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Re: Clarifications

[Moved to -project, follow-ups set, I hope]

On Sun, Jun 11, 2000 at 11:08:16AM +0100, Martin Keegan wrote:
> I had thought that the purpose of the `DFSG-free' discriminant was to
> establish which packages could be distributed without onerous
> restrictions. It now appears that this pragmatic distinction is
> retrospectively being reimposed onto the history of Debian as an
> ideological principle. (That is, it appears this way to someone who only
> heard of Debian in 1996 and only started following developments from
> 1998).

That is I fear going to far the other way.

Certainly the majority of vocal participants in this debate (although
whether they represent an actual majority of developers would need a
vote) have agreed that debian's goal to create a (very) good operating
system is, in the end, more important than the goal of creating a very
free one.

However, I don't think you can claim that the DFSG-free restriction
was only ever intended to be pragmatic (about what can go on CDs,
etc.). The distinction has always has ideological roots --- there's
plenty of stuff in non-free which we can /pragmatically/ distribute,
which isn't DFSG compliant.

If the whole distinction which about simply which packages could be
distributed, then the DFSG would be much shorter, and would simply
read 'Packages which can, according to their licenses, be freely
distributed in modified versions without fee'.

So, the DFSG outlines some ideals, about what makes 'free' software in
our opinion.  Certainly there are both ideological and practical
reasons to prefer DFSG-free software.

What this debate is about is where this compromise stands --- the
relative importance of producing a good distribution over a free one.


Jules Bean                          |        Any sufficiently advanced 
jules@{debian.org,jellybean.co.uk}  |  technology is indistinguishable
jmlb2@hermes.cam.ac.uk              |               from a perl script

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