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Re: non-free software

I am more than just a little amazed at parts of this thread...

The 'Official Debian' position is not only clear it is also the ONLY
rational possition given the terms of Debian's own license.

Encouraging CD producers to review the licenses in non-free and make
their own decisions is sane.

As far as 'preclassifying' the 'non-free' software goes, that is an
unbelieveably complex task.  The nature of the restrictions range from
"no commercial use" (?!) to "you may not use this software for anything
related to nuclear energy, or munitions, or ________ (fill in the

Debian as an organization does not try to interpret beyond the
determination of whether the license is DSFG or not (a sensible
approach).  IT IS TRUE that most of the non-free software is free of
licensing requirements for _personal_ use and therefore probably the
vast majority of Debian users are actually not restricted.  However,
inclusion of such software IN the Debian Official Distribution would
then impose restrictions on commercial users of Debian not present in
the DSFG.

As stated in a different way by others, Debian's position on 'non-free'
software is appropriate to the Debian DSFG, supportive of the users, and
I believe, still very respectful of those developers such as John
Bradley that have chosen to make their software effort 'free' for
non-commercial use only.

As to 'making non-free' CD distributions...  Well the CD producers are
free to do whatever they believe is proper for their distributions (and
be responsible for their decisions).  As Scott mentioned and I indicated
above, trying to figure out what you can and can not include can be a
less than enjoyable experience.

As far as King Lee's suggestions about how to move between #1 and #2,
again, how and what you are doing with the software affects how it can
be distributed (in many cases).

I also do not see Alex's point about Debian being so difficult to base a
commercial application upon.  Debian is more difficult in the sense that
a Debian configuration is not as well documented as other distributions
so you typical Slackware based book is not much help (true also of much
of the LDP work).

However, I think that if you were able to compare individual machines
and create 'deviation' measurements you would find that most 'bo' boxes
were the same in the 'way' that they are configured and that most 'hamm'
boxes were even more consistent.  Because there _is_ a strong drive
within Debian to achieve a consistent configuration mechanism that can
deal with all of the various needs that have been encountered, I believe
that it _IS_ Debian that will be the best distribution upon which to
base a commercial product.

      bleach@BellSouth.net  b.leach@Worldnet.att.net
           b.leach@usa.net  LinuxPC@Hotmail.com
from a 1996 Micro$loth ad campaign:
"The less you know about computers the more you want Micro$oft!"
         See!  They do get some things right!

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