[Arm-netbook] Debian GNU/Linux, nonfree software, and FSF's free distros list

Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton lkcl at lkcl.net
Sun Oct 16 08:00:24 BST 2016

On 10/16/16, Philip Hands <phil at hands.com> wrote:
> "J.B. Nicholson" <jbn at forestfield.org> writes:
>> Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton wrote:
>>> they're doing the best that they believe they can do, but they _have_
>>> been told.  see joey hess's very public description of the Debian
>>> Charter as a "toxic document".
>> I've seen https://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2014/11/msg00174.html
>> where
>> Hess makes this statement but I haven't seen anything written by Hess
>> clearly explaining why the Debian Constitution is "toxic".
>> Where would I find something written by Hess clearly explaining why the
>> Debian Constitution is "toxic"?
> Yes, it was the Debian Constitution he was referring to.  I'm not really
> sure why this is relevant to the discussion of free software, but I

 i'm beginning to appreciate that everything we're doing boils down to
the extremely rare combination of applying ethics to software.  where
we decide to "draw the line" on those ethics is where various groups
involved in free software (and "open source") is where we differ.

> suspect that Luke is conflating it with the Social Contract, and calling
> it "Debian Charter" which is ... not a thing.

 yes.  thanks for clarifying.  so much to do, covering so many things,
i can't possibly recall all the details at the time that they're
needed, so thank you.

> I think Joey was saying that the constitutions existence has resulted in
> some people having endless discussions about the internal structures of
> Debian, rather than getting on with something useful instead.
> It has absolutely nothing to do with what Luke seems to be suggesting.
> As for the non-free thing and the FSF -- changing things would require
> Debian to consider that to be a good idea, which was certainly not the
> case in 2004:
>   https://www.debian.org/vote/2004/vote_002
> I doubt that opinion has changed.
> Claiming that is related to being unethical, rather than a result of
> people having differing proprieties, strikes me as rather childish.
> On this laptop, I note that I have 4 packages installed from "non-free".
> One is firmware-iwlwifi, and the other 3 are GFDL licensed docs with
> invariant sections.  I suppose I could buy another wifi card (perhaps
> one with the same chipset, with the same firmware, in a ROM?).

 or one where the source code of the firmware is entirely libre.

> Then I could chuck the old card into landfill for an "ethical" outcome.

 indeed. ha.  i like the irony of throwing the old one away.

you could view that action (replacing the card) as being one of
convenience.  thinkpenguin have a stack of available cards (just for
goodness sake get the right one.... there's a "standard" that isn't
actually a standard..)

 apologies for explaining this if you're already aware of it phil (i'm
explaining for other people's benefit) but if you got one of those
cards, then when you next come to upgrade, you like many people who
buy thinkpenguin's products that "just work", any issues with the
nonfree firmware being incompatible with the kernel as it was being
upgraded (or other similar issues) would *not happen*.

 this "software libre is actually about taking away the stress and
inconvenience" is something that i really did not appreciate until
chris explained thinkpenguin's business model to me.

 chris worked for linspire as a QA engineer.  he got to see first-hand
that linspire's chances of ever being a pre-installed OS shipped out
by default along-side (or instead of) Windows was utterly negligeable.
that there was no chance whatsoever of winmodems working on
linux-based distros, and so on.

 thus he formed the idea to *pre-vet* hardware and *only* sell a
comprehensive range of *pre-tested* products that have full libre
firmware (if any is required at all).  as a result, he continues to
support 15-year-old distros to this day, and supplies *one percent* of
the world's WIFI dongles, which is an amazing achievement for a
company that only employs three people.


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