Defining Free Software Business

MJ Ray mjr at
Tue Jun 27 22:35:29 UTC 2006

Yavor Doganov <yavor at>
> [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.]

Maybe not.  I think this often happens with weakly-moderated
lists.  Many debian lists are weakly-moderated and it seems a
shame that this one seems to be going the same way.  I'll try
to stick to things to which I can add new data.

> Let me rephrase it then.  I've often heard the following excuse for
> the presence of the `non-free' and `contrib' sections: [...]

Different problem.  I've often heard that FS supporters are lazy
and rude (from for example) but it doesn't make
it true.  If you believe everything people tell you, then I've
got a load of scrap metal in downtown Paris for sale to you.
( )

> [...] This indicates an improper notion of `free software',
> but you may think otherwise, of course.

Thanks. I do. IMO, it is improper to claim software == programs.
"We can't depend for the long run on distinguishing one
bitstream from another in order to figure out which rules
apply." -- Eben Moglen, Free Software and the Death of Copyright

> As a user, I cannot take this statement for granted, I don't
> agree.

Sure.  Take nothing for granted.  Find bugs.  This isn't a bug 
in debian, IMO.  It does exactly what it says on the tin.

[debian's FDL position statement after 2006/vote_001]
> Actually, the practical implication following that vote is that only
> the documentation of the GNU packages is removed from main.

Not quite, but it was a pretty bad effect IMO.

> 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.

It can't be proved because it's not true, which is another reason
that amendment shouldn't win.  Others use those options, such as

Some even abuse them to make the whole document uneditable, like
or even some GNU maintainers until debian developers noticed
is interesting.  Another FDL-misuse repaired with debian's
help in

There are many more similar, if you look for them.

> I agree with this and thus I see
> the results of the vote as an act of hostility. 

So I hope you no longer see it as an act of hostility, now that
I have explained why you shouldn't agree that only FSF will
exploit Invariant Sections.  I hope that the decision would
have been the same whether FDL was from FSF or ASF or BASF.

Personally, I think FSF got extra-friendly treatment, with
years spent trying to negotiate before that vote was taken.

> 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. 

You may have noticed, we tried to do that before voting on FDL.

> 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
> mistaken.

Removing software which isn't free software doesn't make
the distribution less free.  Maybe less useful to some.

[sun-java5 in non-free]
> 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?

Any DD can send to that list and sometimes it's off-topic.

> Why there was such a hype in the blogosphere?

I hope it caused a storm because it was an ugly error of
judgement, but I don't know why anything hypes in the

> (I agree, some were unhappy.)  Why it sneaked so quickly in the archive?

AIUI, the DPL and two ftpmasters ignored usual debian policy
and kept it secret in order to meet Sun's deadline.  See

> > 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.

Sure, and it wasn't a serious example, but please don't accuse
the debian project of hiding things when it's one of the most
open things in our community.

> > "your licencing policy"?  Alex Hudson [...]
> There is a misunderstanding. [...]

Seems so.  Thanks,
Laux nur mia opinio: vidu
Bv sekvu

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