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Re: We *can* be Free-only



On Sun, Jan 11, 2004 at 11:50:43PM -0500, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> John Goerzen wrote:
> >  What's more, if there really are as many people that find
> >non-free vital, they will no doubt posess the skill, will, and resources
> >to ensure that a quality non-free repository will exist for a long time.
> >I very much suspect they will do a better job maintaining it than we
> >have to date.  As a result, our users' pain will be only the slight one
> >of an edit to sources.list and a dselect update.
> 
> That's a good argument.  However, to play devil's advocate, what if the 
> result is that Debian Developers start trying harder to sneak non-free 
> stuff into "main"?  At this point, given the amount of non-free stuff 
> which *already* lives in main,  I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised.

That's an interesting angle that I haven't seen mentioned before.

I think I can see two sides to that coin.

On the one hand, I don't think that there will be any impact on the
discussions in debian-legal.  People there are already fairly well
accustomed to analyzing licenses on their merits.

Yes, I think it could mean more resistance on the part of developers.
But, I haven't really seen much resistance to date, and I don't think it
will be a great problem.

As far as sneaking non-free into main... again, I don't think this has
been a huge problem.  I think that most non-free works in main are those
which were historically considered free (perhaps because we didn't
understand their non-freeness in the past, or perhaps because of
changing circumstances upstream, or other matters) but which now are
considered non-free.

The problem of non-free snuck into main is one which will eventually be
exposed; it is, in fact, impossible to hide this from other developers
with prying eyes.

> Currently Debian has maintainers who refuse to remove non-free works 
> from *main*.  Do you think they're going to become more reasonable about 
> this if non-free is removed?  I think they're going to become *less* 
> reasonable.

Again, I haven't seen this as a huge problem; for instance, with the GIF
transition a few years back, cooperation usually was good.  IIRC, the
largest problems were with lethargic maintainers that weren't
maintaining their packages anyway.

> Incidentally, have you started work on removing the non-free GNU 
> documentation from your system and replacing it?  This work is going to 
> take a while.

Indeed, and unfortunately I lack both the time and expertise for doing
that.

Thanks for your thought-provoking post.

-- John



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