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Re: OSD && DFSG - different purposes

On Thu, 2003-03-06 at 17:34, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> The difference is that a guideline, as we use the term, is an
> *internal* tool.  We do not pretend that the guideline exhausts the
> meaning of free, but merely that it is a guideline.  A definition, as
> the OSD is used, is a promise "if you satisfy this, we will stamp your
> license 'free'". 

I don't want to quibble over semantics, but I don't think the meanings
are as you suggest. The difference in meaning between "guideline" and
"definition" would seem to be one of accuracy or rigorousness. For
Debian's purposes I would say that our guideline is used much more like
a definition. I can't see many conditions where we would waive *any* of
the guideline's premises. It's tests, and our demand of compliance, is
rigid and unforgiving.

Now, the question of internal or external application is a different
matter. Naturally, Debian doesn't want to have anyone mucking about in
our processes. We have developed our own flame-rich methods for building
agreement and we don't need outside authorities tampering with them.
However, at a fundamental level, the tests we apply and the values we
hold are intended to be the values of the community whose software we
publish. We may not be the absolute picture of that community's values
but our size, our internationality and our hands-on relationships with
the upstream maintainers make us, in my opinion, the most definitive
organization of that type in existence. People recognize this and look
to us for guidance... just as OSI looked to us for guidance when they
needed a definition for Free Software, erm I mean, Open Source. :)

I don't think we can hide our heads under the covers. We are not an
island. Debian's role in the world grows with each new user and each new
developer we add to our ranks. We have to acknowledge and build
agreement with other significant organizations so that our views and
values are represented in their world as well as ours. When those
organizations have views that make sense in our world (and some of OSI's
ideas do make sense) we should seek to integrate them. In those cases
where an organization's values conflict with ours and threaten our
well-being we should be prepared to fight them in an organized way.

Ean Schuessler                                      ean@brainfood.com
Brainfood, Inc.                              http://www.brainfood.com

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