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Re: Results for General Resolution: Lenny and resolving DFSG violations

On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 03:02:41PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> Using the word "software" as the basis for the divide might be too much:
> we've already done a lot of work restricting main to DFSG-free docs, and
> I think it makes sense to keep that. Having main be a functioning bunch
> of free stuff with a minimal and decreasing amount of random non-free
> stuff we still need to support it works well, it seems to me.

I'm not convinced that leaving important parts of Debian undocumented
over doctrinal disputes over licensing terms is actually in the best
interests of users, but I recognize that's a position that people of
good will can (and have) disagreed upon.  If it were up to me, I would
have Debian work towards a system where packages could be tagged to
allow enable common user preferences (we won't be able to make
everyone happy) be enforced by what packages they can see/install.

Some users are OK with GFDL documentation, others are not; some users
are OK with non-free firmware, other are not.  So why can't we tag
packages appropriately, so that this can be reflected in a
configuration file so that people who are passionate about some
particular issue can decide what tradeoffs they are willing to make
with respect to usability and/or documentation based on how
Fundamentalistic they want to be with regards to the "100% Free"

Separating packages into separate sections to support these sorts of
policy preferences is a hack, and with appropriate tagging, in the
long run we can allow users to be much more fined-grained about
expressing their preferences --- which would be in line with our goal
of being a Universal OS, I think.

> Back in the day, I tried writing a version of the SC that felt both
> inspiring and within the bounds of what we could actually meet. It looked
> like:

I like this a lot.  However, I do have a few nits...

>    We, the members of the Debian project, make the following pledge:
>    1. We will build a free operating system
>       We will create and provide an integrated system of free software
>       that anyone can use. We will make all our work publically available
>       as free software.

Given how literalistic some members of our community can be about
interpreting Foundation Documents, the second sentence is a little
worrying.  I can easily imagine a Free Software Fanatic using the
second sentance as an argument that we must stop distributing the
non-free section, since non-free is, by definition, not Free Software.
And it could easily be argued that the work that Debian Developers to
package non-free packages, which is after all distributed on the
Debian FTP servers and via Debian Mirrors, would fall under the scope
of "All our work".

I'm not sure what you were trying to state by the second sentence
above; one approach might be to simply strike it from the draft.  Or
were you trying to add the constraint that any work authored by DD's
on behalf of the Debian Project should be made available under a free
software license, even if in combination with other software being
packaged, the result is non-free?

>    2. We will build a superior operating system
>       We will collect and distribute the best software available, and
>       strive to continually improve it by making use of the best tools
>       and techniques available.

I'm worried about the first clause, because of the absolutist word
"best" in "best software available".  Again, some literally minded
DD's could view this as meaning that the best is the enemy of the
good, and use this as bludgeon to say that since we have package X, we
should not have packages Y or Z, because, X is the *best*.   

Again, I'm not sure what you intended to add by the first clause, so
my first reaction would be to strike it and make it shorter/simpler:

	We will strive to continually improve the software we collect
	and distribute by making use of the best tools and techniques

> I don't think the "community" clause is terribly well worded, but
> that's what you get when you make stuff up out of whole cloth rather
> than building on previous attempts.

It's not bad.  The one thing that I noted was "community" wasn't
terribly well defined.  Do we mean the user community?  The developer
community?  Upstream developers?  All of the above?  Adding an initial
phrase or sentence that affirmed that everyone who touches Debian in
some way (users, developers, upstream) are considered part of the
community --- and then follow it with your formulation pledging that
we will work to ensure that members of the community shall be treated
with respect --- would be the way I would go.

> Anyway, given the last proposal I made [0] went nowhere, unless people
> want to come up with their own proposals, or want to second the above as
> a draft proposal to be improved and voted on, I suspect nothing much will
> change, and we'll have this discussion again in a few years when squeeze
> is looking like releasing.

I would certainly be willing to second and support such a proposal,
should you decide that you are willing to make it as a formal proposal
for a GR.  Hopefully people will agree that having this discussion
over and over again is not productive, so we don't have to replay this
divisive set of arguments every two years....

							- Ted

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