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Analysis of the ballot options

Summary: you probably want 3 or 6.

On Fri, Jun 18, 2004 at 12:59:33PM -0500, Debian Project Secretary wrote:
> [   ] Choice 1: Postpone changes until September 2004  [needs 3:1]
> [   ] Choice 2: Postpone changes until Sarge releases  [needs 3:1]
> [   ] Choice 3: Add apology to Social Contract         [needs 3:1]
> [   ] Choice 4: Revert to old wording of SC            [needs 3:1]
> [   ] Choice 5: "Transition Guide" foundation document [needs 3:1]
> [   ] Choice 6: Reaffirm the current SC                [needs 1:1]
> [   ] Choice 7: Further discussion

Options 1-3 are essentially clones with subtle variations. 2 is the
same as 1, but without the time limit. 3 is the same as 2, but is less
intrusive while still accomplishing the same goal - it doesn't mess
with unrelated parts of the SC. (If you want 3 but with a time limit,
vote for 'further discussion' and next time participate in the
discussion instead of sitting around like a lemon)

It is unfortunate that these three options were not combined, but
there has been something of a buckshot approach to the construction of
this ballot. Option 3 is essentially the refined version of 1 and 2.

Option 5 may in itself be a good idea, but it is essentially
orthogonal here, and worse, it doesn't actually answer the question of
"what do we do about sarge?" - it just says "carry on", which says
"non-free release" if you were expecting a non-free release and "free
release" if you were expecting a free release.

[I would tentatively support the notion of introducing something like
option 5 as a separate ballot; it seems like a valid idea. But it's
probably not a good idea to write this in a hurry, and I think it
would be better written in the style of the constitution].

Option 6 is the other position - that free software is what matters.

There are essentially two positions here, which appear to be best
represented by options 3 and 6. In summary, these positions are:

Debian is about releasing software
Debian is about releasing free software

If you think that it is more important to release some software than
to release free software, you should probably rank 3 first. If you
think that it is more important to have free software, you should
probably rank 6 first.

I would point out that historically, Debian does not release before it
is ready, and that's why our releases usually work so well. Option 3
is the "release before it is ready, because releasing is more
important than being ready" option. Option 6 is the "better rather
than sooner" option.

On a side note, there has been a meme floating around that says:

"There is an inherant contradiction in the SC, between the needs of
free software and the needs of our users. Both options are in conflict
with the SC because one ignores free software, while the other ignores
our users."

The assumption here is that our users are not best served by free
software. I question why anybody who holds that opinion would have
anything to do with Debian, or free software in general. I think that
our users are best served by having free software, and releasing with
anything less is doing them a major disservice, especially if we foist
non-free software on them for two or three years until the next

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
 `. `'                          |
   `-             -><-          |

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