[arch-dev-public] Definition of non-free for repo-reorg

Jan de Groot jan at jgc.homeip.net
Thu Jul 12 17:24:51 EDT 2007

On Thu, 2007-07-12 at 14:05 -0700, Jason Chu wrote:
> Sadly, there are people out there who really do think like this.
> They're
> like RMS fan boys and will only install software that is GPL or BSD
> licensed.
> I think people are more afraid of pulling in non-free dependencies
> though.
> Some people are really anal that way.

I refuse to support any software that doesn't come with source. Why? you
would ask...

Everytime we get bugreports about crashing X servers or locking kernels,
it's those damn nvidia or ati modules which are non-free. Nvidia and ATI
don't seem to do anything about it, the only option you have is to up or
downgrade packages. We can't debug it, but we get the bugreports. It's
not the first time an xorg release was pushed back because of these
shitty modules (Xorg 7.1, anyone? it happens with xorg-server 1.3.0
again now)

Then another thing. Some things have distribution restrictions. We're
telling all the time that we can't ship it on DVD, but did you think
about exporting it from FTP? That's also distributing, we're not called
a linux DISTRIBUTION for nothing. These packages shouldn't even be in
the repos.

Then there's "ask permission for distribution" packages. So we ask
permission, we get it with a bunch of exceptions, then someone forks
arch, or starts a port to another architecture (archppc). We made a
distribution deal, but the people who fork don't have permission to do
so. Then there's also (un)official mirrors, does the distribution
agreement validate on their mirror?

Then we have the part where free packages can depend on non-free
packages. Mplayer and xine depending on codecs, which is a binary blob
without source and these DLLs are even illegal in many countries (the
DLLs come from several commercial codecs without distribution license,
and if they have, the license says we're not allowed to modify... guess
what, these DLLs are modified to run on linux). So people who don't want
these illegal codecs have to pacman -Rd it everytime and hope mplayer
and xine don't break because they miss codecs that were there on
compilation time.

IMHO we should do something about the handling of non-free software in
our distribution. If we keep doing things this way, sooner or later
we'll run into legal problems.

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