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a different kind of proposal on the non-free issue

Rather than nitpick the quoting, attributions, and logical flow of
past arguments I will share my current thoughts on this issue:

1) The DFSG spells out what the Debian project considers free software.
2) The first clause of the social contract says "We promise to keep the
Debian GNU/Linux Distribution entirely free software."  "free software" is
defined by the DFSG.
3) While the current situation, main == the debian distribution, meets this
criteria, non-free is perceived by many to be part of the distribution.
Some argue that we need to educate the confused users what is and what is
not part of the distribution and that their perceptions are simply
false. My opinion is that most of our users do not participate in legal
hair splitting that is so popular on these mailing lists, and think
debian.org apt sources == "the Debian distribution" and never look into it
beyond that.
4) I believe that distributing only DFSG packages from the debian.org
domain would go a long way in clearing up this confusion.

In some other thread I proposed a technical approach of making non-free
inaccessible from debian.org domains.  One way to do this would be to drop
it altogether; that seems to be the focus of this "debate".  I propose(d) a
second approach where we:

1) Register nonfree.org (which appears to already exist and be related in
some way to perens.com)
2) Make it an alias to debian.org
3) Configure apache, ftp, and rsync to hide non-free when requests come in
to the debian.org.  I'm hand waving a bit here; I know it could be done for
apache fairly easily, I'm not sure about for ftp or rsync.  (Well, I could
see doing UML or chroots or something but that seems like overkill.)
Anyways, it seems like a solvable technical issue.
4) Figure out how to best redirect users wishing to use nonfree packages to
nonfree.org with the minimum amount of inconvenience.

Why do I think this is worthwhile?  It's an intermediate step between the
current situation and completely dropping non-free.  It starts the
migration of end-user apt sources for non-free to nonfree.org in the most
painless way possible.  (It's not like suddenly it moves to some
developer's personal machine on a 56k line ;-)) I think this proposal falls
well within the spirit of the Social Contract as it currently stands, while
addressing the real issue of confusion between what is and what is not
Debian.  If we want to move beyond this (and get nonfree off of project
servers altogether in the future) then we will have already faced #4 above
and it should be more simple to do at that point.

Feel free to find logical errors in my arguments, lecture me on the fine
points of debating, and force me to look up words that are not common
everyday vocabulary for proles such as myself.  If you think that is fun or
worthwhile, it is your perogative to focus the discussion that way.
Personally, I'd like to find a solution to this issue that everyone can
live with and move on.

Take care,
Dale E. Martin, Clifton Labs, Inc.
Senior Computer Engineer
pgp key available

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