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[[!meta title="Debian votes on the status of non-free"]]
[[!meta author="Daniel Silverstone"]]
[[!meta date="2004-03-14 22:35:00 +0000"]]
[[!tag converted-badly-from-textile old-livejournal]]

Several people have been speaking about the current
<a       href="http://www.uk.debian.org/vote/2004/vote_002">non-free
vote</a> going on in Debian. I feel that perhaps the people talking
about it have been presenting a somewhat one-sided view of the issue and
I think I’d like to make a note of my opinion and the reasoning behind
my decision to vote to reaffirm Debian’s commitment to providing the
non-free section of the archive. I live, and work, with many Debian
<b>users</b>. The very people that Debian exists in order to provide
for. Perhaps many people in Debian believe that it exists only for those
whose views on Free Software (Or Open Source Software, Or FLOSS, or
whatever you want to call it today) are such that the mere thought of
using non-free software sends them into paroxysms of evangelism about
the dangers of not being able to read the source code of software. I
would love to know if those who think Debian should not carry a non-free
section, in order to support those of our users who **need** a bit of
software which the community can not yet provide a suitable alternative
to, whether or not they run their free software on open hardware running
free firmware using only free software in every part of their lives. If
they don’t ~~- then perhaps they should consider that there might be a
place for non-free software in the <em>Universal Operating System</em> I
expect some people will attack me for that opinion~~- that I shouldn’t
“perpetuate” non-free software by refusing to boycott it ~~- but
ultimately I believe that I will use the best piece of software to solve
the issue that I have at hand. If that software is non-free then it
loses some “points” as it were, but that won’t necessarily prevent it
from being the best solution for the problem in my eyes. Now it happens
that for the most part, I find that GNU/Linux operating systems are
often the best solution to computing problems, indeed that Debian
GNU/Linux has rarely failed me in terms of the operating system of
choice… <i><b>But</b></i> I also feel it’s important to note that the
best PDF reader I have available to me on my computer is, in my opinion,
<a       href="http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html">Acrobat
Reader</a>, the best version control system I have available to me is
<a href="http://www.perforce.com/">Perforce</a> , the best vector
graphics package is <a       href="http://www.xara.com/">Xara X</a>
which of course needs Windows and thus
<a href="http://www.vmware.com/">Vmware</a> as the best virtualising
tool. And the best operating system my for my parents’ computer? Windows
2000 of course. Then again, I am informed that Debian’s new release
won’t release with an installation system which will allow users to use
non-free software by default anyway. Indeed Joey Hess says:
<blockquote>But also secondly because regardless of the outcome of
this GR, the sarge installation will not ask about including non-free in
sources.list, and only users well-versed in using Debian will notice,
care, or modify sources.list manually to include
it.</blockquote><br>Now I thought that Joey’s main remit was the
<a       href="http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/">debian-installer</a>
system. The bit of the system which asks about non-free in Woody appears
to be
<a       href="http://packages.debian.org/base-config">base-config</a>
which afaict isn’t Joey’s domain but rather that of the entire Debian
Boot team. <em>Then again, it looks like the entire of Debian’s
Boot/Installer team defer almost entirely to Joey~~- it’s good to have a
charismatic leader who can make a large team pull together, but that
doesn’t make it good to follow them unquestioningly</em> <small>(For
those of you reading this posting on Planet-Debian or similar
syndication systems, please consider visiting the Livejournal page
linked to this posting and make your opinions known. Read what others
have to say, and let others know what you think.)</small>