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Re: definitions of free

Zenaan Harkness writes:

> Assumption: There will forever be different definitions of free.
> Question: what would it take to provide to the user the option to choose
> "FSF Free" as well as "DFSG Free" (and perhaps "OSI") as the set of
> packages they wish to install?

What would be the specific benefit to users of doing this?  There are
two significant and unavoidable costs to provide this feature: The
infrastructure support for it and the policy work for it.

The infrastructure support would be adding headers to all packages to
identify their type(s) of freeness, and updating tools to support
that.  Is it worth the effort to support this when other projects (X,
AMD64, etc) could use the manpower in ways that are clearly beneficial
to Debian's users?

The policy work involves the actual identification of freeness.
DFSG-free is a (I believe strict) subset of OSI-free, and probably a
superset of FSF-free.  Why "probably"?  See the disagreement over
packages like upstream Linux.  Debian can (and has) clarified the DFSG
to resolve ambiguity; since Debian defines the DFSG, it is the obvious
arbiter for interpretation of the DFSG.  Who would arbitrate for other
types of freeness?

I see both the infrastructure and policy issues as being significant
reasons to *not* identify packages as "FSF Free" or "OSI Free" or
anything except "DFSG Free" (as in main vs non-free).  It would take
some very big benefits to users to outweigh those cons.


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