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Re: RFD: amendment of Debian Social Contract

On Thu, Nov 06, 2003 at 06:22:40PM -0600, Steve Langasek wrote:
> On Wed, Nov 05, 2003 at 05:23:43PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> > Second, our users still aren't able to do everything they might like
> > to with free software; they can't play Flash games, they can't look
> > at Quicktime movies, they can't do internet banking with Java clients,
> > and they can't do a bunch of other things. Some of those things can be
> > ameliorated with non-free, although fewer are than is possible since
> > non-free hasn't been being maintained at the level it ought to be.
> Which of the lacunae on your list can be remedied with non-free software
> that we would actually be able to redistribute?  I don't think the
> absence of Java browser plugins from non-free is really due to a lack of
> interest -- last I checked, Blackdown was working through the legal tape
> to be able to let us redistribute their jre in non-free, but this has
> never come to fruition.

Yeah, we had an upload, but the copyright file didn't give Debian
permission to distribute it, so it got rejected. I don't think there's
been another upload since. At the moment, we basically just let the
maintainers of non-free packages do all the work -- make sure the
license is okay, get it built everywhere, worry about security updates,

But there are other things we could do. We could work out a legal way
to make it so that instead of it being "Debian" distributing the work
over the Internet and over the mirrors, but instead having it being the
maintainer distributing the work over "Debian" -- that might involve
making it so that the package can't be NMUed, eg. We could do other
things, like arrange for non-free packages to be autobuilt without making
source available outside the buildd network, to help make sure Debian
works as well on all arches as it does on i386. We could provide some
infrastructure to get people who apt-get non-free packages to register
the fact that they use it.

None of this sort of stuff is suitable for software in main, obviously,
so if working on non-free is verboten, it can't be done within Debian.
And some of it requires people to accept patches which only improve
things for non-free software, even if they only care about doing free
software stuff -- to support the above, changes would be needed to the
buildds (to build stuff without public source) and to the archive (to
make it impossible for specified packages to be NMUed). 

(If we're going to expect people to apply these sorts of patches, even
though they don't care about them personally, I think we need some
support in the social contract for the aim.)


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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