for it.  Personally,
I'll vote against any such GR on the grounds that I don't see anything in
the license clearly and obviously bad enough to overturn the decision of
the people responsible for doing that job.

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

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