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Re: Debian for third party (read: propietary) apps/vendors

Lisandro Damián Nicanor Pérez Meyer <perezmeyer@gmail.com> writes:

> There are third party vendors (read: propietary) that support the installation 
> of their software in Debian, but mostly because selfish reasons: they need to 
> be present everywhere for their business model to work. A clear example of 
> this is Skype.

Most proprietary packages exist for the same reason: there's demand for
it, demand that can be turned back into money. Very few (if any at all)
proprietary vendors package up their software for distributions just to
be nice.

> Now there is a second class of apps/vendors which do not need to be ubiquitous
> for their business model to work. Most of the examples that come to my mind 
> are CAD-related: Synopsys [0], Cadence [1] and Mentor [2] are examples of 
> propietary vendors that give support for Linux but just on Red Hat and 
> sometimes, Suse. And they are a PITA to make them work on Debian. This makes 
> IT workers need to have RH/Suse/CentOS boxes even if the rest of them run 
> Debian.
> Now my question is: without going against the Social Contract, is there 
> anything Debian can/should do wrt this situation?

The difference between Debian, RedHat and SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise
Server) is that there's commercial support behind the latter two,
there's a company where vendors can turn to if they need
support. There's no such entity behind Debian. There are companies that
do sell Debian support, but that's not quite the same.

This status quo means that vendors rarely invest into preparing Debian
packages, because only a very small percent of their users are running
Debian (due to their business requiring support contracts from the
vendor, which is much easier and straightforward to obtain in the
RHEL/SLES cases, for example), and investing into making proper Debian
packages is simply not worth it.

As such, there's nothing Debian can or should directly do.

On the other hand, we have downstream distros where the parent company
does provide similar support guarantees that RHEL and SLES do. If third
party vendors start creating packages for these distributions, that may
very well make it easier to run said software on Debian too (like how
the RPMs are often run on CentOS instead of RHEL). This would help
Debian users who, for some reason, need to run said proprietary

But even then, I would not wish Debian to go to great lengths to
accomodate non-free software. We should not make it unnecessarily hard,
either, but that's about it. If vendors don't provide Debian packages,
there's nothing we - as a project - can or should do to change
that. We're not the users that matter for the vendor, we're a target
platform, and it's not the platform that matters, but whether there's
enough users to make the effort of supporting the platform worth it.

(It's not like it's hard to make debian packages. It most definitely is
not. It isn't particularly hard to support Debian stable, either [my
employer provides packages for one of our propriertary tools for Debian
Sarge(!) too, it's not terribly hard].)


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