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Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge

On Sun, Apr 25, 2004 at 07:28:11PM -0500, Debian Project Secretary wrote:
>        At this point, with 244 ballots resulting in 216 votes from
>  214 developers, "Choice 1: Change the Social Contract [3:1 majority
>  needed]" has carried the day., with a 4.462:1 majority, well over the
>  3:1 needed.

The Social Contract now states:

] 1. Debian will remain 100% free
] We provide the guidelines that we use to determine if a work is "free"
] in the document entitled "The Debian Free Software Guidelines". We
] promise that the Debian system and all its components will be free
] according to these guidelines. We will support people who create or
] use both free and non-free works on Debian. We will never make the
] system require the use of a non-free component.

As this is no longer limited to "software", and as this decision was
made by developers after and during discussion of how we should consider
non-software content such as documentation and firmware, I don't believe
I can justify the policy decisions to exempt documentation, firmware,
or content any longer, as the Social Contract has been amended to cover
all these areas.

As such, I can see no way to release sarge without having all these
things removed from the Debian system -- ie main.

This will result in the following problems:

	* important packages such as glibc will have no documentation

	* many pieces of hardware will not be supported by the Debian system

	* firmware will need to be split out of the kernel into userspace
	  in all cases

	* firmware will need to be packaged separately from the
	  kernel/X in all cases

	* debian-installer will need to be rewritten to support obtaining
	  non-free firmware but not other non-free packages

	* firmware for drivers needed for booting (network cards
	  particularly) will need to be made available as udebs in
	  non-free, and separate non-free d-i images will need to be
	  made for people relying on that firmware

At the rate we're currently going, I don't really expect to be able to
achieve this this year. In light of the new Social Contract, however,
I don't believe there are any other decisions I can make in this area.

As the only other way this decision can be made is via the technical
committee (under 6.1(3) or 6.1(4) presumably), or by General Resolution
(4.1(3)) I'd suggest other folks start considering whether they think
the social contract as rewritten means what it says.

For reference, I'll note that the author of the amendment in arguing for
this change noted:

] I have systematically eliminated all references to "software", because
] some people disagree about what it means. Most of the changes to
] clause 1 were to accomodate this.

  -- http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2004/debian-vote-200401/msg01700.html

So, if the technical committee would like to comment on this issue,
take the decision out of my hands, or overrule any decision I might
otherwise make, now would be a good time. Otherwise, if folks want to
take up a GR to do likewise, now is a good time to start thinking about
it. As it stands, though, I don't see any flexibility in the above.


Anthony Towns <ajt@debian.org>
Debian Release Manager

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