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Re: GNU/LinEx, Debian, and the GNU FDL

Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> wrote:

> I have never endorsed Debian, because ever since it became mature
> enough to be technically suitable, it had the problem of recommending
> and including non-free packages.  Of course, the other alternatives
> have generally been worse.  So I have not endorsed any GNU/Linux
> distribution in recent years, except, briefly, GNU/LinEx.

Thanks for clarifying that point.
>       I believe Debian is seriously interested in all that.  As far as I
>     can tell, though, Debian already produces a distribution that the FSF
>     should recommend, it's called Debian GNU/Linux and contains no
>     non-free software.
> While nominally Debian GNU/Linux does not include the non-free
> software, the non-free software is distributed from the same server.
> We cannot recommend one without effectively recommending the other.

That's a good point.

While `non-free' sounds very evil to my ears, it must be remembered that
a lot of packages in non-free would be free except for not allowing
commercial use.  I make no mistake: they are _not_ free.  But they also
are not non-free to the same degree that proprietary binary-only
software is.  That is a factor that might hinder a majority of Debian
developers agreeing to pass a resolution to get rid of the non-free
archive.  But it's certainly easier now than it was five years ago.

> Further, the distribution itself surely contains references to that
> server, so putting a copy on a different server would not solve the
> problem.
> The change that I asked Debian developers to make, some years ago, was
> to separate the two, such that we could refer people to Debian
> GNU/Linux without in the same act referring them also to the non-free
> software.  This would make it possible for us to refer the public to
> Debian GNU/Linux. 

>                    If in the future Debian GNU/Linux does not include
> the GNU manuals, this reference could not be wholeheartedly positive,
> but we could still make the reference.

Now that doesn't sound as good.  But since the manuals are
arch-independant, the FSF could easily setup a Debian-compatible archive
of its own.  I would use such a service.

Please understand that Debian distributes software and currently
considers the software's own manuals to be part of the software.
Therefore they must be free to the same standards, and invariant
sections are not free for software.  The GFDL also contains bugs wrt DRM
which hopefully can be fixed in a subsequent release.  But such bugs in
a license from SUN (for example) would also force us to declare it
non-DFSG-compliant. We can't make an exemption because the license comes
from the FSF.

Peter S. Galbraith, Debian Developer          <psg@debian.org>
GPG key 1024/D2A913A1 - 97CE 866F F579 96EE  6E68 8170 35FF 799E

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