Forwarded one relevant reply from debian-users to debian-legal. By Andrei : ============================================== > What's your opinion ? A somewhat similar case: instant messenger clients. Not long ago some of the free (as in beer) instant messaging providers made incompatible changes to their protocols. It was a pain for users as most had to upgrade pidgin and a backport was not immediately available (imagine *days* without instant messaging, what a disaster :p ). Does this mean we should remove all clients accessing non-free services (or disable the respective option if the client can also use free (as in freedom) protocols)? IMVHO, as long as its code itself is free why not ship it? It would be a big dis service to the users and would not convince the providers to change their policies (we are still too few to count). Also, as far as I know it is not forbidden to reverse-engineer a communication protocol (assuming it is not public anyway), otherwise Samba would have been in trouble loooong ago. I think that making it easier for users to switch to free software (even partially, pidgin works fine also on Windows) helps more to spread the word about free software, than taking an extreme stance and just banish everything that might come in touch with non-freeness.  a lot of Firefox-on-Windows users I know actually have no idea that it is *also* free software, besides being gratis, but it is always a good example when they are ready to listen about it. Regarding your mention of the "man on deserted island" test: - all software depending on some central service would stop working anyway, even if the service was free (as in freedom) - the code of the client program could help to write a server program from scratch to communicate with fellow stranded people :D Kind regards, -- Andrei Popescu andreimpopescu /*AT*/ gmail.com ============================================== Well ... I was not aware about Pidgin case. IMO it just shows that Debian cannot support such software on an equal footing with true Free Software (such as IRC clients), where you have 'swappable' web service provider, as is the case with IRC. (this meets "man on deserted island" test) I'm not saying Pidgin is non-free, but it is dangerously close to that case, and 'contrib' seems to be more appropriate repository either for Pidgin-as-a-whole or for it's modules that have non-free web dependencies. -------- As "Joey Hess" pointed out there is also Web-Browser's case - they have so-called 'transparent' Google integration, but lack of Google availability service doesn't destroy the core functionality of the browser in question. Example: Years ago I have worked with FireFox in high-security environments, without Internet access at all, and the program was useful, so it probably passes the "man on deserted island" test - but this example needs more thought. Pidgin (or it's modules) would fail this test. The main difference is that for web browsers, such as FFox / Chrome - Google service is a non-core functionality, while for Pidgin - instant messaging is it's core functionality, that is being lost. On the day that FFox / Chrome will start *depending* on Google web service - they too will become second class packages and should be removed from 'main'. The reason why "man on deserted island" test was developed in first place is to solve border-line problems such as this, but this topic needs more though and more examples. Andrei - there will be no dis-service by putting "Pidgin" (or it's modules) into 'contrib' - as it will still be accessible by Debian users. It is a warning note though - for people that do care about freedom and independence. Debian Repository Archive Areas Definitions: http://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/ch-archive.html#s-sections contrib area: "The contrib archive area contains supplemental packages intended to work with the Debian distribution, but which require software outside of the distribution to either build or function." This definition does not say 'non-free web services' - but points in such direction. I hope that both my "FFox" and Andrei's "Pidgin" examples are useful for our discussion. -- -Alexey Eromenko "Technologov"
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