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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] Third-party repositories, debootstrap and transiti

From: bill-auger
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] Third-party repositories, debootstrap and transitivity
Date: Sat, 26 Sep 2020 01:48:24 -0400

Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli wrote:
> In the FSDG[1] I see the following:
> > Nor should the distribution refer to third-party repositories
> > that are not committed to only including free software

most repos of third-party package managers are in that class,
with haskell "cabal" being the notable exception

Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli wrote:
> What does 'refer' means here?  

that wording is unfortunately vague, because of the dual-meanings
of "refer to" in english: "to mention" (ie: "this exists", which
is not necessarily a suggestion or recommendation), and "to
direct toward" (ie: "go there", which is a suggestion) - 
the second meaning is the stronger of the two; because it
obviously implies the first - in it's context, i believe that
sentence is motivating the more specific next sentence:

> Programs in the system should not suggest installing nonfree

that is: the functionality of the software distributed by the
distro, should not provide any special suggestions, or assistance
with the task of locating or installing other non-free software
- most third-party package managers do that; because they index,
and assist with searching for, and installing non-free packages

the topic of third-party package managers has been discussed on
this list in the past[1], and on the parabola bug tracker[2] - i
dont believe that there is any controversy about what should be
done - it is more a matter of resources and contributor time

this, and similar concerns have been discussed more recently on
other channels, and also suggestions for revisions to the FSDG,
to clarify some of the vague terms, and to illuminate some of the
grey-reas, which distros have interpreted in conflicting ways

Jean Louis wrote:
> Guess what, any package manager may be used to install non-free
> software. 
> Also browsers, wget 
> are capable of downloading and fetching non-free software.

generic capability is not the FSDG concern though - `sudo make
install` can install non-free software too - the key
distinction, is whether or not the distro software or
documentation, is suggesting or assisting to do so specifically

Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli wrote:
> Does having nonfree repositories mentioned or not affect them being
> ok?
> More precisely, does someone knows which debootstrap scripts
> should be removed?

regarding debootstrap, the important factor would be if it has
preset configurations that will install non-free packages - if
the unmodified scripts will pull only from debian 'main' by
default, then there is probably no problem

the comment from Marius on the linked thread, blurs that
distinction, suggesting that references to debian are
acceptable, because debian is committed to providing only free
software - the presence of the word "only" in that statement,
without specifying: "debian main", makes it untrue - debian is
also equally committed to providing non-free software; although
in separate repos - merely mentioning the name "debian" or
"ubuntu" is probably not the concern that the FSDG prescribes for
- what is important, is whether the software or documentation of
an FSDG distro suggests or facilitates accessing non-free
software in some explicit way - the operator of the server is not
the salient concept

Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli wrote:
> What if such distributions have free software meant to install nonfree

in that case, the mere existence of that program is necessarily
suggesting to install something non-free - i dont see any
confusion with this point - there are several such examples -
the wine-tools installer is a well-known exemplary one - after
the parabola patches which remove the suggestions to install
non-free programs, there are only a small few items remaining on
it's list of suggestions - if those patches resulted in the
empty set, then that feature of the program would be entirely
useless; and the entire feature would have been patched out -
many games have a similar feature - the 'flashplugin' installer
is an obvious example of one, which is inherently impossible to
rescue, while retaining any functionality at all


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