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Debian Etch out with a new leader

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memenode's picture
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So Etch is finally out, and luckily after less time than it took Sarge to be released. With it, they have elected a new project leader, Sam Hocevar. He has some quite exciting plans for Debian and I wish him success with it. Debian really deserves an overhaul and there are some things which I agree could really be changed to the better and to be friendlier without compromising the existing Debian values.

However, I'm a bit curious about this new guy. While this is no indication and I'll probably sound too paranoid for mentioning it, on his intro page he is linking to this picture calling himself a "Serious Sam", which is a name of the popular croatian *proprietary* FPS game. Well it's probably just a joke, but he also called FSF control freaks later in his intro, although I don't know much about the case he is talking about there.

So I guess it might be a stupid insinuation, but again I'm just curious. Does anyone know more about Sam? Do you think he is a good person to lead Debian and do you think there is a chance that he will pressure debian in a less Free Software friendly way (more compromises for the sake of looking good to the mainstream and such, as ESR advocates for example)?

Thanks

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dylunio's picture
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I do not know more than is

I do not know more than is out on his site and his platform, though I just thought the image link was nothing more than a lark. Reading his platform, rebuttles and some of the other candidates' platforms I thought it sounded quite good. I am very much the outsider here though, having never managed to install a working copy of Debian, but I do read p.d.n and news sites to know it has had a rough time of late as a distribution, and I think Sam had good ideas to fix them and keep the project rolling.

As for the FSF control freakery, from what I have read about egcs/gcc I generally agree with him. There have been problems with the GNU project with over protectiveness of projects etc. in the past, though I think it is better now.

I do not see Debian compremising on the Free Software stance, it is too entrenched. If he tried to put proprietary software or the like in it would be a disaster for Debian imho as it would lead to massive infighting. I believe Sam wants Debian to survive not to kill it off. We must remember also that Debian is even more 'Free' than the FSF in some regards, as it does not deem the GFDL as a Free license.

memenode's picture
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Alright, that's pretty much

Alright, that's pretty much what I thought too.

About Debian being more free that pulls a topic which can be discussed at great lenghts I think. You could say BSD is a "more free" license than GNU GPL because it doesn't have protective restrictions, but I don't think that is true all around.

GFDL might have some glitches, but I believe they'll be resolved in its next versions.

When I think about it a bit, I would say that saying Debian is more Free than FSF is actually quite vague. If both projects have freedom as the primary goal then you could only say, by your own opinion, that one or the other has managed to go further to achieve such goals. But when you take into account both projects all around, I don't think Debian comes out any more freedom bearing than FSF.

But FSF is not a distribution and when you compare Debian and gNewSense for example, in terms of freeness I think gNewSense wins. Eye

Thank you

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dylunio's picture
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libervisco wrote:

About Debian being more free that pulls a topic which can be discussed at great lenghts I think. You could say BSD is a "more free" license than GNU GPL because it doesn't have protective restrictions, but I don't think that is true all around.

Yes we could start counting the numbers of angels on the heads of pins - the definition of Freedom can be very vauge, though I do think the 4 freedoms sufice as an explination. It is down to personal taste as it were.

Quote:

GFDL might have some glitches, but I believe they'll be resolved in its next versions.

My understanding that the glitches Debian sees in it are featurs in the eyes of the FSF :-P As I have not read deeply about it I will take the stance that Debian is being a bit paranoid in regards to this license.

Quote:

When I think about it a bit, I would say that saying Debian is more Free than FSF is actually quite vague. If both projects have freedom as the primary goal then you could only say, by your own opinion, that one or the other has managed to go further to achieve such goals. But when you take into account both projects all around, I don't think Debian comes out any more freedom bearing than FSF.

I did put 'Free' in single quotation marks (I think that is the right word) for a reason, as both organisations deffinitions are slightly different. The FSF does not list Debian as a 'Free distro' for example.

