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Re: Another Non-Free Proposal

On Tue, Jan 06, 2004 at 09:19:04PM -0500, paulf@quillandmouse.com wrote:
> I'm sorry if this grates, but I've heard these proposals over and over
> in the last few months, and it's getting old.

I've been hearing these proposals over and over for the past four YEARS,
at least.

> I think Debian should either give itself over completely to RMS's GNU
> Project, or acknowledge that there is some value in software that's
> not completely free in the "Debian" sense.

I think that's a false alternative.  I do not think the Debian Project
should subordinate itself to the Free Software Foundation.  I am also
quite comfortable with the fact that many people find value in
non-DFSG-free software, and moreover that different people find value in
it in different ways.

Both of these are completely to the question of whether it should be
part of Debian's mission to distribute non-DFSG-free software.  People
can feel a certain way about any of these propositions without a
particular position on the others being consequent.

I submit, therefore, that you have failed to correctly identify the
point of contention.

> It seems I recall recently a movement to remove the RFCs from
> Debian, because they were not "free" in the Debian sense.

Many non-DFSG-free RFCs were removed from packages in main, because
according to our Social Contract and the Debian Policy Manual,
non-DFSG-free works are not permitted in main.  Many DFSG-free RFCs
(believe it or not, such things do exist) remained in main.

> How absurd must we get before people come to their senses?

I don't personally find ridicule very persuasive.

> You're going to end up driving people away from Debian proper and into
> other distros.

Possibly.  It is not an aspect of Debian's mission to be the most
popular distribution in the world.  In fact, in our Social Contract we
specifically encourage the development of other distributions: "we'll
allow others to create value-added distributions containing both Debian
and commercial software, without any fee from us.".

> I love the Debian distro, but I swear sometimes Debianistas act like
> MacIntosh people, with this attitude that they're superior to everyone
> else, and that only they have the One True Vision (tm).

I guess I shouldn't reply to this paragraph.  :)

$ cat /proc/cpuinfo
cpu		: 740/750
temperature 	: 11-13 C (uncalibrated)
clock		: 400MHz
revision	: 130.2 (pvr 0008 8202)
bogomips	: 796.26
machine		: PowerMac1,1
motherboard	: PowerMac1,1 MacRISC Power Macintosh
detected as	: 66 (Blue&White G3)
pmac flags	: 00000000
L2 cache	: 1024K unified
memory		: 1024MB
pmac-generation	: NewWorld

> Not that this will make any difference whatsoever. I just get tired of
> hearing this almost religious fervor about Debian's definition of
> "free" software.

Your beef is probably with the Social Contract, which all Debian
Developers agree to abide by when they join the Project.  It says: "We
promise to keep the Debian GNU/Linux Distribution entirely free
software. As there are many definitions of free software, we include the
guidelines we use to determine if software is "free" below."  What's
"below" is the DFSG, which is Debian's primary tool for distinguishing
"free" software from "non-free" software.

Strictly speaking, Debian doesn't *have* a "definition" of Free
Software.  Our determinations are more organic processes, which you can
observe in action on the debian-legal mailing list.

In any event, if you wish to reduce the importance of the DFSG to the
Debian Project and the actions of our developers, the best course of
action is probably to propose the amendment or repeal of the Social
Contract on the debian-project list.

> Sometimes I think I'm listening to RMS.

Is that a good or a bad thing?[1]

> Okay, flame away, folks.

I will leave that task to others.

[1] fnvq n thl jubz EZF pynvzrq ur jnf "abg ba fcrnxvat grezf" jvgu, ohg
    url, jub nz V gb zrff jvgu fbzr TE bccbaragf' oynpx-naq-juvgr ivrj bs
    gur jbeyq?  :)

G. Branden Robinson                |     Reality is what refuses to go away
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     when I stop believing in it.
branden@debian.org                 |     -- Philip K. Dick
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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