Andreas Barth wrote:

> Ji,
> 
> I'm not entirly happy with this proposal. One change is a large
> change: Is all in Debian Software or not? This of course has impact on
> the whole document, but is a seperate issue from the wording.
This is, in Andrew's proposal, basically an issue of wording.

(Admittedly, it's a separate issue from the *rest* of the wording, and it's
a rather important piece of wording given the arguments it caused.)  I'll
take this opportunity to repeat the reason I call it a matter of wording.

The current statement is:

>> 1. Debian Will Remain 100% Free Software
This states that everything in Debian is software, and futhermore that
everything in Debian is free.

>> 1. Debian will remain 100% free
This states that everything in Debian is free.

Software is a contested word; does it mean "programs", "programs and
accompanying documentation", or "any stream of bits" (i.e. "not hardware")?
The third definition is
  * the historically accurate one
  * what the writers of the Social Contract meant
  * the only one which allows packages such as anarchism to be in Debian
  * the only one which avoids the impossible problem of determining what's a
"program" and what's not (since there are far too many things which are
unclear, and even ASCII files are in some sense 'programs').

If you accept the third definition, then the only substantive change is that 
we allow for the possibility that at some time in the future the Debian
distribution may contain hardware.  (And why not?)

Whether or not you accept the third definition, however, you still get to
this same conclusion: everything is either
(1) software, in which case it must satisfy the DFSG to be in Debian
(2) not software, in which case it must be removed from Debian

Either way, everything in Debian must satisfy the DFSG currently, and that
doesn't change with Andrew's amendment; it just eliminates all the stupid
arguments over the meaning of "software".  Since it's all about a word,
it's a matter of wording.

Approximately the same analysis applies to every other place where
"software" was removed; there are precisely the same requirements for
things in Debian as there used to be. (Except that theoretically someone
might somehow add free hardware to Debian.)

Unfortunately, there have been a *lot* of these stupid arguments over the
meaning of "software", and they've occasionally been used as an excuse for
including non-DFSG-free works in "main".  Or, on the other hand, for
removing the King James Bible text from Debian.

I would not be surprised if an alternative proposal was made to specifically
*allow* non-DFSG-free works in Debian if they're not "programs".  (I would
find this very disappointing -- a betrayal of Debian's principles.)  It
would also be quite unsurprising to see a alternative proposal to declare
explicitly that Debian will never contain anything but "programs".  (This
would be disappointing because so much useful DFSG-free stuff would be
thrown out of Debian.  These would also both be bad proposals because of
the lack of clarity as to what is a 'program'.)  

Those are the alternative interpretations I've heard -- I think they're both
definitely wrong, for the reasons given above, and most people who've
listened to the reasons seem to agree (which is why there is debian-legal
consensus on the issue), but they are alternative (wrong) interpretations. 
Codifying one of the interpretations -- one supported by a 3:1
supermajority of developers -- is the only way to prevent this particular
class of flamewars from going on forever.

That is, to put it simply, the "must-change" case for the amendment -- to
stop these stupid arguments.

>> We provide the guidelines that we use to determine if a work is "free"
>> in the document entitled "The Debian Free Software Guidelines". We
>> promise that the Debian system and all its components will be free
>> according to these guidelines. We will support people who create or
>> use both free and non-free works on Debian. We will never make the
>> system require the use of a non-free component.
> 
> Well, IMHO the old version is much nicer. The social contract _should_
> in my opinion have some nice, not too technical start. A promise is a
> very good start, and I'd like to keep that there.
You have a point.  Andrew's version is clearer, but less stylish.  How about
this?

We promise that the Debian system and all its components will be free; we
provide the guidelines that we use to determine if a work is "free"
in the document entitled "The Debian Free Software Guidelines".
We will support people who create or
use both free and non-free works on Debian. We will never make the
system require the use of a non-free component.

> In the second sentence, I'd like to keep the word "below", as the DFSG
> _are_ a part of the SC.
Today's debate over matters of total insignificance: Are the DFSG part of
the SC or are they a separate document?  Why do people care, given that the
same modification rules apply to both of them if they're separate, and the
same importance is given to both of them?

> The current third sentence is (at least in my opinion) much more nicer
> said then the new proposal. So, I'd like to just take the sentence:
>> We provide the guidelines that we use to determine if a
>> work is "free" in the document entitled "The Debian Free Software
>> Guidelines" below.
> as replacement of the current second sentence, and leave the first
> chapter as it is now.
Reasonable.  But I understand Andrew's intent was clarification, so perhaps
he could explain again why his other changes make things clearer?  :-)

>> 2. We Will Give Back to the Free Software Community
>> 
>> When we write new components of the Debian system, we will license
>> them as free software. We will make the best system we can, so that
>> free software will be widely distributed and used. We will feed back
>> bug-fixes, improvements, user requests, etc. to the "upstream" authors
>> of software included in our system.
>  
>> 2. We will give back to the free software community
>> 
>> When we create new components for the Debian system, we will license
>> them in a manner consistent with the Debian Free Software Guidelines.
>> We will make the best system we can, so that free works will be widely
>> distributed and used.  We will communicate things such as bug fixes,
>> improvements and user requests to the "upstream" authors of works
>> included in our system.
> 
> well, the new first sentence sound for me just a bit too bureocratic
The reference to the DFSG is a point of clarification, I suppose.
> (I'm indifferent with s/write/create/).
Create is better -- not all components are "written". (Do you write a
picture? No, you draw a picture.)

> "things such as" doesn't sound
> too good english to me.
It's perfectly good English; it's just really vague and non-specific. 
"etc." isn't technically English at all (it's Latin), and it's also vague
and non-specific, so, well, whatever.  :-P

> I'm indifferent with the other changes, but I'm still looking for a
> "must change"-cause for the whole proposal, because
> 
>                  If it's not broken, then don't fix it.
Well, see above for what I think is the must-change reason.  Hope it helps

> Cheers,
> Andi

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