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Re: non-free?

On Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 11:55:56PM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
> I think we should continue to maintain contrib and non-free as part of the
> Debian project because, by doing so, we enable people to use more free
> software than they otherwise would be able to do.  So I'm not particularly
> upset by the fact that the repository system we uses clearly identifies
> contrib and non-free as maintained by the Debian project.  That's honest.
> It doesn't sit right with me to hide that fact artificially.  If we're
> going to actually stop maintaining those archives as part of our project,
> that's one thing.

That's a very interesting viewpoint for me, because it's kinda dual to
mine. I understand what you're saying and it has its own merits. But
OTOH I see another part of our *current* stance as non honest, the part
where we say that contrib and non-free are not part of Debian, because
for many practical purposes that's simply not true.

Essentially, that statement is true only for who has read it in the
social contract, in a weird sort of self-fulfilling way. What is true
--- and we should pride ourselves with it --- is that contrib and
non-free are not enabled by default. But aside from that choice, often
done once and for all, many of our users would have a hard time
distinguishing which packages (that they use or otherwise) are from main
and which are not.

This is essentially why I'm in favor of communicating more and more
clearly about where the red line between main (oops, I should have
written "Debian" here instead of "main", right?) and the rest is, as
well as augmenting our tooling so that user are informed on a package by
package basis about the freeness of what they use. An idea I've been
toying with, which is up for grab due to the usual ENOTIME problem, is:

- add debtags facets to classify non-free packages in terms of which
  freedom you give up when using it (is it non-redistribution? is it
  restriction of use? etc.)

- make vrms ship APT hooks that tell the user about that

Other ideas discussed in this thread goes in similar directions,
including a refinement of non-free components, or making our APT
frontend be more clear about the fact that the user is about to install
non Debian software. (This time it sounds more scary, right?)

Stefano Zacchiroli  . . . . . . .  zack@upsilon.cc . . . . o . . . o . o
Maître de conférences . . . . . http://upsilon.cc/zack . . . o . . . o o
Former Debian Project Leader  . . @zack on identi.ca . . o o o . . . o .
« the first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club »

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