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Re: Purpose of the Constitution and the Foundation Documents

Ean Schuessler writes ("Re: Purpose of the Constitution and the Foundation Documents"):
> [Ian Jackson] wrote: 
> > A. De-entrenchment: this is very unlikely to achieve the required 
> > supermajority. But it should be on the ballot anyway when 
> > we put this mess to a vote after lenny.
> > B. Developers are to interpret: this is I think the only workable 
> > option and given that we have several times now had a GR whose 
> > outcome was essential identical to that of the Developers in 
> > question, I think we might be able to get a supermajority. 
> > In case it doesn't, this ballot option should explicitly state 
> > that this is the Project's view of the corrent interpretation of 
> > the existing constitutional text and that this resolution is 
> > intended merely to clarify the constitution. 
> Your reasoning is sound as usual. Unfortunately, I do not see a
> solution in your conclusions (which remind me a bit of reading The
> Economist). We are stuck in a chronic morass because our mission to
> deliver a Free Software (or Open Source or whatever) operating
> system is built on terms for which there is no real agreement.

I'm proposing two possible solutions: de-entrenchment, and clearly
stating that developers are to interpret these terms for themselves.

This will allow everyone to mostly have their cake and eat it.  The
only people who ought to dislike this are those who prefer to achieve
their goals by browbeating or legislating developers who are actually
doing the real work.  If you prefer to achieve your goals (whatever
they are) by actually working on them directly then this does not
stand in your way at all.

> Its easy to design a legal system for a world where no one breaks
> the law. In real life you can't have B without some form of
> D. Sooner or later someone will put a crazy sourceless binary into
> main that people take issue with.

Then the ftpmasters and/or the TC will decide to throw it out.  If you
don't trust the ftpmasters and you don't trust the TC then what kind
of setup could you trust ?  If you're only willing to trust yourself
and your hand-picked co-adherents then I'm afraid you need to go and
find a much smaller project to be in :-).

Ultimately everything is done by people.  That's why the question the
constitution should answer is not what should be decided but who
should decide it.

In practice we have mostly muddled through for fifteen years without
adequately defining our terms and I don't see why we can't to the same
for the next fifteen.  We just need to stop people using the vagueness
of these terms as an excuse for interpreting them the way they want
and then beating people over the head with them.

(For reference: this makes it sound like I'm upset with the
hardliners.  That's not the case.  In fact I'm strongly opposed to all
of these binary firmware blobs and like nonsense.  It's just that I
recognise that the way I would have to fight that battle is by helping
to do the work to get them out of Linux rather than postponing Debian
indefinitely, which doesn't help anyone.)

>  Its simply a question of degree. The problem today is that "option
> D" is supplied in the form of a 18-monthly GR fight over RC DFSG
> compliance bugs. So while I agree with your reasoning, I challenge
> you to work things through to their conclusion. B is not a solution,
> its the beginning of a problem.

I think we should try option B.  I think you'll find it works fine.


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