Negative Summary of the Split Proposal
As I mentioned earlier I have written what I'm calling a negative summary
of the split proposal. It focuses on the arguments against the archive
split and does not attempt to provide any sort of balance with the
arguments for the archive split which I belive are aplt represented in the
It is intended that a summary like this will become part of the vote
itself so that developers can see a short summary of the basic arguments
without needing to follow the whole list.
Hopefully I got all of the major un-resolved negative points and hopefully
everything is accurate, it was done largely from memory so please let me
know if there is an error. I do ask that people not use this thread to
discuss the points themselves (they have already been discussed), please
change the subject title.
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This text is a negative response to the non-free split proposal currently
being deliberated by the Debian Project. It attempts to summarize the
concerns voiced by some developers. Only concerns that were left largely
unresolved by discussion are presented here as 'facts' and observations
about what other consequences the proposal will have. Please see the
Debian-Vote archives for the full discussions.
The Proposal is Counter to the Social Contract
~~~ ~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~ ~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~
The proposal may violate the spirit of section 5 of the Social Contract
<http://www.debian.org/social_contract> which says that non-free and
contrib are not a part of The Debian Distribution but that Debian will use
its resources to support them as a service to its users. Section 4 also
clearly states that Debian's first priority is to its users and the free
In short, this argument rests on the assumption that separating non-free
and contrib onto another server will make it harder for our users and would
thus violate Section 4 and/or 5.
It is Only the Start..
~~ ~~ ~~~~ ~~~ ~~~~~~~
A few paranoid people feel that separation would only be the start of a
larger campaign to distance the non-free software from Debian. Already
the APT author has agreed to remove non-free and contrib from the default
source list and some of the Archive Masters have indicated that they would
give the new non-free upload queue a lower priority than non-free software
currently enjoys. When RMS first brought up this idea he was also keen to
not only separate non-free but to make it so that the users could not
accidently discover it and consider it part of the distribution either on
the web pages or during the install.
Essentially the archive split may mark a change of policy towards reduced
support of non-free/contrib packages.
The proposal does not set any sort of general rule but addresses a single
problem with a single site. Even after voting the question will still
remain if anything should be done with non-us, the web site and other
places the contain references that may confuse users about the separation
that exists. It addresses a single technical problem and it does not
address the larger issues of Debian's support of non-free software that is
not part of The Debian Distribution.
Does it Really Matter?
~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~
Ultimately the proposal is based on the assumption that users are/will
be confused by the proximity of the non-free packages to the main
archive. This is really impossible to prove either way so it has
represented a point of contention. Several people suggest that
non-free.debian.org is no more clear than debian/dists/unstable/non-free
and that tools like APT (which already indicates if the package is
main/contrib/non-free) make the change all but pointless. Since any
mirrors of the new non-free archive will likely also mirror debian
proper it becomes even more questionable if anything has been accomplished
As stated the proposal will require a separate machine for hosting the
new non-free archive with bandwidth able to handle an excess of 3G per day.
This will require Debian to solicit sponsorship and purchase hardware or
place more load other machines to support this increase in bandwidth.
In all likely hood the new non-free.debian.org machine would also contain
a mirror of the main archive and serve as a master.non-free.debian.org.
Since we would be removing non-free from the main archive an alternate
mirror network would have to be arranged and new mirrors setup and our
users informed of them. With nearly 200 mirrors of the main archive this
is a non-trivial loss that will be time consuming and difficult to recover
from. Many people will have to be involed and some mirror masters may not
agree with our discision.
Ultimately for this point it is a personal matter of when the cost exceeds