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Re: [gNewSense-users] more on firefox and one possible fix]

From: Bake Timmon
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] more on firefox and one possible fix]
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2006 02:27:11 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux)

address@hidden writes:

> On the other hand I am not sure that Canonical's Debian clone is the best
> basis for an entirely free GNU/Linux distribution and the Mozilla Firefox
> case is just illustrating a problem that most likely will appear in
> similar ways later. Managing a free Firefox solution in gNewSense could
> become complicated. I suppose the GNU and Debian effort will end up in one
> common project -- Iceweasel.  With a little chance this might merge into
> Ubuntu after a while and then easily be picked up by gNewSense. The
> problem is predicting and controlling the situation. Even if gNewSense  is
> or want to be free, it depends on the Ubuntu repositories, which is less
> free and possibly will go further in that non-freeish direction in order
> to keep a 'user-friendly' and popular profile (an important aspect of the
> Ubuntu hype and the 'Open $ource' trend).

This issue cannot go undiscussed--it's a much more important problem
to resolve than, say, whether to remove wine, etc.  The harm you
suggest is not just in maintenance but also in public image and will
worsen due to Ubuntu's focus on popularity with *inevitable* compromise.

Consider again the contrast in public image.  As hugely important as
Firefox is, Canonical just caved in.  (Did they even debate it?)
Debian *stood alone* and acted on principles.  The result was far, far
more than Iceweasel: Debian gained even greater respect in the wider
community as the "leader".  Controversy and all manner of healthy
debate erupted.  (Note that Debian's nonfree problem is not from a
lack of debate--Debian people are notoriously nitpicky.)  Ubuntu's
focus simply does not permit it the "luxuries" of Debian.  Please
correct me if I am missing something about Ubuntu.

gns inspires the highest expectation--on the FSF kind of level.  Who
else should you associate with?

Consider the typical gns newbie in the future.  As they learn, they
will inevitably look "upstream" to Debian or to Ubuntu online docs,
mailing lists, etc.  I will tell you now the Ubuntu web site leaves a
bad taste in my mouth compared to Debian's, from a free software POV.
See for yourself and please tell me I am wrong.

Finally, here is a telling irony.  gns contains packages like
glibc-doc, which contains files packaged in Debian nonfree!  (The docs
are nonfree because of Debian's position on the GFDL--a position I
assume gns differs with.)  This is the very kind of distinction that I
feel the Ubuntu people are decreasing capable of making--not a good
sign IMHO.

Have the differing Debian and Ubuntu *project directions* been
carefully assessed?  Can anyone give a rationale for Ubuntu over
Debian?  (Debian has secondary advantages I did not mention.)


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