Quote:

But FSF is not a distribution and when you compare Debian and gNewSense for example, in terms of freeness I think gNewSense wins. Eye

Indeed the FSF is not a distribution, and I am sure gNewSense would win in terms of freeness against Debian.

dylunio

memenode's picture
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Well we're more or less in

Well we're more or less in agreement. The differences seem more like semantics than anything else.

dylunio wrote:

I did put 'Free' in single quotation marks (I think that is the right word) for a reason, as both organisations deffinitions are slightly different. The FSF does not list Debian as a 'Free distro' for example.

True, though the reason FSF and RMS say why they don't recommend as a fully free distro is because they maintain a non-free repository. Otherwise it is acceptable to them and they even use it for their own servers. Smiling

Oh well, bottom line; Sam may indeed be a good person for the job. If he is succesful at achieving his vision, I think interesting and awesome times are ahead for all Debian lovers. And Debian really is such a crucial distribution for the Free Software world.

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the thing that makes debian

the thing that makes debian less free than gNewSense is the non-free repository, which is precisely the reason it's not promoted by the FSF.

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Debian

I fired off a long winded e-mail to Sam asking about this. Hopefully he'll allow me to post his words here.. If not, I'll paraphrase.

However, I think that the context of the "control freaks" comment are not so much about Free Software but coding. I think he is referring to the GNU project's (past?) reluctance to accept new code or coders, which happened with the egcs/gcc thing which he mentioned he was involved in.

The huge difference between gNewSense and Debian is not the non-free sections, it is the kernel, IMO. While i certainly consider Debian "second best" and "good enough", they do allow binary blobs for the sake of hardware support, which is actually the norm.

gNewSense considers a freedom impacting bug to be release critical.

While I love the FSF and what they stand for, I'll have to argue that the GFDL CAN be a non-Free license. Even the gNewSense project recognizes this and CLEARLY states that they release under GFDL WITHOUT invariant sections.

dylunio's picture
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Kevin Dean wrote:

The huge difference between gNewSense and Debian is not the non-free sections, it is the kernel, IMO. While i certainly consider Debian "second best" and "good enough", they do allow binary blobs for the sake of hardware support, which is actually the norm.

I was under the impression that the binary blobs were also put in non-free, though as I do not use debian I may very well be wrong.

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Yes and no... It's

Yes and no... It's considered non-free, a "bug" because it violates the Debian Social Contract and the DFSG.

But it was still released, with the core distro. You don't have to enable the non-free repos to get binary blobs. The reasons cited were fair... changing the kernel "so close" to release time would have hurt the release in an "unacceptable" way. So this bug was allowed to ship.

It is the same way in ALL of the distros... The vanilla Linux kernel is non-free by gNewSense standards because it includes the blobs. The ati driver, that offers Radeons 3D acelleration with "Free Software" only also contains such a "blob"; uncommented ATI microcode. gNewSense removed that as well.

If there were to be a huge difference, I would say that gNewsense doesn't care about licenses... They take every package and apply the 4 freedom test. If a package passes those tests, it's Free Software. If not, it is removed. This process has removed a few GPL packages that other distros ship, and don't have issues with because it's GPL... Despite the fact that it can't reasonably be edited in source form.

memenode's picture
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Looks like gNewSense really

Looks like gNewSense really is most strict about these things.

The issue with the ATI microcode blob is hardly clear. It's a gray area just as many of other GPL or BSD blobs which may be missing an editable bit.

Of course it's another thing when a certain piece of code is clearly licensed as proprietary.

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Actually, a DFSG violation

Actually, a DFSG violation in main or contrib should be considered an RC bug... am I mistaken ? And Release-critical bugs should be considered to be, well, critical when it comes to releasing...

well, I didn't follow this so I can't say much.

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“I just don't want to eat an animal that's standing there inviting me to,” said Arthur. “it's heartless.”
“Better than eating an animal that doesn't want to be eaten,” said Zaphod.

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