Defining Free Software Business

MJ Ray mjr at
Tue Jun 27 01:07:50 UTC 2006

Yavor Doganov <yavor at>
> I don't know, but how can you explain that the present DPL Anthony
> Towns suggested the amendment for reaffirming the non-free section
> [1], while at the same time proposing the original "Why the GFDL is
> not suitable for Debian main" [2]? 

Maybe Anthony Towns wants it on the mirrors but not in the
operating system.  I don't know.  If anyone wants someone to
argue that Anthony Towns is a poor DPL, I'm there already, but
- as noted from the NM discussions - "strong" free software
supporters are a shrinking fraction of debian developers and that
gets reflected in the choice of DPL and other key decisions.
I think this constant stream of negativity from some FSF
supporters is a large reason for that: don't recommend it any
more, criticise its 100% free software aim, say it can't be
trusted, and so on.  That's a great way to discourage free
software supporters from debian development and a fantastic
recruiting sergeant for the failed "Open Source" initiative.
Then you can criticise debian for being too many "Open Source"
people and too few FSFphiles.  Self-fulfilling prophecy, yay(!)

debian is the major distribution the most strongly committed
to free software, but doesn't get any credit for it in this
audience.  As long as that continues, I suspect debian will
drift towards technical superiority views more than freedom.
If you want to change that, get more freedom supporters to
engage with debian.  It's the best show in town for now.

(Sort of amusing that it seems to be some of the same people
arguing /against/ negative labelling of businesses that do the
negative labelling of debian...)

> How can you explain that the
> Debian Project Secretary Manoj Srivastava thinks that the project is
> providing a free (as in beer) [3] service and is providing as an
> "add-on" (I'd call that freedom-substract-on) the non-free archive?
> [3]

Neither "as in beer" nor "add-on" are in that email.  I am
surprised that anyone can read Manoj Srivastava's thoughts.

> It seems that there is a hostility towards FSF and the understandable
> desire to prove that "We know much better about freedom than you"
> issue. [...]

Personally, I'm not hostile towards FSF but I am frustrated by
it sometimes.  The FDL debacle, the opaque GPLv3 consultation
and other things like that.

Some of its misguided heavy-booted supporters, on the other hand...

> majority of people in Debian that are concerned about the "freedom"
> issues (I intentionally put it in quotes), are concerned to continue
> distributing non-free software.

For that decision, we start with the set of all debian developers.
Then, take the subset F of those who will actively support FSF,
as this is labelled as an FSF-support topic every time it appears.
Then, take the subset N of those who don't think non-free
should be on the debian mirrors.
That's who will vote for removal.  A subset of a subset.
It is impossible to make subset N larger and win the vote
by attacking subset F and making it get smaller and smaller.
Congratulations: you are defeating yourself.

> (Hint for Mark, a.k.a. MJ Ray, who
> will most probably disagree: just follow the infamous Sun Java thread
> at -devel and the GFDL threads at -vote and -legal).

I don't disagree, but I think your tactic is a losing one,
as described above.  Sorry your prediction was wrong.

MJ Ray is my name, not an aka, and it's a bit rude to send
personal asides to mailing lists (it's called "grandstanding").
Also, if you had read those threads, you would have noticed
my participation in them and not told me to follow them.
Finally, I've mentioned the contents of one of them already in
this discussion, so you've clearly not even been reading this
thread properly!
MJ Ray - personal email, see
Work:  Jabber/SIP ask

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