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

MJ Ray mjr at
Fri Oct 24 08:33:18 UTC 2008

Yavor Doganov <yavor at> wrote:
> [...] Debian still try to maintain their old reputation for a distro
> that cares about freedom.
> 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.

I think we're worried that we'll be abandoning our users if we stop
supporting hardware that we (buggily) supported in the last release.
While free software is point 1 of the social contract, point 4 gives
users the same status.  This is about honour more than 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.

Rather, others have happily crippled packages by putting the docs
under licences that are incompatible with free software, while the
debian project tries to deal with the resulting mess as best it can.

> Compare this with gNewSense, where drivers depending on non-free
> firmware are removed completely [...]

gNewSense has the luxuries of starting with a clean slate and no users.
I admire what they're doing and thank everyone who's helping them, but
I prefer fixing to forking.

> > 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.

Huh?  The GR didn't mention
the open source campaign at all.

> No free software activist
> would willingly endorse distribution of non-free software.

Clearly, we've 304 activists who did.

Hope that clarifies,
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