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Re: non-free?

On Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 6:43 AM, Lucas Nussbaum wrote:

> Without trying to get a cleaner sheet first, vrms says:
> Firmwares, documentation (make-doc, manpages-posix{,-dev}), rar (I had
> to open a RAR 3.0 archive some time ago, and forgot to remove the package),
> flashplugin-nonfree, virtualbox.

GNU has re-licensed some of its documentation to plain GFDL, it would
be interesting if the next DPL talk to the FSF about the rest of it
during their term.

For opening RAR 3.0 archives, you can replace rar with unar these days.

For virtual machines, virt-manager is quite capable these days.

My personal solution to Flash is to just remove it from my system. The
only time I miss it is when one of the many video downloaders we have
in Debian doesn't know how to download. Then I usually do some website
reverse engineering and send a patch.

> Is our position wrt non-free software really part of the five general
> principles that make us work together as a project? I don't think so.

I get the impression that our pragmatic approach to non-free attracts
people to Debian.

> Finally, the wording of SC#5 is suboptimal. For example, in "although
> non-free works are not a part of Debian, we support their use", the
> meaning of "support" could be clarified. Is it 'we provide technical
> support' or 'we defend/endorse their use'?

I think it means 'we provide technical support' since that is in
practice what we do, rarely if ever do our websites or software
endorse/defend their use even when suggesting that software from there
is needed for some specific purpose. I think we could do a better job
of discouraging use of non-free (just submitted #742550 about that) in
places where users are likely to encounter it (installer, packages
site, apt & frontends etc).

> However, I wonder if we couldn't do more in terms of notifying users that
> the package they are installing is in non-free. Currently, what happens is
> that you add 'non-free' in sources.list, but then you kind-of forget about
> it, and packages from main, contrib and non-free are just the same from the
> POV of 'apt-cache search' or 'apt-get install'. It could be interesting to
> explore the idea of asking for an install-time confirmation when the user
> wants to install non-free packages.

A couple of bugs along those lines: #274219 #680330

In practice almost everyone has non-free in their sources.list due to
most firmware being non-free. Also most developers will have non-free
in their sources.list due to various GNU documentation being in
non-free. Also most users will have non-free in their sources.list due
to things like Flash. At DebConf we discussed adding additional
sub-components (non-free/docs non-free/hw non-free/web non-free/games
etc) for different purposes. People needing specific classes of
non-free software could then enable just those subclasses that they
need. I think this would help in addition to your suggestion.



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