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Re: Proposal for new fully free distro based on Debian

Quoting yogesh powar (2015-01-25 16:16:32)
> On 1/25/15, Jonas Smedegaard <dr@jones.dk> wrote:
>> Quoting yogesh powar (2015-01-25 12:11:08)
>>> 1. Why yet another new Libre Gnu Linux ?
>>> In Jan 2015, Indian Government [1] decided to move on a Made In 
>>> India Gnu/Linux operating system, which unfortunately is not a Free 
>>> Software [2]. Free Software means the users have the freedom to run, 
>>> copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.
>>> Hence there is a need of time to provide a fully Free alternative.
>>> Swaraj will be completely build by the community and for the 
>>> community.
>> To me the fact that Indian Government makes yet another fork is not 
>> an argument to make yet another fork. Seems above really only answers 
>> "why must it be Libre?" and I am curious what is your reason to make 
>> it a fork rather than improve Debian itself in the areas you find is 
>> weak currently for your needs.
>> My guesses are that a) you feel Debian is "too english oriented" and 
>> that b) you want the distribution tied to a *local* community rather 
>> than the international one of Debian.
> You are right with b. We want a fully free distro (just like 
> gnewsense) but with a made-in-india tag.

But gnewsense is a derivative of Ubuntu - as I understand it an answer 
to "Ubuntu is great, except for the non-free parts".  You derive from 
Debian - so you try to answer what? "Debian is great, except for...???"

Why is such "made in India" tag important to you?  Unless you do major 
refactoring like Ubuntu, it will arguably only really be "assembled in 
India" (which stirred a controversy for the Aakash tablet, I believe).

If your concern is (lack of) influence then that is the very essence of 
"free software": The _ability_ to fork at any time.  My question is: Why 
_actually_ fork now?  In what ways do you feel that Debian does not 
progress in the direction you like - and why do you feel those issues 
are better addressed by forking than by improving Debian?

>> Here is a concrete suggestion: Go ahead and launch Swaraj, but 
>> instead of forking most possible, fork the _least_ possible, and have 
>> as goal to get all of your works assimilated by Debian.  Why?  
>> Because then you keep your branding and concrete product but is not 
>> bogged down by the heavy(!) burden of maintaining dulpicated big 
>> infrastructure - you leave that to Debian.  And your users will gain 
>> *both* the many eyeballs of Debian *and* your passion for their 
>> special needs.
> I agree completely.
> In fact, if I am not wrong, debian without non-free and contrib would 
> satisfy the requirement of fully free OS. This plus some customization 
> related to different Indian languages support would get Swaraj.

It is not an issue of "right" versus "wrong, I believe, but instead 
*which* of the several "right"s you want.  See my FSF remarks below.

>> That style of development has a name: Debian Blend.  And the goal is
>> called a Debian Pure Blend¹:
>> https://wiki.debian.org/DebianPureBlends#Terminology
> Interesting.
> If (Debian Gnu/Linux - contrib - non-free + indic support 
> customization) falls into this development style then blend it will 
> be.

Question is not how far you derive from Debian, but your attitude: If 
vision is for your project to exist for eternity, then you are not a 
Debian Blend.  If vision is for Debian to adopt all improvements of your 
project so that your project becomes obsolete - and you want to 
collaborate with Debian towards that, then you are a Debian Blend.

Difference is if you consider yourself Debian-developers-taking-a-detour 
or Debian-consumers.  Consumers of Debian can be nice too - but 
obviously co-developers exploring detours are far greater :-)

>> What are your ideas more concretely? Do you expect to setup a compile 
>> farm and rebuild packages for your distro?  Will you make a subset of 
>> Debian or offer all but re-prioritize which parts are installed by 
>> default?  Do you expect to maintain parts unique to your distro?  
>> Will you redesign some structural parts (e.g. different bootloader or 
>> init system than Debian default, or perhaps hardcode Indic script 
>> support)?
> So far the stress is on hardcoded Indic script support.
[comments on unwanted tasks snipped]

Please tell more about what you want to do.

>> I am developing a tool for Blend-style development (i.e. for staying 
>> as close as possible to Debian while having room for some 
>> customization) called "Boxer".  I have already included tracking of 
>> all Indic languages for common desktop use 
>> (Xfce/GNOME/KDE+Iceweasel+Icedove).  I would love to collaborate with 
>> you, and make Boxer cover your needs for Swaraj!
> That would be terrific.


I recently summarized how one can try out Boxer here:

After cloning boxer-data you might notice that that dataset already 
contains classes like Desktop.email.icedove.locale.INDIA.

I have draft classes for e.g. fcitx and ucimf, but am not very familiar 
with configuring and using input handlers so will need your help there.

As you've already noticed I have joined your irc channel (why Freenode?  
Debian uses OFTC and I recommend you to do same to ease collaboration) 
but unfortunately was out all afternoon - came back 30 minutes after 
you'd left the channel again.  I will look forward to next time you'll 
be around there :-)

>> NB! Beware that your colored title at your website cause some 
>> characters to almost blend in with the background.  For practical 
>> reasons (looks like the title is "Sw aj" some search engines punish 
>> text colored similar to the background by ranking lower (because it 
>> may be attempts at gaming the ranking systems).
> Never stressed on that. Will note that.
> It matches the India national tricolor flag hence 'ar' from 'swaraj' 
> is white.
> Will find some way out.

Oh, national colors.  Why didn't I think of that.

One fix is to change background color of the web page e.g. to lightgrey.

>> ¹ Since goal is complete assimilation you will only find the term 
>> "Debian Pure Blend" mentioned among developers: When you have 
>> succeeded in having Debian cover _all_ your needs in the main Debian 
>> releases you have no need for your own product any longer and noone 
>> will call it "the Swaraj Pure Blend of Debian" but just "Debian".
> I think it would remain as a Blend (remaster/remix) but would not 
> become a pure blend if we stick to our core princle of fully free 
> software. Mainly because of reason mentioned at 
> http://www.gnu.org/distros/common-distros.html

Ahh, the varying definitions of "Free" by FSF and Debian.

As I understand it, Debian *is* considered fully free software by FSF - 
reason we do not get their blessing that we also develop and distribute 
contrib and non-free packages (using same infrastructure but *not* part 
of nor recommended anywhere in the Debian distribution).  You may indeed 
get the blessing of FSF even if taking Debian as-is just rebranded, and 
distributing from a host not also hosting non-free code.

Personally I find it sad that FSF in that way discourage optimal 
resource sharing for (in my opinion) no real gain.

 - Jonas

 * Jonas Smedegaard - idealist & Internet-arkitekt
 * Tlf.: +45 40843136  Website: http://dr.jones.dk/

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