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Distributing software written by hostile upstream developers

Hi folks,

There has been some discussion in the last couple of years about
whether or not Debian should distribute software that was written by
developers that we consider to be "hostile". I also ended up talking
to multiple people at DebConf about this issue and it was suggested
that we should have a proper project discussion on this front, maybe
leading to a GR to properly gauge the opinion of the project as a
whole. Well, I think it's time we did that.

What do we mean by "hostile"? Well, I think there are a few obvious

 * irrational/agressive behaviour towards Debian developers and users
   on mailing lists and elsewhere

 * (unsubstantiated or not) legal threats against DDs, Debian or our

 * shipping deliberately broken or booby-trapped software that will
   cause problems for our developers or users

 * total disagreement over the terms and rights of the licenses
   attached to the software

 * stated policies that the software must not be patched, packaged,
   distributed etc.

I won't pretend that this is a complete list of what we should
consider to be hostile, but I think it's a reasonable place to start.
People who have been following the Debian lists over the last few
years will probably quickly be able to think of examples of particular
developers for each of those points, but I don't see any point in
naming names here.

In terms of rationale, I think it's clear that we do *not* have to
package every piece of Free Software that is available to us. If we
can't have a sensible relationship with the upstream developers, then
I believe it would be better not to expose Debian and our users to the
problems that will likely arise from packaging and distributing their


Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK.                                steve@einval.com
  Armed with "Valor": "Centurion" represents quality of Discipline,
  Honor, Integrity and Loyalty. Now you don't have to be a Caesar to
  concord the digital world while feeling safe and proud.

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