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Re: Are online services also software for Debian's rules?

Miles Fidelman <mfidelman@meetinghouse.net> writes:

> Getting past all the obfuscatory count and counterpoint, there seem to
> be two clear questions on the table:

> 1.  Given a piece of FOSS client software, that has no purpose other
> than to interface with a proprietary back-end service (say a FOSS
> twitter GUI), should that be considered "free software" for the purposes
> of placement in main vs. contrib vs. non-free?  (Or alternatively, where
> should it reside?)

> 2.  Given a piece of FOSS client software that interfaces to, among
> other things, a proprietary back-end service (e.g., a multi-protocol
> chat interface that includes AIM and MS Messenger among the back-ends it
> supports), be placed in contrib or non-free, simply because its
> description mentions those services?

The point that I think may not yet be clear enough is that if the answer
to 2 is that such software should not be moved to contrib (as has
historically always been the case), the answer to 1 *also* has to be that
the software is not moved to contrib.  Because the way you get software of
type 2 is that it uses a variety of libraries of type 1, so if those
libraries are moved to contrib, the main software of type 2 would also
have to be moved to contrib.

Writing a library specifically to interact with a non-free service is
*good software engineering* (do one thing and do it well), and the correct
way to implement software of type 2.  So unless you want to see all
software of type 2 kicked out of Debian, at least libraries of type 1 also
need to be allowed in Debian.

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

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