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Re: Main, contrib or non-free?

On Sat, Aug 10, 2002 at 06:51:03PM +0100, Peter Karlsson wrote:

> I have a question about a program that I am thinking about packaging:
> It is a transfer program? licened according to GPL, but comes with some
> program code that you download to the remote computer. That code is
> also GPL, but the program used to compile those sources is not DFSG
> free. The remote computer software is available in both source and
> binary forms in the packages.
> So, my question is, if I did package this, can I place it in main, or
> must it go into contrib? Or could I package the main program in main,
> and the remote computer routines in contrib? Or could I put those in
> main as well (remember, they are themselves GPLed), using the binary
> versions?

Refer to the Debian Policy Manual, section 2.1.2.

In addition, the packages in main

* must not require a package outside of main for *compilation* or execution
(thus, the package must not declare a "Depends", "Recommends", or
"Build-Depends" relationship on a non-main package)

(emphasis added)

If the program cannot be compiled using free tools, then it is not very
free.  The idea of free software is to allow anyone to use, modify and
redistribute the software for any purpose, and requiring proprietary
software for modification restricts that freedom.

> If I can't use the pre-compiled remote computer binaries, must the
> program used to generate them? be packaged? The legality of the modified
> version used is questionable, since the original license states that no
> modifications are allowed, and the author seems to have disappeared
> from the face of the planet, according to the comments in the modified
> version.

If the binary is an illegally modified version of software which does not
permit modification, then we certainly cannot use it for any purpose.

 - mdz

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