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Re: Report from the Bug Squashing Party in Salzburg

On Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 02:50:21PM +0100, Lars Wirzenius wrote:
> As far as I understand, it is entirely true that Google's Hangout,
> or Skype, are easy to use. Of the free variants, I mainly have 
> experience with Mumble, which usually works, but requires tweaking
> and configuration to work well.

> The other aspect, however, is that Hangout and Skype are not free.
> It is not unacceptable for those developing Debian to use non-free
> software, or non-free services, but it gets problematic if it's
> the common case, or if it is advocated. We, as a project, value
> software freedom, and if we choose tools that are not free, we
> are not living up to our values as a project.

> To find out if a service like this is actually useful for distributed
> bug squashing, by all means, let's use the proprietary services. Then
> we can find or make the free software to do it with freedom.

I think this is a sensible, pragmatic approach.  The reality is that there's
all kinds of non-free software that remains an unavoidable part of our
lives, and the only payoff for trying to take a hard line against the use of
non-free software in the pursuit of developing free software is to make
ourselves less effective at achieving our goals.  Yes, Debian shouldn't
endorse non-free software solutions; but we also shouldn't engage in
polemics when individuals and groups within the Debian community want to use
non-free tools to improve Debian.  (Not that you're being polemic here, but
certainly some people in this thread have been.)

I'm bemused that people are this passionate about the non-freeness of Google
Hangouts in particular for a bug squashing party, because the freeness of
the software seems like the least of the problems with it.  Here, in no
particular order, are some reasons not to use Google Hangouts for a BSP:

 - it's non-free
 - you have to have a google account to connect; despite the fact that it's
   all supposed to be SIP on the backend, there's no support for connecting
   to a hangout unless you also have an account
 - you cannot securely download the software from the google website:  their
   download link always directs to an http url, which we should presume is
 - a hangout is limited to a maximum of 10 participants
 - the GTalk plugin is a CPU hog: you will not be able to effectively use
   your computer both for participating in a GTalk video conference, and for
   doing any actual bug squashing work, at the same time.

So yeah, Mumble is actually a much better *practical* choice for
coordinating a virtual BSP.

I would love to see an actual free and usable option for videoconferencing. 
If someone feels strongly enough about this to make it happen, that would be
awesome.  Doesn't look like that's the case today though.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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