Defining Free Software Business

Alex Hudson home at
Tue Jun 27 13:47:23 UTC 2006

On Tue, 2006-06-27 at 16:30 +0300, Kaloian Doganov wrote:
> Indeed, one can act unethically (in Debian Project's case --
> distributing proprietary software to users) without a clear and obvious
> motive.  I really do not understand Debian Project's motivation to
> organize unethical activities, but unfortunately, they do not convert to
> ethical ones just by this reason.

There is a plainly obvious motive: providing software that users require
and for which there is no free alternative.

It's pretty easy to see the work Debian is doing in non-free:

A large proportion of these applications are there because of
disagreements/misunderstandings of licensing conditions. Debian is
working actively to resolve these so that the applications are genuinely
free software; look down the 'Resolution' column at the number of apps
that are being properly relicensed thanks to Debian.

Another significant proportion is stuff that the FSF wouldn't consider
non-free software (eg., GFDL documents, other data [game files?]

I understand totally why the FSF feel they cannot endorse the Debian
distribution, due to the project also distributing a small amount of
non-free software. I don't understand a reaction like the above: until
_all_ proprietary software in the world is gone, free software has to
work alongside it and there will be users who require it. We should be
encouraging people to use free software whenever possible, and
understanding that it isn't always the case that it is possible.

I think the work that Debian does in removing non-free dependencies and
transitioning apps from non-free to main is to be wholly applauded. I've
no idea how much stuff that actually is, but I keep seeing big swathes
of Java apps move in that direction, and I think that's excellent.



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