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

On Tue, Jan 29, 2002 at 02:39:28PM +0100, Marcus Brinkmann wrote:
> For example, we thought that some LDP documents are troublesome.
> Incidentially, the licenses of all LDP documents have been sorted out
> recently (Colin Watson was active at that), so this item seems to be
> resolved.

Not quite, following a discussion with the release manager - but it
certainly will be in the green and promised land after woody.

> 2. The external solution, this would mean that the FSF builds a distribution
> on top of Debian, which would really be mostly identical, with just a few
> changes.  For example, some packages might be removed from main for license
> reasons.  Some default configuration files might be changed to elide
> references to non-free.
> I have spent a bit of time (not enough) on the external solution, as I hoped
> that this would be the way of least resistance and maximum independence.
> It turns out that building such a distribution is not easy.  For example, I
> had the idea of a repository in the FSF network which contains the
> necessary changes to the Debian repository, and otherwise just references to
> the Debian mirrors.  But removing packages reliably seems to be impossible
> this way.  If somebody has ideas about this, let me know.

I'd say that the FSF ought to be building its own Packages file, which
shouldn't be *too* difficult, provided that some care is taken to avoid
packages suddenly losing dependencies. Perhaps it might be worth talking
to people like Progeny who have maintained slightly-forked versions of
Debian in the past.

> For example, just to remind everyone, RMS is not asking that Debian removes
> non-free and contrib.  However, he requires that someone installing the
> GNU system will not have the option to add those to the apt config offered
> to him.  So apt would be a good candidate to be replaced with a version of
> apt that contains a different sources.list configuration file, as one
> example (external solution).  Alternatively, Debian could have a hidden flag
> that could be triggered by the FSF that does the same thing without
> overriding apt or other packages (internal solution).

Sounds like this could be implemented with minor changes to base-config
and/or debootstrap.

It feels like most of the problems should be soluble using a Debian
mirror with exclusions (could be implemented with reverse-depends logic
from libapt-pkg feeding into the exclude list of a mirroring tool) plus
an FSF autobuilder that helps to maintain the necessary forked versions.
I confess that I've never personally done anything like this, though.

Colin Watson                                  [cjwatson@flatline.org.uk]

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