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Re: What do you win by moving things to non-free?

Apologies if I misedited your e-mail. I am not trying to parrot or
straw man what you said. It's just complicated and I am trying to make
my reply readable. If I messed something up, let me know and I'll
correct my error(s).

--- Glenn Maynard <glenn@zewt.org> wrote:
[Begin snippage...]
<<And that's fine.  If you need non-free stuff, install it from
non-free. That's why it exists; to allow packaging things that are
important to some people, but not free-- such as the gcc manual.>>

I agree that there is a good reason for non-free. I believe the
justification / reason / purpose of non-free is to earmark data
(software, etc.) which cannot be redistributed by CD vendors. Java is a
good example because Sun will not let just anybody hand out copies of
different parts of it.

The problem I think we all have is that this original purpose for
non-free does not seem to cover GFDL documentation, which is
redistributable and substantially free in many senses, which is clearly
not the case for the other examples you cite below:

<<The (exact!) same argument has been applied to lots of useful
software, such as Qmail, several important Java implementations,
BitKeeper, and (some years back) Netscape.  The argument is
consistently and resoundingly rejected for those works.  Why should it
be accepted for documentation?>>

Again, I think the argument (I am not saying I agree/disagree with it,
I'm just trying to see that it gets communicated) is that the
non-freeness of other things in non-free is different from the kinds of
non-freeness existant in GFDL-covered materials.

<<Being in non-free isn't a condemnation.  It means the contents are
not Free, and it's up to the user to decide whether to use it anyway.
Having GFDL documentation in main does not *make* it free. You inform
people that what they're using is not Free.  That's a fundamental
purpose of non-free: to be able to make some important but non-free
pieces available to users, while allowing users to know that some of
the stuff they're using is non-free, if they care.>>

I agree here. People need to be poked and prodded into avoiding things
that are non-free or it will be harder for the free software cause as a
whole to move ahead. RMS wrote about the idea of advancing the free
software cause by preventing people from deriving certain benefits from
leveraging free software to create or distribute encumbered software.
The Linux kernel also imposes some of these rules by not exporting
certain symbols to encumbered kernel modules.

Using non-free should be doable, but not to the extent it becomes a
knee-jerk reflex or default course of action. If we decide GFDL is not
free enough, then (this will sound dumb and reduntant to everyone but I
need to say it) we should not go about sneaking it into main for

<<Here's a tip: it's a *good thing* to teach people that they still
need non-free things, if it's the truth; it just might inspire people
to create free versions, or convince the FSF to free up their works.
That's a fundamental reason for separating non-free, and that's never

Agreed. If we decide it's encumbered, it's best for our cause overall
if we are providing motivation to create better (licensing-wise,
technical-wise, in any way we can) alternatives rather than just living
with it and letting it become a trap like Java is.

BTW, I shudder to think what could happen to all of these tools people
have written in Java if Sun and IBM decide to shut Java down someday or
encumber the licensing to the point of unusability, or to de-support an
older or rarer processor / OS configuration (oh wait, I have that
problem on my SPARC Linux system, sucks to be me).

Well anyhow, that's my $0.02 and my rant for today on this topic.

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