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snippets [was Re: begging the question]

Dagfinn Ilmari Mannsaker <ilmari@ilmari.org> writes:

> The problem is that Debian has made an explicit promise that it will
> remain 100% Pure Oats ...

We're getting into semantics here, to some extent.

The DFSG talks about software.  It is referring to software as the
term is usually understood in our field, as in phrases like "software
engineer", "software tools", and "software company", ie computer
programs and their penumbra of support files, documentation, examples,
etc.  A whole bunch of these, combined and integrated to form a
coherent operating system, is what Debian produces.

No one has shown any evidence that the interpretation you're drawing
(in which Debian should laboriously find and purge itself of things
like a README.why file in which an author quotes heart-rending email
from his sister who dies of cancer and explains how this motivated him
to study molecular biology) is widely held within Debian, sensible, or

Debian has, since day one, included such "snippets".  Many upstream
tarballs contain them.  The phrasing of almost all license boilerplate
(eg the GPL boilerplate) allows them.  They have never caused the
least bit of trouble or controversy.  They are causing controversy
now, it seems to me, only because people got so riled up about the
GFDL that they've confused the consensus "non-removable XXXs are not
allowed" with the much stronger "no XXXs are allowed."  The former is
the reason we all agree that the GFDL's invariant section clauses are
quite unacceptable.  The latter, in contrast, would involve a *change*
to the status quo.

I'm advocating calming down, not worrying about it, and certainly not
filing a zillion bug reports about every quoted email or revealingly
personal readme in the whole distribution.  And I'm advocation not
pretending that there is some kind of consensus that snippets are not
allowed, when no such consensus exists.

> ... Should we ignore the needs of users who have chosen Debian based
> on this promies (sic) because they are allergic to chocolate?

The chocolate sprinkles metaphor is showing its limitations here.
These are properties that snippets cannot have.  Including the README
described above does not "ignore the needs of our users."  Or at
least, if it does you need to show how.


(I'm including this to try and keep the discussion on-topic, so fewer
people will go off on strange irrelevant rants about xroach and such.)

*** A "snippet" is a file in a source tarball which:
***  - MERELY ACCOMPANIES and is not an integral part of the source
***  - is REMOVABLE
***  - is NON-FUNCTIONAL (not code, not documentation, not needed for build)
***  - is NON-TECHNICAL in nature
***  - is usually of historic, humorous, or prurient interest
***  - is usually NOT itself MODIFIABLE, eg "may redistribute verbatim"
***  - is very SMALL compared to the technical material it accompanies
*** (examples of such snippets are historic or humorous emails and
*** usenet posts and the like.)

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