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

On Sat, Apr 16, 2005 at 05:54:08AM +0200, Adrian Bunk wrote:
> On Fri, Apr 15, 2005 at 10:35:36PM -0400, Glenn Maynard wrote:
> > You present some incredibly strange arguments: you're not arguing that the
> > gcc manual is Free, but instead, apparently, saying "we shouldn't move non-
> I'd personally consider the gcc manual being free.
> But I'm attacking another point in the chain:
> Is the effect of what you are doing really in the spirit behind it or 
> is it counter-productive?

Sorry, but you can't have it both ways.

If you think it is free, then try to convince people that it is so; if
you have sound arguments to that effect and are able to convince people
by those arguments, I'm sure the problem will solve itself.

If you choose not to do that, then the assumption is that you accept the
statement that the GFDL is not free. Thus, unless you have a good
argument as to why it should not be moved away from main, that is what
will happen. And I'm sorry to say so, but "it's useful to have it in
main" is not a very strong argument to that effect. It would be useful
to have Microsoft Internet Explorer in main, too -- would make it a bit
easier to look at websites created by braindead "webdesigners" -- but we
don't do that, for a very good reason.

> upgrades. If a system administrator has to choose between e.g. Gentoo 
> and Debian, the percentage of system administrators who understand or 
> want to understand the differences between the "free software" 
> definitions of the two projects will be negligible - the decision will 
> be based on technical reasons and personal preferences.

And such is their right. But that doesn't mean we should make the Debian
experience for those of our users who prefer to use only non-free
software, any harder.

> Even further many Debian installations are used as a basis for non-free 
> software - which is a configuration Debian has promised to support.

And so we do, both by providing a stable, working, computing environment
and by providing the non-free mirror archive network.

> As an example, 14 000 computers in the administration of my home town 
> will soon be based on Debian. This project will be a success for both 
> Linux. I doubt anyone will care how many percent of this solution will 
> be DFSG-free.

... and I doubt anyone will care how many percent of this solution will
have 'non-free' in /etc/apt/sources.list, too.

>   Why is $foo in non-free?
> Case 2: foo = some documentation
> Answer: Because the document contains a invariant section in which
>         the author says he dedicates this manual to his dead father.

Per the GFDL, dedications are not invariant sections and can indeed be
modified, so long as the "substance and tone" of the dedications are
preserved (GFDL section 4, point K).

A more realistic example would be

Answer: Because the document contains an invariant section on the
	author's opinion regarding the dangers of Software Patents in
	the European Union.

Something like that simply is not free. It might be true at the time the
piece is written; However, should the situation regarding Software
Patents in the European Union ever change, then there are three

* The author chooses to remove the Invariant Section. This would be the
  best option; however, the fact that many Free Software projects are
  community efforts, where such Invariant Sections might be written by
  many authors together suggests to me that this is not always possible
  (contact information of some of those authors might be lost, (one of)
  the author(s) might have passed away, ...).
* The Invariant Section is retained, and nothing is done about it. As a
  result, the documentation would contain a section that is (eventually,
  severely) out-of-date. This would not only look silly, it might also
  make people not familiar with the GFDL wonder whether the
  documentation itself is completely up-to-date.
* The Invariant Section is retained, but another Invariant Section
  containing a rebuttal is added to the document. This would a) look
  silly, and b) be a beginning of Invariant Section bloat, in which a
  document could consist of 10% Invariant Sections, 60% rebuttals to
  Invariant Sections, and 30% of actual, useful, documentation.
> In the first case you might have convinced a system administrator that 
> non-free software has serious disadvantages.
> In the second case you'll hear a loud laugher.

Only because the explanation wasn't good enough. If you explain that the
nVidia-drivers are in non-free because "you can't get the source",
without explaining why you would want that source in the first place,
and without explaining that this is Free as in Freedom, rather than Free
as in no cost, chances are high that you'll hear a loud laughter, too.

The amount of time between slipping on the peel and landing on the
pavement is precisely one bananosecond

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