Defining Free Software Business

Yavor Doganov yavor at
Tue Jun 27 15:25:45 UTC 2006

[I have the bitter feeling that we're going in circles, something so
typical for a Debian mailing list.  I don't think that we both can add
something useful to the discussion.]

On Tue, 27 Jun 2006 15:21:39 +0100, MJ Ray wrote:

> debian does not hide this, unlike some other distributions.
> That is another promise: "We will not hide problems."
> It would be unacceptable to hide it, but it isn't hidden,
> so save the disgust for those who merit it.

Let me rephrase it then.  I've often heard the following excuse for
the presence of the `non-free' and `contrib' sections: "Our priorities
are our users, our users want non-free software, so we're giving it to
them.  We're fulfilling the promise we gave in the SC."

> 2006/vote_001 was a position statement, not advice to others.

OK.  A statement that the GNU FDL with Invariant Sections is non-free
and that even without them is not free of trouble.  This indicates an
improper notion of `free software', but you may think otherwise, of
course.  As a user, I cannot take this statement for granted, I don't

> Not sure whether it's consensus and trying to determine that
> is rather irrelevant following the position statement.  I
> still can't see why the source and DRM parts are acceptable,
> but I can't change that decision for the whole project.

Actually, the practical implication following that vote is that only
the documentation of the GNU packages is removed from main.  Anton
Zinoviev, the original proposer of "GFDL is fully compatible with
DFSG" (which, needless to say, should have won) mentioned that the
"Invariant Sections" option of the licence is going to be used only by
the FSF, but he can't prove that.  I agree with this and thus I see
the results of the vote as an act of hostility.  Debian just wanted to
do this anyway, it was not campaign for freedom -- otherwise you could
have started by removing the *really* non-free bits.  If you think
that now that the GNU Emacs Manual and other GNU documentation is not
in main, you've made the distribution more free, you're seriously

>> [...] at debian-devel-announce there is an announcement of the
>> *absolutely the same non-free as it was* Java and some developers are
>> happy about the inclusion in the archive!
> Some other developers are very unhappy, but the best advice was
> that certain developers have put themselves at risk, not the
> project, so it's not something many want to work against directly.
> Why waste time working on non-free software?

If `non-free' is not part of Debian, why this announcement went on the
official ML, the only one that DDs are obliged to be subscribed to?
Why there was such a hype in the blogosphere?  (I agree, some were
unhappy.)  Why it sneaked so quickly in the archive?

> One cannot observe most of FSF's actions.  Its funds
> could be mainly used buying Lotus Notes for distributing
> Microsoft Word macro games, for all most of us know.

I hope that you are not seriously meaning what you wrote here.  Don't
confuse freedom with democracy.

> It should be possible to do both, but you don't reverse any
> such trend by attacking the "stand firm" developers.  Enough
> already seem to be leaving the project, for various reasons,
> without extra abuse.

I didn't mean to abuse anyone, including you, a fellow GNUstepper.  I
think that the Debian Project is doing enough for abusing themselves;
the actions speak much better than any words.

>> [...] I always
>> wondered why we don't strongly object against your licencing policy
>> while the BSD community had always fiercly opposed the GPL.
> "your licencing policy"?  Alex Hudson was not a debian developer
> last I knew, although I'd more than welcome it.

There is a misunderstanding.  Alex Hudson wrote: "The BSD community
also don't think the GPL is 100% free. We'll always have these
disagreements.", so I thought that he's part of the BSD community.  I
didn't mean Debian at all (as far as I know, there is no such
licencing policy in Debian).

JID: doganov at

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