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

From: Andrew Wigglesworth
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] more on firefox and one possible fix]
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2006 13:38:53 +0000
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On Monday 20 November 2006 07:27, Bake Timmon wrote:
> 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.)
> Thanks,
> Bake

What should gNS associate itself with?  That's easy to answer, free software.

The use of Ubuntu should not be brought down to some whimsical take on this 
weeks news.  It should be a technical decision on what is best for producing 
a 100% free software GNU/Linux distribution from free software on limited 

Both Debian and Ubuntu distribute non-free software, and I'm not interested in 
a bunfight between factions of Debian and Ubuntu users.  The parts of Ubuntu 
that are used ARE Free Software and ARE well supported with security patches 
etc by Ubuntu. 

I understand that there were many reasons for the use of Ubuntu Dapper, not 
least of which must have been the need to make some sort of decision where to 
start in the first place.  Would you have started with Debian Sarge (you 
know, XFree86 4.3 etc) that was already over a year old (and feature frozen 
well before that) in July 2006?

I don't think we should use gNS itself as a weapon in the internal disputes in 
other GNU/Linux distributions, it would bring us ill will for no real gain.  
The very existence of gNS and it's firm stance on Free Software is enough.

We need to increase the technical abilities of our community, create our own 
documentation and many other things, not be diverted into fruitless arguments 
over which is the prettiest shade of grey.


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