Re: Honesty in Debian (was Re: Amendment to GR on GFDL, and the changes to the Social Contract
> 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
> > 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
> 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
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
*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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Make sure your vote will count.