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Re: Results for General Resolution: Lenny and resolving DFSG violations

On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 10:03:20AM -0500, Theodore Tso wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 03:02:41PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> > Using the word "software" as the basis for the divide might be too much:
> I'm not convinced that leaving important parts of Debian undocumented
> over doctrinal disputes over licensing terms is actually in the best
> interests of users, but I recognize that's a position that people of
> good will can (and have) disagreed upon.  If it were up to me, I would
> have Debian work towards a system where packages could be tagged to
> allow enable common user preferences (we won't be able to make
> everyone happy) be enforced by what packages they can see/install.

Sure, I agree, and have supported similar proposals in the past. [0]

  [0] http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2005/04/msg00074.html

> Separating packages into separate sections to support these sorts of
> policy preferences is a hack, 

Not entirely. The pool/main (and dists/*/main) separation makes it easy
for mirrors to only get DFSG-free stuff (ie, they can just use rsync,
rather than needing to parse Debian-specific policy files). 

Otherwise, though, yes, definitely agree.

> I like this a lot.  However, I do have a few nits...
> >    We, the members of the Debian project, make the following pledge:
> >    1. We will build a free operating system
> >       We will create and provide an integrated system of free software
> >       that anyone can use. We will make all our work publically available
> >       as free software.
> Given how literalistic some members of our community can be about
> interpreting Foundation Documents, the second sentence is a little
> worrying.  I can easily imagine a Free Software Fanatic using the
> second sentance as an argument that we must stop distributing the
> non-free section, since non-free is, by definition, not Free Software.

The non-free stuff in non-free isn't "our work" though -- it's stuff
other people have made that we redistribute. "our work" is things like
debbugs, dak, debhelper, *.diff.gz, etc.

Maybe some DDs write non-free software that gets packaged, but that
can at least be differentiated by "Joe Random <joe@example.com>" versus
using a d.o address.

> And it could easily be argued that the work that Debian Developers to
> package non-free packages, which is after all distributed on the
> Debian FTP servers and via Debian Mirrors, would fall under the scope
> of "All our work".

I think any packaging code, even for non-free stuff, should be DFSG-free.
That might require dual-licensing, but that's okay.

> I'm not sure what you were trying to state by the second sentence
> above; one approach might be to simply strike it from the draft.  Or
> were you trying to add the constraint that any work authored by DD's
> on behalf of the Debian Project should be made available under a free
> software license, even if in combination with other software being
> packaged, the result is non-free?

Pretty much, yeah.

> >    2. We will build a superior operating system
> >       We will collect and distribute the best software available, and
> >       strive to continually improve it by making use of the best tools
> >       and techniques available.
> I'm worried about the first clause, because of the absolutist word
> "best" in "best software available".  Again, some literally minded
> DD's could view this as meaning that the best is the enemy of the
> good, and use this as bludgeon to say that since we have package X, we
> should not have packages Y or Z, because, X is the *best*.   

There's nothing there that says we won't also distribute the worst
software available, though. If you're worried about "the best" being
exclusionary, though, the same applies to tools/techniques. If bugzilla
is the best tool for bug tracking, we must immediately stop using
debbugs, eg. Ditto wiki software, list software, etc.

> I would certainly be willing to second and support such a proposal,
> should you decide that you are willing to make it as a formal proposal
> for a GR.

So that's one, but at least four more would be needed...

Here's a wiki page for people who think this is a reasonable or desirable
sort of thing to do: http://wiki.debian.org/SocialContractRevision . I've
only added my caveats, not ones that other people have already brought up.


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