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Re: Are Web-API packages need to be in the 'main' repo ?

On Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 10:17 AM, Christofer C. Bell wrote:
> > What happens if my application gets "smart", it looks first
> > for the proprietary dynamic link library; and if it isn't
> > there, it uses a web service wrapper for that library?  Would
> > this move an application from "contrib" to "free"?
> This software would not install on a Debian system as software
> can't install unless its dependencies are met. 

Let's say the Debian package for this only *suggests* the 
non-free library in its documentation or splash screen, it 
will after all work without the library since it can fallback 
on the proprietary web service.  In this way there isn't a 
technical installation dependency: only if you want it "faster".

Can my GPL software package go into "free" now?  How about 
if it downloads the dynamic link library at startup?

> Again, I think by this logic, the entirety of software 
> included in the Debian archive that is used to access a 
> network service could be labeled "contrib" or "non-free".  

Only if there isn't a free software implementation of 
that web service protocol.

> I think that's a serious mistake.  Debian has no control 
> over the operators of external SaaS providers. 

Isn't that the whole problem?  How can software be "free"
if the user who receives the work has absolutely no control
or right to actually use the software.

If you wish to look at this from a legal perspective, when
a client software program is written for the exclusive 
purpose of interfacing with a proprietary web service, it
effectively includes the "Terms of Service" of that service.

Hence, the GDrive adapter isn't just FLOSS licensed, it
implicitly includes Google GDrive Terms of Service; which 
by the way, includes a provision that they can remove the 
user's right to use the service at any time.

What about the 17 year old who can't use the Google+ client 
that is free software because he is too young?  They simply
canceled his account.   Ah, right, he can still fully use
the Google+ *CLIENT* application and enjoy the message 
about how he doesn't have an account... 

> To embed this -- oversight? -- into Debian policy is, in 
> my opinion, opening a Pandora's  box and a grave mistake.

One of the real and differentiating social purposes of 
Debian is to be a distribution of "Free" software.  It's 
not just a technical thing, it's about denying proprietary 
software equal footing in the distribution.  

I know you could argue that it's only the "Facebook Client"
and not "Facebook" itself that comes on Debian.  But, how
would a user know this or be able to make the distinction?
Why would someone use Diaspora if Facebook is just as free?

If a commercial web service wants to be available on GNU/Linux
systems, perhaps they should also provide an open protocol with 
an open source implementation?  Is that too much to ask?



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