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Re: "keep non-free" proposal

The position to remove non-free as integrated part of Debian is a
"technology first", "end user second" position.  While the goal for a
100% free distribution is a great goal, I draw the line when users are
negatively impacted for the sake of the goal.  It boils down to -- Who
do you put first-- the softare or the users?  A clear example of my
point is with the Nvidia driver.

What happens when Nvidia releases the "GeForce X" and there is no driver
support in the XFree86 module, but there is in the Nvidia driver? 
Debian end user loses.

What happens when there is support in the XFree86 driver, but it is for
XFree86 4.4 and their license is still prohibitive?  Debian end user

Some argue that distributing the Nvidia driver, and including it in the
X configuration is conforming to Nvidia's evil intentions.  I find this
a bit far fetched given the current small number of Linux desktops and
my personal experiences working with Nvidia.  I also find it a bit rash
to compare the Nvidia video drivers for Linux to be on the same level of
evilness as a Microsoft.  Nvidia integrates with existing (and custom)
kernels and XFree86.

*Users do not have to pay extra for the Linux software
*Nvidia allows redistribution of the software
*Users are not forced to run "Nvidia Kernels"
*Users are not forced to run "Nvidia Xwindows"
*Nvidia software is more feature rich and useful to users than the 100%
free alternative
  -Supports 3d
  -Support Xv 
  -Supports DVI
  -Supports multi-head

Nvidia's model is very similar to that of Netscape, and it is difficult
to argue against the positive effect that Netscape had for the free

Debian's position to not include support for the binary-only driver
negatively impacts end users.  Having a non-free video driver as the
only piece of non-free software on a system is a great leap from a 100%
non-free system.  

>From a technical standpoint, I urge people to consider that the
'Netscape model' is a great way for 3rd party vendors to move from a
100% closed source model to a free one over time.  Debian can be a great
vessel to facilitate these transitions.

>From a priority standpoint, given the fact that Nvidia is a top 2 video
chip manufacturer, I consider it core to the success of the free desktop
(and to some extent Debian) to put the end user first.

Matt Pavlovich <mpav@algx.net>
Allegiance Telecom, Inc.

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