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Re: "keep non-free" proposal

On Tue, Jan 27, 2004 at 12:28:38AM -0500, Raul Miller wrote:
> Old:  "1. Debian Will Remain 100% Free Software"
> If we ignore the rest of the social contract, there's two distinct
> interpretations of this phrase.
> [A] Software which Debian distributes which is completely free will
> remain completely free.

First of all, I need to apologize for my earlier statement in a related
thread that you should generically substitute the use of word "that" for
"which".  They are distinctly different beasts.  Google turned up a few
grammatical advice sites[1,2,3] for clarifying the usage.  In any case,
the statement [A] is VERY wrong.  The use of "which" v.s. "that"
revolves around the idea of restrictive and non-restrictive clauses.
Use "which" to introduce non-restrictive clauses[2,3].  In the case of
statement [A], you are introducing essential information.  It is a
restrictive clause, therefore requiring the use of "that".

[A] Software that Debian distributes is completely free and will remain
completely free.

You want to make sure you're restricting the scope of "Software".  Your
original form, in it's non-restrictive form, would look like this.

> [B] Debian only distributes free software and will continue distributing
> only free software.
> If we look at what Debian actually does, and/or the rest of the social
> contract, [A] makes sense, but [B] contradicts both the rest of the
> social contract and the current structure of Debian.

If we count contrib and non-free, you are correct.  Debian does
distribute non-free software and software that depends upon it.
However, these are located in parts of the archive that are not
mirrored; they are contribution sections.  Although these sections are
maintained by Debian Developers, they are not sanctioned as part of

Just because the software exists on the archive doesn't mean it IS
Debian.  What helps define Debian is the Free Software as described by
the DFSG, thus why this type of statement is in the Social Contract.

> Unfortunately, [A] is a bit long to use as a title.  In principle, the
> title doesn't need to be completely elaborate -- the following text should
> fill in the details.  However, given that some people don't understand
> that [A] is the intended meaning, I propose the following restatement:
> New:  "1. Debian Shall Continue Distributing Software That's 100% Free"
> This is a bit longer than the original, but that's the cost of greater
> precision.

It is not more precise.  It is more verbose.  You're confusing the two.

> Old:  "We promise to keep the Debian GNU/Linux Distribution entirely
> free software."
> While this is a bit more specific than the title, it is in some sense
> too specific -- it doesn't make any promise for GNU/Hurd, nor any of the
> possible BSD distributions.

Dropping GNU/Linux from the sentance is sufficient to include other

> In part because of the implied promise of the title (if it's free, it
> continues to be free) this isn't a major defect.  However, despite
> this over-specific character, it still suffers from a similar
> ambiguity to that contained in the section title:
> [A] "entirely free" says how free the indicated software is.
> [B] "entirely free" says how many pieces of software are free.
> In this case, [B] is a bit more awkard, grammatically, but awkward
> grammar isn't an obstacle for misunderstanding.  I propose:
> New:  "We promise to keep the free software of the Debian System
> Distributions completely free."

Ambiguous use of "free" to define the word "free".  It is also a
misdirection of purpose.  It has changed from distributing free software
to guaranteeing the "freeness" of free software, which in my honest
opinion is a job for EFI not Debian.

> The rest of this section defines what we mean by "entirely free" or,
> as I've rephrased it "completely free".

You've swapped a word one of its synonyms.  Yay.

> However, there is no great confusion about section 5.
> I propose we change the title of section 1 of the social contract, and
> the first sentence so they read:
>   1. Debian Shall Continue Distributing Software That's 100% Free
>       We promise to keep the free software of the Debian System
>       Distributions completely free.

As I have demonstrated, this proposal falls flat of anything called
rational thought.  Debian, by definition, is a distribution.  A
distribution, by definition distributes software.  Thereby we remove the
necessity of using the word "Distribute" in the title.

Andrew Suffield's proposal for this title is both more succinct and less

   "1. Debian will remain 100% free"

Debian (the distribution), will remain (indicating its current state)
100% (consist entirely or completely of) free (the definition of which
is indicated later in the paragraph).  The removal of the word
"software" removes ambiguity surrounding this word and that of "program"
and "works".  IMHO, it is the only rational edit for this title.

> We will continue to support free software, and non-free software, just
> as we always have.

We know this is your agenda, although you claimed earlier in this post
that your proposal would exclude it.

1. http://ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/conjunctions.htm (Omitting That)
2. http://ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/notorious/that.htm (Which v.s. That)
3. http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/which.htm

Chad Walstrom <chewie@wookimus.net>           http://www.wookimus.net/
           assert(expired(knowledge)); /* core dump */

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