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Re: General Resolution: Removing non-free

** On Jun 11, Jeff Licquia scribbled:

> > > *I* am not ready to make any guarantees.  Most of that isn't software
> > > I use.
> > That you don't use those packages doesn't make them unnecessary.
> It makes it unnecessary for me.
I see. So, if you don't use mutt, then you don't care that it would be
removed from the distribution? If you use, say, 70 packages, then you care
only about those 70? WHat if somebody else doesn't care about 35 out of your
70 packages and manages to persuade the others to remove them from the
distribution? What then?

> > From
> > non-free I use only Netscape, but it still doesn't make the software
> > unnecessary, does it?
> How necessary is it if you don't use it?
It is necessary for *someone* and that's a sufficient reason to keep it in
an Operating System that is supposed to serve every single person that cared
to install it.

> > Saying "I don't use it, so I don't give a damn" isn't
> > a way of thinking a person responsible, even partly, for such important
> > thing as an Operating System of any kind should present.
> However, that is precisely how Debian is run - for both free and
> non-free software.
Gosh, I must be stupid, because I put people before software.

> Availability of software in either place is dependent on a maintainer
> who cares about it enough to package and maintain it.  When a package
> is orphaned, no one runs around and threatens anyone else or crows
> about their moral duties; either it gets adopted and stays, or it
> atrophies until it gets too many bugs and is removed.
If it is really necessary and used then there will always be someone that
will maintain it, don't you think?

> > In the long run
> > what a developer uses or doesn't use has no importance whatsover to the user
> > of the operating system in question - distributions and operating systems
> > exist becouse of, and for their users. One might call a developer a "public
> > servant" in that respect - it's the audience, it's the users who demand
> > software, who have needs. The developer's responsibility lies in provinding
> > the users with what they need.
> This is getting awfully close again to that non-sequitur that Debian
> is "morally obligated" to provide non-free software, or that any one
> developer is so obligated.
No, Debian is obligated to provide *functional* software, that's it. The
software should be free, that's the ideal and a goal of this distribution,
but the project allows for non-free software which has no *functionally
equivalent* free software. I guess that's the whole reason non-free is
needed. As soon as nothing from non-free isn't also available as its free
counterpart, the non-free may cease to exist.

> It's true that, once a developer commits to maintaining a package,
> that they had better darn well maintain it.  But if no one will
> maintain, say, Netscape, the cries of the user community are
> irrelevant; it will not be maintained, and no one can force it to be
> so.
You just stated that Debian doesn't care about its users. Nice. Users'
voices are irrelevant. Nice.

> > Therefore I'll just repeat what I said before
> > - until we can replace all the non-free software with equally good and
> > functional, free counterparts, until that time we have *no* moral right of
> > taking it away from the users (and this includes full support for the
> > software in relation to the operating system we represent).
> We are not debating taking a single piece of software away from our
> users; rather, we are debating whether to stop giving it out.  Users
> who have already received a working copy will not be affected.
Until something changes in the package's dependencies - an older library it
depends on is removed (because no package needs it, of course) or another
package with a binary named the same as the one in the non-free package is
installed and overwrites the unsupported package. Such users *will* be

> If you buy a meal for a bum, are you now obligated to feed him for the
> rest of his life?
Hmm, are you trying to say that users who use non-free software are bums?
Well, then I'm a bum :)

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