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handling Mozilla with kid gloves [was: GUADEC report]

On Sun, Jul 11, 2004 at 11:32:30PM -0400, David Nusinow wrote:
> I never meant to imply that debian-legal was actually doing this, since I don't
> have any examples (in no small part because I haven't gone looking for them)
> but rather that the post I replied to was demonstrating the kind of arrogance
> that debian-legal has been accused of. Sorry for being unclear. This isn't to
> say this sort of arrogance doesn't go on in -legal, just that I don't know one
> way or the other.

In my experience, you can find generous helpings of arrogance on most
Debian mailing lists.

> The acrimony stimulated by the questioning of the mozilla license this
> late in the sarge release process is no small matter. Getting rid of
> Netscape was a major accomplishment, and to essentially move backwards by
> kicking mozilla in to non-free is a scary thought, especially after we
> have worked for so long to get sarge out the door.

We're *still* working hard to get sarge out the door.  With hundreds of RC
bugs still open, the end does not appear to be in sight.

In any case, the attitude that "kicking Mozilla to non-free is a scary
thought" strikes me as ignorant and short-sighted.  The Mozilla Project
went open-source because they wanted to be part of the community, and our
response is to elevate them to godhood by refusing to study and question
their licensing decisions?    The Open Source and Free Software communities
are *all about* licensing, because by default in just about every country
that matters we cannot freely change the software we use and share our
improvements with our neighbor.

By adopting a milquetoast approach we do the Mozilla Project no favors.  How
are they to be a part of the FLOSS community if we keep them outside it?
Shall we look upon Mozilla as manna from heaven, or shall we expect them to
engage in the same rough-and-tumble that the rest of us deal with on a
daily basis?  RMS had the privilege of seeing two of *his* babies[1]
challenged to the point of forking.  Why, then, should we treat AOL Time
Warner with such delicacy that we dare not even offer them frank feedback
on their choice of license?

We do collectively understand that there are Free, full-featured graphical
browsers *other* than Netscape, right?

N.B., I'm not going to be very impressed with any argument along the lines
of "better non-free than KDE".

> Similar issues apply with the firmware and any other major piece of
> software you might care to bring up (I can't think of any others off the
> top of my head). Debian needs to release, and the GR vote reflects that
> this opinion is shared amongst the majority of DD's. I think the idea of
> questioning mozilla's license, among others, triggers the fear that we
> will never release because of the constant wrangingling over freeness.
> The fact that this sort of wrangling is done based on tests (Chinese
> Dissident, etc) which few are aware of makes the situation worse.

If you're saying debian-legal could do a lot better in the "internal
project diplomacy" department, I entirely agree.

IMO it would have helped if a Debian license arbitration body had been
formally delegated by the DPL, but as we all know, that didn't happen.

Permit me to sprinkle some Google juice.

Want to know more about debian-legal and what it does?


[1] GNU Emacs and GCC

G. Branden Robinson                |    As people do better, they start
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    voting like Republicans -- unless
branden@debian.org                 |    they have too much education and
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    vote Democratic.       -- Karl Rove

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