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Re: Debian UK

Stephen Frost <sfrost@snowman.net> wrote:

> 1) Holding money in the UK on behalf of Debian
> 2) Selling t-shirts and whatnot
> 3) The name issue with 'Debian-UK'
> 4) The 'opt-out' membership
> 5) The beer-bashes
> 6) The bank account
> For my part, I think #1, #3 and #6 go just fine together. 

Sure. Let's skip that bit.

> #2 and #5 work fine together also but shouldn't be done under
> something claiming close ties to Debian.  

Right, and there's some amount of contention on this point, which I
think is the main issue that we should be considering. I think part of
the problem is that "commercial" has connotations of "Red Hat like
organisation", which gives an immediate "no" reaction.

> Businesses are not inherently evil but they do have different priorities
> than Debian.  I don't follow debian-uk and it certainly doesn't sound
> like it's actually been resolved in an acceptable way regardless.

It's somewhat worth pointing out that Mark has something of a reputation
for inter-personal friction. The probability of the situation being
resolved to his satisfaction is small, but (to the absolute best of my
knowledge) he's the only UK-based developer to have raised any serious
objection to the way things have been handled so far.

> Personally, I think Debian/SPI should be
> selling things but I respect that the apparent majority disagrees with
> me on that.  Certainly if Debian/SPI isn't going to do it then
> Debian/SPI in other countries shouldn't either.  That's what
> Debian-UK comes across to me as- the UK branch of Debian.  It seems
> you'd like for it to be percieved that way as well.  It's not if it's
> selling things.

Simply using the argument "Debian's legal entity doesn't sell things,
therefore no closely associated entity should sell things either" isn't
very convincing - it's more worthwhile to look at /why/ SPI doesn't
engage in any commercial activities. The usual arguments seem to be:

a) It impairs donations (we've seen no sign at all of this happening in
the UK)

b) It impairs competition (the leading Linux CD manufacturers in the UK
supply us with the CDs that get sold, and certainly don't seem to be

c) It's Just Wrong (which is a bit difficult to argue against)

But, as is so often the case, it's hard to know why the current
situation has arisen. I guess the real question that we should be
dealing with is:

Is it inappropriate for an organisation that is closely linked to Debian
and which uses the Debian name to engage in any form of commercial
activity? Does the answer to this depend on whether it's for profit or

Matthew Garrett | mjg59-chiark.mail.debian.project@srcf.ucam.org

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