[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

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

On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 7:54 AM, Wouter Verhelst <wouter@debian.org> wrote:
> On Sun, Dec 28, 2008 at 09:55:36PM -0800, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
>> I wish we could have in the world of GNU/Linux one, just one,
>> please--just one--distribution which really took free software as of
>> cardinal importance.  Debian has promised to be that, while living up to
>> the promise only in fits and starts.  That's ok with me.  But I'm afraid
>> that if we stopped the promise, and simply decided it would be our goal,
>> the folks who are against the promise will be against the goal, and will
>> see this as permission to simply *never* work toward the goal, and to
>> obstruct others who do.
> I do not believe for a second that there is anyone in the Debian project
> who would *oppose* working toward a goal of free software. However, I
> also believe that pragmatism is a necessary requirement for a project as
> large as Debian.

I agree.  But I think the gap in understanding here is that there are
different interpretations of obstruct in play.  I think that the
hardcore idealists (excuse this extreme term, but it's the most
descriptive at hand) believe that the Social Contract produces some
sort of positive obligation to work as hard as possible to make Debian
as free as possible.  Under this interpretation of the Social
Contract, anything which is not in the name of promoting free software
would count as obstruction.

In contrast, it seems like the pragmatists (again, I think Romain
makes an excellent post--I will only use this terminology because it
seems common in the thread) see the Social Contract as promoting a
sort of dualism. [0] That is to say, the Social Contract says that we
should distribute free software and that we should serve our users.
It creates negative obligations not to promote non-free and not to
harm our users, but not a particular positive obligation in terms of
favoring one or the other. At times when these goals are
incommensurate, we must decide between them, instead of always
defaulting in favor of one or the other.  In other words, you only
obstruct free software if you actively work to include it in
Debian--and I don't think anyone is advocating this (no one wants to
fork the kernel to avoid upstream's decision to split out non-free

Ted Tso seems to point out the problem with second perspective--the
Social Contract seems to, in its present wording, deny us access to
this dualism.  It has very strong rhetoric in favor of free software,
with more pliant rhetoric in favor of our users. I think that it is
preferable if the Social Contract were revised to be less absolutist.
Debian needs such flexibility, in my opinion. Since I'm not a
developer, I don't feel qualified to really speak to such a change.


[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism

Daniel Moerner <dmoerner@gmail.com>

Reply to: