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Re: Firmware & Social Contract: GR proposal

Anthony Towns <aj@azure.humbug.org.au> wrote:

> On Tue, Sep 05, 2006 at 11:09:17AM +0200, Frank K?ster wrote:
>> I do not in any way see this poll as an indication that we should revert
>> the SC change, or that we have failed (in fact, we have succeeded to a
>> large extent, just not 100%) or that we are being hypocritical.
> Consider comments like:
> Or, more to the point, articles like "Debian: too free?" (28/4/2004;
> http://lwn.net/Articles/82536/) or "Resolved: firmware is not software"
> (23/8/2006; http://lwn.net/Articles/196641/). 
> Personally, I find it absurd that we're acting in ways that mislead
> people into thinking that focussing on freedom is incompatible with
> producing a good system or delivering it on time.

I do not understand how this is related to my statement.  I haven't read
the newer article word-by-word (and I don't know how a 2 years old
article is interesting here), but it doesn't seem to me that it argues
that freedom is incompatible with releasing a good system on time.
Instead it nicely tells about different opinions and viewpoints, and a
prediction like "So Debian may well punt the issue again; expect its
return in a year or two."  is probably true, anyway, regardless of one's
views on the relations between freedom, quality and timelines.

> It's exactly right to say we haven't failed -- we've made some huge
> successes since sarge, and we've got more to come. But by having a social
> contract that sets the bar higher than we can achieve, we keep having
> these successes viewed as failures, both by ourselves and our users.

So instead of trying ot change the way some developers and users think,
we'd rather change our foundation documents?  

In my opinion, a project like Debian is never ready, and never perfect.
Everybody knows that we are not meeting the freedom goals in the SC to
100% (as well as other goals)[1].  But I do not see this as a failure,
rather as a challenge.  So why not try to explain this to the people,
instead of lowering our standards?  We don't lower our standards with
respect to software quality or security support, either, even if we do
miss our goals.

Regards, Frank

[1] and that is not only because of firmware, but also because there are
still non-free bits hidden somewhere; they have been found in the past
months and years, and they're probably going to be found in the future.
Frank Küster
Single Molecule Spectroscopy, Protein Folding @ Inst. f. Biochemie, Univ. Zürich
Debian Developer (teTeX/TeXLive)

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