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Amendment of Proposal - Deferment of Changes from GR 2004-003

On Tue, Apr 27, 2004 at 08:41:35PM -0500, Steve Langasek wrote:
> The Debian Project,
> affirming its committment to principles of freeness for all works it
> distributes,
> but recognizing that changing the Social Contract today would have grave
> consequences for the upcoming stable release, a fact which does not
> serve our goals or the interests of our users,
> hereby resolves:
> 1. that the amendments to the Social Contract contained within the
>    General Resolution "Editorial Amendments To The Social Contract"
>    (2004 vote 003) be immediately rescinded;
> 2. that these amendments, which have already been ratified by the Debian
>    Project, will be reinstated effective as of September 1, 2004 without
>    further cause for deliberation.

While I would certainly prefer this to "further discussion", I would
like to propose the following amendment. (Alert eyes will note that it's
Option C from Jeroen's post yesterday; I drafted the text that forms the
basis of that Option anyway. I talked to Jeroen, who says he's currently
busy with real-life tasks.)

  Points 1. and 2. above are removed and replaced with:

  1. that the following text be appended to the first clause of the
  Social Contract:

    We apologize that the current state of some of our documentation and
    kernel drivers with binary-only firmware does not live up to this
    part of our Social Contract. While Sarge will not meet this standard
    in those areas, we promise to rectify this in the following release.

  The first clause of the Social Contract as amended will read as

    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

    We apologize that the current state of some of our documentation and
    kernel drivers does not live up to this part of our Social Contract.
    While Debian 3.1 (codenamed sarge) will not meet this standard in
    those areas, we promise to rectify this in the next full release.

> Rationale: 
> As a seconder of the earlier GR, I certainly do consider these
> amendments to be editorial in nature, as they are consistent with my
> understanding of the existing Social Contract; and I believe these
> clarifications are beneficial in the long term, because the ambiguities
> in the Social Contract led mostly to sterile arguments about whether the
> DFSG *should* apply to works we distribute that are not programs.
> It's just the timing that sucks.
> In talking with the Release Manager, it is apparent to me that his
> understanding of the previous wording of the Social Contract, while
> different from mine, is internally consistent; and that attempting to
> persuade him that a different interpretation should have held would do
> nothing to move the release forward, as I cannot in good conscience
> argue that he should be less principled in the enforcement of the Social
> Contract than he has been to date.  I am therefore putting forth this
> proposal because my *own* principles hold that releasing sarge this year
> with the same blemishes that have existed since the beginning is better
> than releasing a sarge next year that has no non-DFSG content.
> A fixed four month period should (based on current projections) give us
> ample time to release sarge, while not allowing so much time that
> maintainers are left to think that resolving the status of non-program
> components of Debian vis à vis the DFSG is not an imminent concern.
> I realize that others have other prospective GRs in progress, but I
> believe that it's important to bring a quick resolution to the current
> situation, and would therefore like to be able to start the clock on the
> discussion period ASAP.  I am looking for seconds for this proposal, or
> barring that, amendments.

I largely concur with Steve's rationale above. However, having amended
the Social Contract already in a way that many of our developers feel
best expresses their principles yet being quite some distance away from
being able to meet those standards, I feel that the most honest approach
is to note in the Social Contract itself that we apologize for not
living up to those principles just yet. We can then get on with
releasing something that's the best we can do in the time we need to
satisfy those of our userbase who are frustrated with the age of the
previous release, and start removing or rewriting whatever's necessary
after that.

As well as being, in my opinion, more honest, amending the Social
Contract rather than resolving to ignore it means that the Release
Manager will no longer be in the position of either having to violate
the Social Contract or else having to postpone a full Debian release for
an as yet indeterminate period of time. (This also applies to Steve's
original proposal.)

The Social Contract as amended here does not require the removal of
non-free documentation or kernel drivers with binary-only firmware from
sarge or its point releases; but it restores the full force of version
1.1 with effect from sarge+1. It does not excuse any other DFSG
violations in sarge. I feel that we already have plenty of incentive to
release sarge in a short timeframe, and that we're well on the way to
doing so.

I'm looking for seconds for this amendment.

Colin Watson                                  [cjwatson@flatline.org.uk]

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