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Re: confusion about non-free (Re: Bits from the Debian Eee PC team, summer 2008)

On Mon, Aug 04, 2008 at 10:22:16PM +0300, Yavor Doganov wrote:
> Robert Millan wrote:
> > 
> > > Lenny is Debian.  non-free is not part of Debian.  Check the
> > > Social Contract.
> > 
> > I wonder what is it that we do wrong to spread this confusion so
> > much that it affects even Debian developers themselves.
> You are a GNU (co-)maintainer -- at least you have a gnu.org account
> and I know you've been doing significant work (at least) on GNU GRUB.

Well, I'm not really a 'maintainer' in GNU terminology.  But let's skip
that as it's way off-topic ;-)

> Of course this analogy is ridiculuos if you don't consider eating meat
> ethically wrong.  I don't, for example -- I eat all kinds of meat, but
> I do consider non-free software unethical.  I expect that every user
> who cares about freedom does so.  This is precisely the problem --
> people who care about their freedom consider distributing non-free
> software as unethical, antisocial activity -- but most of the people
> who can vote in Debian don't think so.  Proprietary software is
> something entirely acceptable for them, and so it happens.  There is
> practically no difference between Debian and any other GNU/Linux
> distro that includes non-free software.  The only tiny difference is
> that Debian tries to separate the "free" from "non-free", which is
> something positive in general, but does not solve the grave problem.

You're preaching to the choir.  I wish the project didn't support non-free
at all, but we already voted on this in 2004 and the majority decided to
maintain the current state of things.

Which for good of bad, includes the current Social Contract, which says
non-free is not part of Debian.

> It is obvious (for me at least) that the Debian project's desire for
> popularity and more users (which is natural for all free software
> developers, but only a few resist the temptation) is the culprit.  It
> is inspiring to see non-free parts removed in distros like gNewSense,
> BLAG and Alexandre Oliva's recent effort.  It is depressing to see
> that such distros are downstream to Debian--Debian is where all
> primary development and technical innovations happen.  This is
> something that ought to be fixed, one way or another.

Which is why I think the GNU project is doing Debian a disservice by turning
their back on us and pretending we don't exist.  Creating "pure" branches
while the actual work and the actual community happens somewhere else is
not only a waste of time, it's counterproductive.

Robert Millan

  The DRM opt-in fallacy: "Your data belongs to us. We will decide when (and
  how) you may access your data; but nobody's threatening your freedom: we
  still allow you to remove your data and not access it at all."

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