[Fsf-Debian] No response?

Stefano Zacchiroli zack at debian.org
Mon Aug 6 07:49:03 UTC 2012

On Mon, Aug 06, 2012 at 03:50:23AM +0000, Clint Adams wrote:
> On Mon, Aug 06, 2012 at 01:40:31PM +1000, Ben Finney wrote:
> > That would be the lie. They are not part of Debian.
> http://bugs.debian.org/zangband
> http://packages.debian.org/zangband
> http://packages.qa.debian.org/z/zangband.html
> https://buildd.debian.org/status/package.php?p=zangband
> Do you understand how a sane and honest person might disagree
> with you given the preponderance of evidence?

I agree and this is one of the criticism we need to address. But saying,
in reply to this, "see, we/you're lying" is not enough to actually solve
the issue.

One way out would be to say "drop contrib/non-free" from the Debian
*infrastructure*. Personally, I don't think it'd be totally fair. To
support that claim of main, consider this thought experiment: a
situation where Debian contributors actively work on non-free packages,
on their free time and benefiting from resources of the Debian
Project. But yet, the result of that work (some non-free packages) is
completely hidden from the final users. In that situation, no harm is
done in terms of advertising non-free software. At that point, I argue
that those people should be free to do what they want with their time
and Debian resources, no matter if the non-free bits merely happen to be
*colocated* with the official free bits that form the Debian

The above tells me that the crux of the issue is in communication. It
doesn't really matter where the non-free bits *are*. It matters *how
they are presented* to users.

For me, telling about the existence of non-free bits is a communication
device to tell users where is the line between free and non-free and
take that chance to explain why non-free is dangerous for your digital
freedoms. (Note that you don't get that chance if you merely hide the
existence of non-free stuff completely. But that's a slightly different
line of reasoning.)

Back to the very pertinent examples by Clint: what would be an
appropriate BIG FAT WARNING that properly explain to users that what
they are seeing is: 1/ non-free, 2/ not part of Debian, 3/ bad for them?

Something along the lines of "WARNING: this package is non-free
software. As such, it is not part of Debian. We cannot support is as we
do for free software and it is bad for your freedom because bla bla
bla". Any taker to properly write this?

(And please, refrain from lightly smash this down with "no, you should
delete non-free/contrib from your servers". That is indeed the
*alternative* solution, but for the sake of searching from common
ground, we need to be creative and explore all the various

Stefano Zacchiroli  . . . . . . .  zack at upsilon.cc . . . . o . . . o . o
Maître de conférences . . . . . http://upsilon.cc/zack . . . o . . . o o
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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