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Re: GR: Removal of non-free

On Mon, Dec 29, 2003 at 04:02:42PM -0500, Raul Miller wrote:
> > While this is better than your previous proposal, I would still vote
> > it below the default option if it were on a ballot.

On Wed, Dec 31, 2003 at 03:53:50PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> How is this information useful to anyone?  

Well, it's a sample-size-1 representation of the voting audience.

But I also gave quite a bit more information than the above sentence
in that post, about the reasons.

[I prefer to present the specific information I have, rather than 
risk overgeneralizing.]

> Is there any form the proposal could take that you *wouldn't* rank
> below the default option?

I believe I already stated that there was.  However, the specific
case I proposed as an example was one Andrew indicated he was
not interested in.

> > Perhaps, in part, because I will need to install some non-free
> > software (patent restricted) to be able to vote on that ballot.
> Can you elaborate on that?

Yes.  My key is a pgp version 2 key.  

I've also been without a debian machine for almost two years [a matter
of time and available equipment], and while I just this month got a
machine which I can have as a debian development machine, I'm still
bringing it up.

> Given that the applicability of patents varies by jurisdiction, why
> is this squarely on point for a non-free GR?  France used to ban
> civilian use of all strong crypto.  Did that make such software non-free
> for the whole Debian Project?

In fact, it looks like the software I need to sign things with my keys
is no longer available on any of the easily reachable debian servers.

Which is too bad for me, but that's just more time.

> > However, I also very much dislike the fact that you would strike the
> > following language from our social contract:
> > 
> >      We acknowledge that some of our users require the use of programs
> >      that don't conform to the Debian Free Software Guidelines.
> If you thinking striking this sentence implies the converse (I don't
> think it does, but your mileage may vary), you are free to propose an
> amendment to Mr. Suffield's GR.

I'm also free to propose my own ballot issues.

If and when I think of one which would offer an improvement, I will.

However, I very much do think that striking an explicit acknowledgement
means that that acknowledgement is no longer there.

> >      Thus, although non-free software isn't a part of Debian, we support
> >      its use, and we provide infrastructure (such as our bug-tracking
> >      system and mailing lists) for non-free software packages.
> > 
> > If someone were to implement a decent alternative for that infrastructure,
> > I would be amenable to leaving that part out of the social contract,
> > but I do not like your "drop it on the floor" approach to this issue.
> Please define "decent alternative for that infrastructure".  What
> specifically do you expect people to be able to accomplish with a
> parallel infrastructure when the existing suffices?

I don't understand the point of this question.  Andrew is proposing that
the existing infrastructure be NOT used in this context.

> People who raise this point often seem to be constructing a catch-22; if
> we don't have an "alternative infrastructure" in place before dropping
> Debian's support for non-free, then there is a "pragmatic" objection to
> dropping non-free; however, if the alternative infrastructure is expected
> to be in wide use, then the people who participate in the current
> infrastructure are going to have to migrate to it pro-actively in
> expectation that a GR elimninating will pass, which they can help defeat
> by refusing to move and citing their own stubbornness as evidence that
> no "alternative infrastructure" exists.

I'd take a good faith effort to set up the alternative as sufficient
evidence that it's going to be there.

As things stand, contrib and non-free tend to lag behind the rest of the
project a bit.  I don't see any reason to require this to change before
we try to restructure them.

> > Furthermore, I think it's important to acknowledge that some of our
> > users require the use of non-DFSG software, and to support that use.
> Please define what you mean by "support"; you may find there is more
> common ground than you suspect.  I haven't seen a single advocate of
> non-free-removal propose that we implement technological
> "countermeasures" against non-free software on Debian systems.  The
> "vrms" package is about as hostile as anyone seems to intend to get.

Support is a fairly broad topic.  However what I'm most concerned about
is the user base which currently relies on contrib and non-free packages.

At the moment, "support" means to me that those users can have some
reasonable expectation of staying current with security fixes and other
improvements (which includes upgrades) without losing access to the part
of their system which currently runs contrib and/or non-free software.

> > More fundamentally, the "line" between "free" and "non-free" is extremely
> > complex, topologically.  I think a fuzzy approach towards handling
> > stuff on one side of that line vs. the other is much more correct than
> > an inflexible approach.
> You're probably interested in repealing clause 1 of the Social Contract,
> then, which says "We promise to keep the Debian GNU/Linux Distribution
> entirely free software.".  That sure seems like a simple, bright-line
> approach to me.

No, I'm not interested in repealing that clause.

> Moreover, our current approach seems to be quite fuzzy despite the
> nominal bright-line approach.  We have known DFSG-incompatible materials
> that are going to remain in main for the next release, by the decree of
> the Release Manager, and questionable materials typically remain in main
> while debates rage on the debian-legal mailing list.  In the "inflexible
> approach" you deride, presumably there is some "single, correct"
> categorization of such materials, but we don't collectively know what it
> is until we reach a consensus through discussion.

Which currently has contrib and non-free as an outlet.


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