Debian and non-free (Re: Savannah rejects a project because it uses GPL)

Bernhard R. Link brlink at
Thu Feb 16 12:39:04 UTC 2006

* Alfred M. Szmidt <ams at> [060215 20:41]:
> > > Nor is FDL-licensed documentation removed, it is _moved_ to the
> > > non-free section.  Which is part of Debian, desite whatever
> > > claims people will make.
> > Well, here we come back to names and definitions. [...]
> [...]
> Debian GNU/Linux (main) is 100% free software, yes.  But Debian as a
> whole is not, and not even Debian GNU/Linux as a whole.  Since
> non-free is part of the Debian project.

As I said, here we come to the area of definitions. If you want to make
your own, that's your right. But please do not contradict people in a
way like their definition is wrong and your non-standard definition is
the only way to truth.

> >  But Debian does not promise those will be free, but that it will
> >  create a 100% free operating system, which it really tries.
> I'd like to know what `free' means in your vocubalary.  You have
> switched between `free software' and `free', it seems to me that they
> are the say for you.

With free in this context I mean the (of course somewhat fuzzy) meaning
of "free in the sense of free software".

> > There is no pressure to knowlingly include or keep non-free stuff,
> > so people do not easily get caught, finding themselves depending on
> > stuff they do not have allowance to use the way they want. (Didn't
> > that ututo-e distributed by not contain some non-free
> > graphic card drivers some time ago?)
> I think you really should stop trying get on the moral high ground,
> Debian has consitently distributed non-free software since I started
> using it which was in the `bo' era.  

Sorry, free software is for me to a large extend a question of morale.
So morale is for me a important part of the question. I'm not into
stigmatize the world into good and bad, but to make it as good as

> That you then try to accuse
> someone for a something which is a simple error, or misjudgment, is
> simply saddening.

Good to hear that this was done by mistake. I didn't want to make
accusions, but show how hard it is to get something pure if you
just ignore everything inpure.

> We all make them, Debian on the other hand
> _explicitly_ allows non-free software in its distribution (that you,
> and other Debian developer, simply try to redefine what constitues the
> system just to justify the inclusion of non-free software is far worse
> than by error including non-free software).

Debian ships an operating system, which is supposed to be 100% free,
and does so quite good, with of course the obvious errors and problems,
like sometime slipping some non-free program here or there, or like
in the current case some large amount of non-free documentation).
It also distributes some additions to this Debian Distribution.

Those additions are clearly seperated, so noone is lured into using it.
You either have to actually download files from a "non-free" in its
name or modify some file manually to also look for "non-free" software.
There is no need to play funny DNS names.

If you think it is bad to aim at a 100% free operating system (and
reaching it quite well) and offering additional support so that even 
people not able to live in a purist world can have to advantages of
free-software, I can do nothing against that. I can only repeat that
my priorities are to help people, especialy by enabling them to use
free software.

	Bernhard R. Link

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