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Re: Debian Lover from Thailand

Klokk Prasy <klokk.p@gmail.com> writes:

> Dear Admin.,
>    I am the one who use the Debian as main OS on my desktop. I also love
> the ways debian sets up its community and social contracts.
> Until last week, I read the article writing about Debian is not free
> regarding to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and this believable
> comment is from Dr.Richard M. Stallman. He also suggest the reader to use
> another distro called "gNewSense". So that I just try it.
> I don't like it, because there has not been the community to support my
> learning and question compare to Debian.
>    So I write to you to please make sure to me that Debian can set up or
> be able to manipulate to get on the Free regarding to FSF.

As I understand Richard Stallman's objections, his concerns with Debian
are on three fronts:

1. Debian provides the contrib and non-free archives, which contain
   software which is not free, although that software is not an official
   part of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution.

2. Debian links to non-free software from its web pages.

3. Debian does not go quite as far as Stallman would go in such areas as
   removing drivers and binary blobs from the kernel, removing trademarked
   images, and some similar issues.  (Amusingly, Debian also goes much
   farther than Stallman would go in ensuring that all the documentation
   in Debian is free; Stallman and the FSF distribute and maintain
   non-free documentation for some of their free software by Debian's

For the first objection, this is unlikely to ever change, but the
individual Debian user can easily not install such software, even by
accident, by not listing "contrib non-free" in their apt configuration.
This seems like a reasonable tradeoff.

For the second objection, this is unlikely to ever change, but I also
don't think it's particularly important.

For the third objection, my impression is that Debian and the FSF are
actually coming closer in this area.  More questionable kernel stuff has
been stripped, Debian rebrands Firefox for trademark reasons, and so
forth.  I don't think that Debian meets the FSF's guidelines fully, but
then neither does the FSF meet Debian's guidelines fully, and I think this
is an ongoing iterative process.  I don't want to understate the
importance of this for people who care deeply about the political aspect
of free software, but I also think it's possible to overstate the effect
of minor differences and work that's not yet happened and miss the big
picture.  Debian and the FSF, apart from the documentation freeness issue,
agree in 99% of the cases.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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