Comment on "Nine Attitude Problems in Free and Open Source Software"

Yavor Doganov yavor at
Thu Oct 23 21:15:45 UTC 2008

Noah Slater wrote:
> Ubuntu aims for popularity, Debian aims for freedom.

I disagree strongly.  Both aim for popularity, but Debian still
try to maintain their old reputation for a distro that cares about

If they really did, they would immediately remove the non-free blobs
from the Linux/FreeBSD kernels, GLX and the contrib/non-free archives
in the first place.  But they are afraid that users will flock to
other distros, so this is really about popularity.  Removing an
innocent RFC or a perfectly free GNU manual does not have this effect
(simply because only a small subset of the users read documentation),
so they happily cripple packages by removing the docs.

Compare this with gNewSense, where drivers depending on non-free
firmware are removed completely (not ideal, but still better than
shipping them as they are), and it took them a few weeks to remove GLX
entirely [1] once they became aware of the issue.  The Debian project
acknowledged the problem about five years ago, but nobody proceeded
with the removal.  Why?  Because it's all about popularity; if they
had the will to be a fully free distro they'd do it.

> cf. the differences between Open Source and Free Software

Inappropriate and wrong comparison.  The last GR that reaffirmed the
non-free archive confirms that the majority of the Debian Developers
are supporters of the open source campaign.  No free software activist
would willingly endorse distribution of non-free software.

Don't get me wrong, I know for sure that some people in Debian care
about freedom.  But they are not the majority.

[1] Of course, with the bad effect of leaving many RC bugs -- lots of
packages do not work, and many of them can be adapted to work or
removed.  This would be handled perfectly in Debian, it's just that
the gNS folks don't have the manpower and in general maintaining a
fully free distro as a derivative is a fundamentally broken concept.

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