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The "Free" vs. "Non-Free" issue

As I remember it, the reason for the DFSG guidelines had a lot more to do
with "what is it that we can support, what is it that we can distribute"
than it did with "what kind of software do we want to write".

That's because, originally, debian was not supposed to be about writing
software, but about pulling together a coherent distribution based on
what's already out there.

I don't think there's any argument that if you want to write free
software and you want it to stay free to redistribute that the GPL is
the best license for your purposes.  And, if you want to write free
software and you want it to be free to be used in a proprietary context
that the BSD (or maybe X) license offers the most of that "freedom to
become proprietary".

Of course, there are arguments about which kind of freedom is a truer
freedom.  And, of course, the DFSG has us distributing software under
both kinds of licenses (as well as a variety of others).

Anyways, this "let's drop non-free" seems to have two sub-threads.
One seems like an outgrowth of the "our freedom is a truer freedom than
their freedom" polemics.  The other seems like an outgrowth of the much
more practical "we need to manage our resources, we're growing too big"

Personally, I don't think the free/non-free issue is the right place to
hit, if we are trying to manage our ftp servers.

What I think should be the case for mirror operators:  they should
be able to drop non-free, contrib (and even extra) as they see fit.
It would make a lot of sense to have a mix of numerous fast mirrors which
only distribute debian's core packages, with a few larger/slower mirrors
which distribute a wider variety of packages.  I know our current mirrors
list, and heuristics such as apt-spy, don't really reflect this kind of
organization, but maybe they should.

How to do this is pretty simple, in the context of contrib and non-free.
For Extra... if we want mirror operators to have the option of not
distributing it we'd have to make it a separate apt-able archive, which
would have its own support and transition issues [and whether that's
actually a good idea is for other people to say].

Beyond that... if you're not interested in supporting non-free software,
just don't do it (I hope I'm not making any ftp/http admins unhappy).
But please don't demand other people avoid non-free software if you're
not willing to solve their problems.

The right way to get rid of non-free software, in my opinion, is to
write better free software.


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