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Re: drop or keep non-free - from users viewpoint

On Tue, Mar 09, 2004 at 09:10:07PM +0100, Markus wrote:
> On Tue, 09 Mar 2004 20:10:13 +0100, Sven Luther wrote:
> > Well, spim may be an exception, but as soon as you speak about
> > libraries, and different versions from different sources of those, you
> > are starting to do into the .rpm dependency hell problem.
> yes, but i think the most things in non-free are user-programs,
> documentations and binary drivers. And this are things which have not a
> great impact of the stability of a system whether they come from a .deb
> .rpm or .tar.gz

Ah, but when said end user program, needs a newer version of some
library, newer than the one in the old redhat install you have, and you
go get the suse or mandrake version, or from who know what unofficial
archive, and this one is not really upto it, then the world of hurt does

> >> Yes the installation system of sarge will definitely an improvement. But
> >> main package still recommend or suggest non-free package which is some
> >> kind of advertising and promoting of non-free software.
> > 
> > And ? Where is this problem. We claim that we will not make base
> > dependent on non-free item, not that we will totally ignore those. Also,
> > it is quite hidden info, and a casual user will never even notice those
> > probably.
> i think this "advertising" will see at least everyone who install his
> programs with apt-get.

And ? Could easily be fixed in apt-get, who would show suggests and
recomends only if they are not non-free. Care to provide a patch for
this behavior, if it bothers you all that much ?

> > 
> > Well, you speak about the homepage, and this mean the actual home page,
> > and the text you can read on it. What you seem to imply is the full
> > content of the web site, and especially those stuff which is well hidden
> > from casual observation.
> ok, maybe i could have explain it more correctly. For me "homepage" was a
> synonym with "services which were offered through www.debian.org".

The homepage is the toplevel webpage of a site, anyway as far as i
understand web terminology.

> But i think there are many users who uses this package database and if i
> search a mp3 player and don't think a lot about free vs. non-free this
> search can lead me to non-free software even if there would have been a

But they are clearly labeled non-free, in big red letters, aren't they ? 

> free program for my needs. And i think Debian should lead there users to
> Free Software and not to non-free Software. Also i think if you see all
> these points, it's hard to explain the user that non-free isn't part of
> the Debian OS as i have already wrote in my first mail.

But, if there is a free alternative, we will remove the non-free package
(sure we have not done that as actively as we should in the past, but
this may change now), and the non-free alternative will not show up.

And if there is no non-free alternative, which is best ? an empty search
return, or showing the non-free package.

And if what i advocated comes to pass, a non-free program will be
accompanied with a reason why it is non-free, including the position of
upstream on licence change, and a regularly updated status report on
possible alternatives.

> >> not more than now. If its is no more part of Debian than main package will
> >> not suggest or recommend these packages and you will not find them in the
> >> package database on the Debian homepage.
> > 
> > And i seriously believe that removing recomends and suggests will be a
> > bad thing. If this is indeed the case, it is indeed one more reason not
> > to drop non-free, thanks for bringing it to my attention.
> I don't think recommends an suggests should be removed at all, but Debian
> main packages shouldn't recommend or suggest non-free packages, if
> non-free is really not part of the Debain OS than i think the Debian OS
> shouldn't recommend or suggest these software. 

Why not ? For example, the ocaml package i maintain recomends (or
suggests, don't remember exactly) the non-free ocaml-doc documentation
for it. It is saddly in non-free, because the author wants to know about
modifications, which is incompatible with the DFSG. But it is not all
that much more non-free than many FSF documentation currently in main,
but that is a flamewar for another day.

Anyway, what would be worse ? A recomend or suggest to the non-free
package, or a link to the online URL of the documentation ? 

Another example. The bignum library of the ocaml package was recently
discovered to be non-free, well not really non-free, the only reason for
it not to have been freed was for HP having lost the papers concerning
it in the DEC->Compaq->HP mess, but what do you want.

I thus decided to remove said library, modify the package, and have the
library in non-free until upstream reimplemented it freely. Upstream
implemented the free version so quickly this was no problem, faster than
a NEW processing would have been, but in this case, to keep the old
functionality in the transition period, a dependency would have been
best, but as this is not possible, a recomend or suggest is a nice
solution, don't you think. It is only a temporary solution until a
higher degree of freedom happens.

> > Except by being maintained by the exact same set of debian developers.
> Yes, but maybe also from some people who are not Debian Developers?
> But this work from this people would have nothing to do with Debian. This

Yeah, you think, but it does indeed have to do with debian activities,
be it only because the packaging of non-free stuff is done on otherwise
debian ressources, that is freely given volunteer time :)


Sven Luther

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