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Re: [gNewSense-users] What part of Debian is nonfree?

From: Michael Dorrington
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] What part of Debian is nonfree?
Date: Thu, 04 Aug 2011 09:06:37 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20110704 Icedove/3.0.11

On 22/05/11 11:25, Michael Dorrington wrote:
> On 15/05/11 04:55, Karl Goetz wrote:
> <snip>
>>> There is more information at
>>> but I think the Debian entry needs to be redone.
>> I'm curious, why do you think that?
> Mike.
> Proud FSF Member #9429

Posting for "Quiliro". Lame.

=== Is Debian a good Free Software choice? ===
MFS believes Debian a good Free Software choice, but the FSF's
officially stated position is that it is not, see the
[ FSF's - Explaining
Why We Don't Endorse Other Systems].

MFS holds that Debian a good Free Software choice because:
* The installer for Debian is completely free software.
* The Debian installer installs a completely free software system
including the kernel.
* The Debian installer installed system is configured to only use the
'main' repository, the completely free software repository.
* Debian has a [ "Social Contract"
with the Free Software Community].

'''All this means if you want to use a completely free software system
then Debian is good choice.'''

We dispute some statements about Debian in the
[ FSF's - Explaining
Why We Don't Endorse Other Systems]:

* The article states that "users would be hard-pressed to make a
distinction" between the repositories containing non-free software from
those only free software. We don't think that the user would be
hard-pressed to make the distinction. Only 'main' is configured on
install and the user has to alter their sources to include other
repositories. The default graphical program for altering sources is
"Software Sources" and uses the following description:
[ ] Officially supported (main)
[ ] DFSG-compatible Software with Non-Free Dependencies (contrib)
[ ] Non-DFSG-compatible Software (non-free)
* The article also states that people can learn about non-free software
"browsing Debian's online package database". In the online package
database search, packages that are non-free software, or would cause
non-free software to be installed, are labelled as non-free, or contrib,
with a link to explain about them. Using the normal methods of install
(such as apt-get, aptitude, synaptic, Software Centre) these packages
won't be displayed or be installable unless the user has manually
altered their sources.

We recommend that the FSF alter their entry on Debian to something like:

* 'Debian main' from Squeeze onwards is fairly close to passing the
Guidelines for Free System Distributions] possibly only falling down on
"What would be unacceptable is for the documentation to give people
instructions for installing a nonfree program on the system,"

* The Debian installer is free software and configures only the free
software repository called 'main'. Using the Debian installer (without
supplying any non-free firmware yourself) will result in a completely
free software system including the kernel.

* Debian hosts non-free software (non-free) and software that depends
non-free software (contrib). A user needs to manually configure these
repositories and the system makes it clear that installing software from
these will result in the user installing non-free software.

* Debian's main website, wiki and software from 'main' detail non-free
software. The use of non-free software is not actively encouraged or


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