[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Software in main that is throughly useless without non-free software

On Sat, May 01, 1999 at 01:04:48PM -0700, Chris Waters wrote:
> The availability of *any* free option to make the software work makes
> the software qualify for main.  But if *all* the options involve the
> use of non-free software, then it goes in contrib.

Thank you for spelling this out, it's exactly what I meant.

I said something on IRC that communicated a related idea.

Debian does not desire to *prevent* anyone from using non-free software or
services.  However, part of our committment to free software means
informing people that their choices may have been restriced *by* non-free

Therefore, we don't care that people use a free web browser, like lynx, to
visit web sites run by Microsoft IIS.  The individual is empowered to visit
whatever web sites he chooses, may improve his browser, and may pass it
along to this friends to they can browse the web as well.

We *do* care if, say, Apple comes up with some kind of streaming media
server and patents the codec.  They release the viewer/playback engine
under a free license, but the encoder/authoring tool is proprietary, and
furthermore they have a patent on the codec algorithm, so no one can even
try (legally) to reverse-engineer it and release a competing authoring tool
under the GPL.  Do we put the player into main?  This example is a bit less
clear than the ICQ example, but let's think about it.  Does this scenario
really do anything for free software?  You're allowed to eat, but not to
cook.  This shackles you to the restauranteurs.

Schemes like this are just another way to tie users to proprietary
interests, usually corporations.  It is not consonant with the principles
of free software.  We should think hard about these issues, and not just
rubber-stamp things into main.

G. Branden Robinson              |   "There is no gravity in space."
Debian GNU/Linux                 |   "Then how could astronauts walk around
branden@ecn.purdue.edu           |   on the Moon?"
cartoon.ecn.purdue.edu/~branden/ |   "Because they were wearing heavy boots."

Attachment: pgp9FogYDzHB7.pgp
Description: PGP signature

Reply to: