[Fsf-Debian] No response?

Paul van der Vlis paul at vandervlis.nl
Sun Aug 5 13:04:20 UTC 2012

Op 04-08-12 12:15, Bryan Baldwin schreef:
> On 08/04/2012 08:12 AM, Paul Wise wrote:

>> Fundamentally, the issue seems to be about the clarity of the 
>> distinction between Debian (the 'main' section) and 
>> non-free/contrib. Do we have any opinion from RMS or other FSF 
>> folks about what amount of clarity is required before they would 
>> consider Debian a "free distro"? Until we have that there isn't 
>> much point discussing potential levels of separation.
> I agree. And it dances around the real issue.
> The point of separation of main from contrib/nonfree is moot. It
> doesn't matter whether Debian developers or maintainers work in both
> sectors or not. The only thing that really matters is what is in your
> literature, your documentation, and your repositories. Of course,
> people who really really cared about their freedom probably wouldn't
> want to work in both camps.
> It would be interesting to get a response directly from FSF
> _specifically for Debian_ to meet the free distribution requirements,
> but its terribly terribly redundant. FSF have *already* published
> their requirements in sufficient detail with which to begin work. Does
> anyone working on Debian really need a third party to give
> step-by-step plan to figure it out?
> Asking FSF to examine Debian to give you such a response is tantamount
> to saying, "If you want us to be a free distribution, do our work for
> us." Being a free distribution is not mysterious, nor a moving target.
> Its all laid out rather unambiguously.

I think Debian should go it's own way. To be on the FSF-free list should
not be the goal but maybe the result of that.
The goal should be to have a free distro.

In my opinion it's not a good to have contrib and nonfree in the Debian
repositories. But I think many of those packages are important for some
people, and I think we should find a good place for them outside Debian.

And for me ease of use for the Debian users is more inportant then to be
FSF-free in a hurry. For me it would be perfect when we first remove
contrib and nonfree, and would talk about the new location of the
packages on the site. The FSF would not declare us FSF-free because of
that. But after some time most users will know, and we can remove it
from the site. Maybe we can be FSF-free then.

But this depends on the FSF. Maybe they will say: "Debian makes it to
easy for users to use non-free software. Everybody knows about
nonfree.org and you can find there nonfree software. Because of that we
don't put them on the FSF-free list." I can live with that then.

> Nonetheless, here is my take (not necessarily representative of FSF).
> * Remove all references to contrib/nonfree from *everything*. It
> should not appear in the comments of sources.list, or anywhere in the
> packages and documentation, or in Debian's websites and mailing lists.
> * No packages should require anything from contrib or nonfree to be
> installed (isn't this already true?).
> * No packages should reference, offer, or refer to any other nonfree
> software before, during, or after it is installed (even if it can be
> installed without the nonfree).
> * Replace all references like "understanding that some users need
> nonfree" with "we are dedicated to identifying and removing all
> nonfree packages whenever discovered and as soon as they are
> discovered." It would also be helpful if Debian developers were
> frequently caught in the act of doing so, as well. Not just labelling
> nonfree as bugs and ignoring it for years.
> Thus, if I browse the Debian website, or download a Debian installer
> and install it, or join a Debian mailing list, I expect never to see,
> hear, or discover anything about any nonfree software or repository
> anywhere, unless it is in a blacklist explaining why it was
> removed/not included. Requests for support for nonfree should be
> denied without comments or references that point to where such support
> is available.
> As far as where contrib/nonfree should go, if there were no direct
> links from Debian's websites, mailing lists, documentation, packages,
> or software to them, that would be good enough for me. Wherever they
> end up going, "Debian" probably shouldn't be part of the title, either.

I think this is all possible, except the point about the mailing lists.
In my opinion there should be "freedom of speech" on the lists.

> Needless to say, I'm completely skeptical and incredulous. Here's why.
> Unless the majority of Debian's movers and shakers are happy with and
> excited about the prospect of doing all of the above, I don't think
> Debian will *ever* get to the point where its a fully free
> distribution. Plastering the website with 100% free notices doesn't
> mean anything and doesn't count. You have to *want* to be free to get
> free. If Debian really really wanted to be free, this discussion list
> wouldn't even exist. The devs would have simply gone out, done it, and
> filled out the application email for consideration by FSF like
> everyone else who's on that list already did.

I am sure you would like to have a free bios, a free router, free
(cell)phones, a free TV and a free DVD player. Do you have them
allready? In the case not: if you really wanted to be free, you would
have removed all those non-free devices.

With regards,
Paul van der Vlis.

Paul van der Vlis Linux systeembeheer, Groningen

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