Several people have been speaking about the current non-free vote 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 users. 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 Universal Operating System 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… But 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, Acrobat Reader, the best version control system I have available to me is Perforce , the best vector graphics package is Xara X which of course needs Windows and thus Vmware 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:
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.
Now I thought that Joey’s main remit was the debian-installer system. The bit of the system which asks about non-free in Woody appears to be base-config which afaict isn’t Joey’s domain but rather that of the entire Debian Boot team. 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 (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.)