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Re: RFD: amendment of Debian Social Contract

On Sat, Nov 08, 2003 at 07:37:07PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> On Wed, Nov 05, 2003 at 05:51:21PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> > (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.)
> We're already widely perceived as doing exactly that.

Only by idiots. It is not reasonable to interpret:

  1. Debian Will Remain 100% Free Software


  5. Programs That Don't Meet Our Free-Software Standards

     We acknowledge that some of our users require the use of programs that
     don't conform to the Debian Free Software Guidelines. We have created
     "contrib" and "non-free" areas in our FTP archive for this software.
     The software in these directories is not part of the Debian system,
     although it has been configured for use with Debian. [...]

to be a declaration that we won't have anything to do with non-free.

It's certainly reasonable to claim that it's unclear or confusing,
and that's certainly a bad thing.

But by contrast, it's not remotely unreasonable to interpret:

  1. Debian Will Remain 100% Free Software

     [...] We will
     support our users who develop and run non-free software on Debian, but
     we will never make the system depend on an item of non-free software.

stripped of anything else addressing non-free software as a declaration
that we won't distribute non-free or help our users with non-free software
they've obtained from elsewhere beyond making sure our software conforms
to appropriate standards.

Elsewhere, Branden writes:
> Conflating the archive together with the BTS and mailing lists makes
> things quite a bit more black-and-white, and unreasonable, than they
> need to be.  Any proposal to forbid discussion of non-free software on
> the mailing lists would be impractical to implement, and would tend to
> frustrate our goal of supporting "our users who develop and run non-free
> software on Debian, but we will never make the system depend on an item
> of non-free software."

At present, debian-user is an appropriate place to discuss usage of
the qmail-src package we distribute. If we remove non-free, it won't
be. Certainly, that doesn't mean the word "qmail" will never appear on
Debian lists, but it's disingenuous to imagine that the archive is the
only piece of infrastructure that'll be affected should we drop non-free.
I have no idea why you think it's in any way unreasonable to not use
the Debian BTS to track bugs in packages not distributed by Debian,
nor why you think it's unreasonable to consider messages about software
not distributed by Debian to be off-topic on Debian lists.

The best way to avoid people ranking "Further Discussion" above options
you might like to see win is to ensure that adequate discussion has
already taken place, and that everyone's clear on the consequences. Trying
to blur things into shades of grey, creating ambiguities about what
will happen should the options pass, and getting distracted discussing
imagined problems in the voting system is the antithesis of that.


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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