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Source packages in main building contrib binary packages.

Le Wed, Aug 06, 2008 at 07:37:47PM -0700, Russ Allbery a écrit :
> I think it would be very surprising to have installation of a package from
> the main distribution area result in downloading non-free software from
> elsewhere, which is a common case for contrib packages.

Le Thu, Aug 07, 2008 at 01:07:11PM +1000, Ben Finney a écrit :
> The works in 'contrib' are free software. That's not enough for them
> to be in 'main', because 'main' is defined as more than just an
> arbitrary collection of free software. 'main' is the Debian operating
> system, which must, when installed, be useable as a whole without
> requiring non-free software on the system.

Hi again,

I think that if we were shipping a package whose description says
"Install this and you will have your 3D working" and which would
automatically download non-free software, we would indeed cheat our

On the other hand, if a package is described as "Free software to
download the proprietary driver foo and install it on your computer so
that the Debian operating system can make use of it", there would be no
surprise to our users.

Said differently, the difference is what the function of the package is:
if it is to provide the function of a downloaded non-free program, then
it would not be compatible with what Ben summarised (which by the way I
could not find written clearly in our fundation documents). If the
function of the package is to provide a loader, then the loader can work
with free software only and the Debian operating system is definitely
useable as a whole with it.

Some packages already follow this logic: metacafe-dl and others need to
interact with some websites whose source code is not available. Despite
this, they are in main.

The reason why I spend time in this thread is that I thought before that
it was not possible to make a contrib package from a source package in
main, but actually would be interested in this possibility. I maintain
`emboss', that provides 189 command-line utilities, one of which being a
wrapper to a non-free program, packaged in `clustalw'. I think that it
would be more elegant if I could move it into a 'emboss-contrib' package
that would recommend clustalw. But I am definitely not interested in
maintaining two branches of emboss in two different categories of our

Have a nice day.

Charles Plessy
Debian Med packaging team,
Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan

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