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Re: license requirements for a book to be in free section


mmmh, this should probably be on debian-project or something...

On Mon, Jan 28, 2002 at 06:36:37PM -0600, J.B. Nicholson-Owens wrote:
> Marcus Brinkmann wrote:
> > There have been several cases in the past where we include and the FSF
> > exclude, and none I am aware of where it is the other way round (although
> > the GFDL might become such a case).  Prominent example is the Artistic
> > License (older version), which we advertise as free software license,
> > while the FSF does not.  It has worked with the Perl people on a revised
> > Artistic License that resolves the issue.
> At the Q&A following his lecture in Chicago on Halloween, 2001, RMS
> mentioned a problem he had just found out about at the time--Debian's
> different (I believe RMS used the term "weaker" which may be more
> appropriate) standard of free software compelled the FSF to make their own
> version of -something-.

Yes, it is a serious problem for the FSF.  Now you could say "scrap the FSF,
this is Debian, and we do our own thing", but many GNU people are also
Debian maintainers, and the differences are small, and RMS wants to promote
Debian as _the_ GNU distribution (Debian GNU/Linux and Debian GNU/Hurd),
something that would be very beneficial for Debian.

These are good reasons to make it possible for the FSF to point to Debian as
the distribution of GNU in some way.  What this "some way" is, that is open
for debate.  It can be a special tag for packages, it can be some technical
means to make some things easily the default (like the apt sources.list not
mentioning the non-free and contrib sections).  It doesn't need to be the
default, it just should be easy for the FSF to make it the default on the
version of Debian they would ship and make available.  This is all very
vague, but I am not prepared to comment on the details here and now.  Some
of these issues have been discussed in the past.

I hesitate to consider the options the FSF has if this can't be done.
I believe it can be done, and I also believe that it is in the interest of
the majority.

> I understood the something to be a GNU Hurd
> distribution.  In other words, I came away with the impression the FSF would
> make their own GNU Hurd distribution to deliver a completely free software
> operating system according to FSF's definition of free software.  Did I
> misunderstand what RMS was talking about?  If not, is this FSF distribution
> still going forward?  

Actually, no.  The idea was always to make Debian GNU/Hurd the official GNU
Hurd distribution.  However, the GNU system is available with the kernel
being Linux, too, for good reasons.  And the issues I mentioned above are
the same for Debian GNU/Linux and Debian GNU/Hurd anyway.

To put a short answer to your questions:  There is no distribution of the
GNU/Hurd system in preperation beside Debian GNU/Hurd (if there is one, I
don't know about it and it is definitely not endorsed by the FSF).  Most of
the core developers in the Hurd are Debian members, and we have always said
that Debian GNU/Hurd is the one to go.  However, the FSF would certainly offer
and promote Debian GNU/Linux and Debian GNU/Hurd, not just one or the other,
if it is possible under the standard the FSF sets for itself.  OTOH, it could
offer neither if it these standards can not be met in some way.

One last note: nothing that Debian can do can ever prevent the FSF from
basing a distribution on Debian, that is not the point at all.  The question
is just if it is technically and politically feasible.  I think the current
situation is "it is not there yet, but it is close, and can happen".


`Rhubarb is no Egyptian god.' Debian http://www.debian.org brinkmd@debian.org
Marcus Brinkmann              GNU    http://www.gnu.org    marcus@gnu.org

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