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The Gordian Knot (was Re: Negative Summary of the Split Proposal)

On Jul 05, Richard Stallman wrote:
> I have asked Debian to provide A main server that holds only the free
> software.  This doesn't mean removing the non-free packages from ALL
> the main Debian servers, only from ONE or some of them.
> I have asked for the web pages to be separated, so that we can refer
> to the free part alone.  This means removing the reference to non-free
> packages from PART of the Debian web pages, not from all.  There would
> still be Debian web pages on Debian web servers which talk about the
> non-free packages, just as there are now.

My understanding was that the archive split proposal only affects the
FTP and HTTP services for downloading packages.  As such, it does
nothing to promote your goal of providing an interface to only the
free packages (it only changes the URLs of the non-free ones).

FYI, the site layout is:


Almost all links into the archive go to at least
/debian/dists/RELEASE/main/binary-ARCH (or disks-ARCH/current); nobody
new to Debian is pointed at the root directory of an FTP site (because
you'd never find the boot floppies in a million years from it).
Accidentally wandering out of binary-ARCH into non-free takes 3 chdir
operations (it takes 5 to actually ever see a non-free package).  The
server may hold non-free software, but it takes quite a bit of work to
find it.

What I understand you want is a page, or set of pages, that just talk
about the "main" section and don't link to anywhere that talks about
contrib or non-free.  This can be achieved in a few hours: mirror
www.debian.org, expunge references to contrib and non-free, and put
that page up somewhere.  Perhaps http://(www.)?debian.gnu.org/ is an
appropriate address.  We could virtual host it in VA and not even
bother with a mirror process (simply copy the pages over then edit
them).  The "main only" pages could be easily generated from the
master copies with a bit of markup on the master copies.  i.e. on a

Debian has over 3000 packages in the main distribution.<p>


We also provide infrastructure to support software that does not meet
our guidelines; see <a
for those packages.<p>


No doubt some sed or perl wizard can write a one-liner that will
sanitize pages formatted like this.  Voila, mission accomplished.
Cost: one IP address and a few hours going through the existing pages
and marking them up like this.  Oh, adding ~six lines to
/etc/apache/httpd.conf, writing the one-liner perl script, and setting
up cron to run the perl script on each page every night.  Sum total:
much less hassle and inconvenience than kicking all our mirror sites
in the nuts, and we actually achieve what RMS wants.  Presumably it
does what Wichert wants to achieve as well, albeit at the website
rather than the mirror level.

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