[Fsf-Debian] Who gets to say what the definition of “Debian” is? (was: No response?)

Ben Finney ben+debian at benfinney.id.au
Sat Aug 4 07:37:43 UTC 2012

Bryan Quigley <gquigs at gmail.com> writes:

> > > Op 03-08-12 17:46, Daniel Kahn Gillmor schreef:
> > > > Debian is already 100% free software.
> > >
> > > In Debian there is a contrib and a non-free section. This is
> > > officially not a part of Debian, but in reality it is (in my
> > > opinion).
> >
> > The Debian project says those sections are not part of Debian,
> > explicitly in their foundational documents. Do we not allow the Debian
> > project to say what is and is not part of Debian?
> So if Ubuntu declares that multiverse and restricted are not "part of
> Ubuntu" the FSF should take their word on it?

Confusion between Canonical, an organisation, and Ubuntu, an operating
system, is symptomatic of the problem I'm highlighting here. Debian is
an operating system, one of the things maintained by the Debian project.

Surely this is familiar to people working with GNU: it's an operating
system, one of the things maintained by the GNU project.

Conflating the organisation and the operating system leads to thinking
that the only thing maintained by the GNU project is GNU, or that GNU
isn't an operating system, or that saying something is part of GNU is
claiming that the GNU project created it, or countless other shades of
confusion like that which should be familiar to us all and are to be
avoided if feasible.

Canonical do get to say what Ubuntu is, yes, since they're the ones
defining Ubuntu.

Just as the Debian project get to say what Debian is; in fact, they have
done so, in their founding documents.

> > > I don't want to change that, but I want to "move it away" to
> > > another organisation.
> >
> > Okay. But can we at least agree to use the definition of “Debian” that
> > the Debian project have given consistently from the beginning?
> What project or system is non-free a part of?

Why do you assume it is part of any project or operating system?

The claim I'm refuting is that non-free is “really” part of Debian. The
organisation which gets to declare that is the Debian project; they say
it's not. That should settle whether it is or is not “really” part of

Now, I agree that there is widespread confusion over this in people's
understanding of what is in Debian; which is a large part of why this
forum has been created. But we participating here need to agree on
definitions as fundamental as this, or agreement on what to do is rather

> Please see "Why is this important?"  http://www.gnu.org/distros/

I agree that this is important; that's why I'm drawing attention to it.

 \      “You say “Carmina”, and I say “Burana”, You say “Fortuna”, and |
  `\    I say “cantata”, Carmina, Burana, Fortuna, cantata, Let's Carl |
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Ben Finney

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