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Re: Decision GFDL



On Wed, 2003-08-27 at 06:48, Wouter Vanden Hove wrote:
> Hi, 
> Where can I find the actual Debian-decision on the GNU Free
> Documentation License?

Wouter, it is my understanding that Debian interprets the Social
Contract and the Free Software Guidelines based upon consensus that
develops upon debian-legal. This process should not be confused with
100% agreement. Over time a position may become clear as it has in
relation to the GNU FDL.

You should not expect an "actual Debian-decision" unless the consensus
interpretation is challenged by proposing, seconding and voting upon a
General Resolution to change the Social Contract/Free Software
Guidelines.

Right now there are implementation issues related to removing GFDL
software from Debian and a claim that some members of the Free Software
Foundation has asked for more time to make the GFDL a free software
licence. Richard Stallman has recently stated on this list that one of
the major issues--invariance--is not negotiable. It is possible (but 
unlikely) that Stallman's dictates could be challenged within the Free
Software Foundation.

I also see a wider context to this issue. The Debian project is now a
very influential organisation and recent events indicate that Richard
Stallman would like to undermine its influence. Even though Richard
Stallman is in the process of becoming a Debian developer he recently
denigrated Debian:
<http://www.ofb.biz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=260>

RMS: When I recommend a GNU/Linux distribution, I choose based on
ethical considerations. Today I would recommend GNU/LinEx, the
distribution prepared by the government of Extremadura, because that's
the only installable distribution that consists entirely of free
software. If I knew of more than one such distribution, I would choose
between them based on practical considerations. 

TRB: What about Debian GNU/Linux, which by default does not install any
non-free software?

RMS: Non-free programs are not officially considered "part of Debian",
but Debian does distribute them. The Debian web site describes non-free
programs, and their ftp server distributes them. That's why we don't
have links to their site on www.gnu.org.

[For a while this was patently false:
<http://www.gnu.org/links/links.html>
It is truly extraordinary but the link to Debian GNU/Linux has been
removed! "Updated:  $Date: 2003/08/18 21:42:23 $ $Author: rms $". The
same version is now in Google's cache. Still around 100 links to go (but
I'm pretty sure there were a lot more when I last checked):
<http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Awww.gnu.org+%22debian.org%22>]

GNU/LinEx is better because it does not distribute or recommend those
programs.

TRB: How about distributions, such as Mandrake or Red Hat, that keep
non-free software out of their downloadable versions all together?

RMS: I would not rely on that, because I know they have not been very
careful in checking whether packages really are free. 

TRB: Does your desktop run GNU/Linux, and if so, do you run "GNU/LinEx"
or some other distribution?

RMS: I travel most of the time, so I don't have a desktop machine, only
a laptop. It runs Debian GNU/Linux, which was the best distribution in
terms of respecting freedom as of the time we set up the machine. (The
availability of GNU/LinEx is a recent development.) 

TRB: Has the Free Software Foundation ever considered publishing a
complete GNU/Linux distribution?

RMS: We sponsored the development of Debian GNU/Linux back in 1994. 

TRB: Especially with the selection of truly free distributions being
somewhat lacking, why did the Foundation get out of the distribution
development "business"?

RMS: My thinking was that if we made our own modified version of Debian
it would not get much usage, and that developing an entirely new
distribution would be a lot of work and only worth doing with the Hurd. 

...

=======================================================================

Please note that Debian's decision making about the GNU FDL is
definitely not based upon petty personality issues. The consensus
process literally took years. It is a quality, reasoned consensus that
respects Debian's social contract and the DFSG, and overturning it would
require an amendment to Debian's founding principles.

Regards,
Adam



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