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Re: [PROPOSED] Change package relations policy to remove references to non-free from main

On Tue, Nov 30, 1999 at 10:11:28PM -0500, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> Julian Gilbey <J.D.Gilbey@qmw.ac.uk> writes:
> > I would encourage people to reread sections 4 and 5 of the social
> > contract.  Debian *acknowledges* the existence of non-free software,
> > and "We acknowledge that some of our users require the use of programs
> > that don't conform to the Debian Free Software Guidelines."  So are we
> > going to make life difficult for them by removing the suggests
> > information?
> I *acknowledge* all kinds of things that I'm very unhappy about.  I
> acknowledge that HIV kills lots of people.  That acknowledgement is
> the recognition of a fact, not an approval of that fact, and certainly
> not a decision to help the fact continue in reality.
> I like the change to the policy document in question.  A reasonable
> compromise though would be to allow Suggests of non-free packages only
> through a virtual package intermediary.  Then people can switch to a
> free alternative easily as soon as one is available, instead of
> (continuing!) to have important parts of Debian essentially dependent
> on (say) netscape.

When there is a free alternative, then the package should suggest the
free alternative or a virtual package.  Until that time, why are we
doing our users the injustice of not having the information available
in the appropriate place?  I thoroughly agree that we should be
writing free software replacements for those components, but until
such time as this has been done, we have committed to recognising the
fact that some of our users *will* use non-free software when there is
no free alternative available.  (And alternative may include the
requirement of matching all of the pre-existing features of the
non-free software.  See the ssh fiasco.)

Also "switching as soon as one is available" could mean two different
things: "when one is available in unstable", at which time all
packages suggesting the non-free version should change their suggests
fields, or "when one is available in stable", by which time all of the
upgraded packages will have the correct suggests fields.

Finally, since one never sees a Suggests: field in dselect except at
package installation time, this point is moot: if there is no free
package available to fulfill the virtual package suggestion, the user
will install the non-free one, and will never find out that there is a
free alternative available.  Unless we shove it down his throat, as we
did with ssh, and look at the problems that caused.



  Julian Gilbey, Dept of Maths, QMW, Univ. of London. J.D.Gilbey@qmw.ac.uk
        Debian GNU/Linux Developer,  see http://www.debian.org/~jdg
  Donate free food to the world's hungry: see http://www.thehungersite.com/

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