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Re: Sun Java available from non-free

On Sun, 21 May 2006 23:25:28 -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:

> 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.

Later in the reply you state, "*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."

I don't see how Debian acting as Sun's public relations poodle on such a
murky, potentially problematic and borderline decision is reasonable.

> 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.)

The process would have included a license discussion.

>> 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.

Postulating that the same decision would be made if appropriate processes
had been followed does not excuse their short-circuiting. I suspect the
outcome would have been different because a public process would have
removed PR deadline pressure.

> 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.

The murky, potentially problematic and borderline decision was made under
the pressure of a public relations deadline. I see many reasons why a
different decision would have resulted from a leisurely examination of the

> 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.

My understanding is that debian-legal gives INPUT into whether a package
is suitable for main, contrib or non-free; *especially* in the case of a
brand new license.

>> 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.

Fair enough. I feel one or more of the ftp-masters did their job poorly.
They inadvertently put the interests of Sun before the wider community.

> 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.

May I take this moment to thank you for your work for Debian.

> 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.

This seems backwards. The status quo was subverted by hastily uploading
the packages to non-free. Now the decision has to be "so egregiously bad"
that you'll vote against it. Before the decision had to be in the
interests of Debian. Now it merely has to miss an "obviously bad enough"
threshold. If there is a General Resolution I hope you will consider
voting on the basis of what would have been the initially correct decision.

The last General Resolution simply declared the sky is yellow.

Anyway, best wishes for fixing those libpam-krb5 bugs.


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