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Re: RFD: amendment of Debian Social Contract



On Wed, Nov 05, 2003 at 01:11:58AM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > How do you square Debian continuing to distribute non-free software with
> > our promise to remain "100% free", and the promise that "every work in
> > our distributions will satisfy [the DFSG]"?
> The same way we always have; by claiming that non-free isn't "part of
> our distribution".

Except we're not saying "our distribution" anymore, we're using the plural.
We're also saying "100%", and "every work". There's nothing in there to
indicate that *anything* should be anything but completely free.

> If that answer is unsatisfactory to you, I'd be interested in hearing
> your thoughts on how we can be forceful about our dedication to
> remaining 100% free software in clause while while continuing to
> distribute things that aren't free software.

I think that's a contradiction in terms; how can you possibly be dedicated
to being 100% free software, while distributing non-free software? I suppose
we can just put in 110% in the first place, but, personally, I'd hardly find
that sane.

For reference, my current preferred ballot would probably look like:

	[ 2 ] Change social contract, drop non-free and contrib
	[ 4 ] Change social contract, keep non-free and contrib
	[ 1 ] Reaffirm social contract as is
	[ 3 ] Further discussion

I don't think it makes any sense to change the social contract if we
want to keep non-free and contrib -- if that's the case, let's leave
changing it until we're ready to get rid of non-free and contrib, when
it'll be far easier to get the required support -- and if more than 50%
of people wants to drop non-free, I don't think it makes sense for a
minority to demand that it be kept anyway.

Naturally others MMV, and I reserve the right to change my preferences
both as to rankings on options.

> I would have thought that leaving non-free alone while we study the
> issue, and come to a full understanding of what we want to do with it
> and why, would be the pragmatic[1] thing to do.

The pragmatic thing to do is to work out what we want to do, then decide
to do it; ie have the discussion first, then vote on it, not vote on
half the issue, then try to get ourselves out of whatever mess we've
got ourselves into.

> I think we can tolerate distribution of non-free works as a peripheral
> activity, 

Sure, that's what we're doing right now with non-free specifically
mentioned in the social contract. The total space non-free takes up in the
archive, is frequently less than that of a day's uploads to queue/accepted.

But I don't see how you can say "Debian will be 100% free", and remove
all the qualifications, and then say "but it's okay if there's some bits
of non-free stuff". If you want to keep the non-free stuff, you either
have to say "We're going to keep the non-free stuff" outright, or at
least admit "We'll probably only be mostly free". 

(And no, I don't much like saying "Debian will be 100% free", then
deliberately contradicting yourself with an "except for...". But it's
better to be up front about it, than say one thing, then do something
else.)

If I were to propose a rewrite the social contract, it'd probably look
something like:

   We, the contributors to the Debian project, make the following pledge:

     We will build a free operating system

   We will create and provide an integrated system of free software that
   anyone can use. We will make all our work publically available as free
   software. We will accept and support the use of the Debian
   distribution by all users for all purposes, without discrimination.

     We will build a superior operating system

   We will collect the best software available to form our operating
   system, and strive to continually improve upon it making use of the
   best tools and techniques available.

     We will support the community

   We will ensure our users, our developers and the wider free software
   community are encouraged to take part in Debian's development. We will
   be attentive to the concerns they raise, and work actively to resolve
   them.

     We will be open about our activities

   We will conduct our affairs in public and allow anyone to follow our
   discussions. We will make problem reports publically available as soon
   as they are submitted. Where public discussion is not immediately
   feasible we will make any private discussions publically available at
   the earliest opportunity.
   
     We will support all the software we can

   We accept that some of our users require the use of programs that
   don't meet our standards of freedom and quality. We will support these
   users by distributing, supporting and improving such software,
   whenever possible. We will ensure that this support does not
   needlessly burden users and developers who do not wish to use or
   maintain such software.

Cheers,
a "One distribution under God" j

-- 
Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

Australian DMCA (the Digital Agenda Amendments) Under Review!
	-- http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/blog/copyright/digitalagenda

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