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Re: Honesty in Debian (was Re: Amendment to GR on GFDL, and the changes to the Social Contract

glenn@zewt.org wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 11, 2006 at 01:46:14PM -0500, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
>Nobody is lying.  A "lie" is an untruth made with the intent to deceive.
OK, conceded.  Debian is being untruthful.  There, happier?  I don't 
particularly claim that there is an intent to deceive, but the deception is 
happening anyway.  I'm sure the developers don't intend to deceive anyone, 
but they are.

>I don't believe anyone has ever honestly felt misled by the Social Contract
>after finding out he couldn't reuse all of the license texts in Debian.
Am I evidence that you're wrong? :-)  

Of course, I only noticed that after I'd become sensitized by noticing the 
pile of non-free crap in 'emacs' (which is incidentally *still there*), and 
feeling extremely misled by the Social Contract about that.  Because until I 
taught myself about this stuff I assumed that license texts were public 
domain.  As many people still do.

>Is SC#3 deceptive, if the machine hosting bugs.d.o
>doesn't have perfect 24/7 uptime, or if control@bugs ever becomes temporarily
>backlogged?  Is SC#2 deceptive if a maintainer doesn't communicate with
>upstream because upstream explicitly declines to do so?
There is a fundamental difference between the case I am discussing and those 
cases.  In the cases you listed, these things happen *despite* Debian's best 
efforts.  The Social Contract is really a promise that Debian will make its 
best effort to live up to it.  Although that's not explicit, that's 
understood in *all* contracts -- if you're unable to fufill your side of a 
deal through no fault of your own, you're not normally obligated to.

In contrast, with the inclusion of non-free license texts, as with the 
inclusion of non-free essays, documentation, etc., Debian is not *trying* to 
live up to the words of the Social Contract.  Notice that I do not consider 
it dishonest where there is non-free material in 'main' because nobody 
noticed it.  I consider it dishonest when there is non-free material in 
'main' which all the developers know about, no effort is being made to remove 
or relicense it, and yet Debian is still advertising that "Debian will remain 
100% free."

> > The Social Contract used to say "Debian will remain 100% free software."
> > 
> > Someone recently said that he thought a valid intepretation of this was 
> > sotware in Debian will remain 100% free."  Well, that is *not* a valid
> > interpretation of the English language sentence "Debian will remain 100%
> > free software".
> Incidentally, I disagree.
Just 'cause you disagree doesn't mean I'm wrong....

> It's a perfectly valid interpretation. 
No.  It's a valid interpretation of *part* of it -- but it leaves out a 
*vital* part.

> It's 
> merely a wrong one, in that it's not Debian's --and it's only "wrong" when 
> "software" is interpreted to exclude documentation, etc.  Personally, I
> interpreted this as roughly "everything in Debian is software which is
> free".
Yes, this is a valid interpretation, unlike what I quoted above.  The vital 
part here which was missing above is "Everything in Debian is software".

> > > To clarify why this is not a valid interpretation: 
> Er, you followed this with three paragraphs that seemed like a reply to
> someone arguing "documentation isn't software, so it doesn't have to be
> free", but nobody was doing that.
Well, maybe not right there and right then, but people were effectively 
arguing that in the same thread (Marco D'Itri, Jerome Marant).

What I did was to construct sentences exactly parallel to "Debian will remain 
100% free software".  Then I demonstrated that in each case, that sentence 
must be interpreted to mean something parallel to "Debian will remain 
software", with no significant amount of non-software allowed.

There is a particular argument made by people who want to include 
"non-DFSG-free non-software" in Debian: that "the Social Contract used to 
allow it".

*This* is the argument I was rebutting.  The Social Contract said quite 
explicitly that Debian was all software, and all of it was free.

In reality, Debian used to allow "non-free non-programs" in Debian -- but it 
did so while issuing a Social Contract which said that Debian didn't allow 
them in.  That was untruthful on the part of Debian.

Debian is still allowing non-DFSG-free material in Debian *while claiming that 
it doesn't*, as it apparently has since the issuing of the Social Contract.  
That is the issue for me.

Nathanael Nerode  <neroden@twcny.rr.com>

Make sure your vote will count.

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