About the “condorcet” votes

I just saw the vote of NOKUBI Takatsugu who posted it by error on debian-vote.

The vote ranked “Further discussion” second just after his preferred option. I find such a vote too *strong*. This vote really means “My option or none”, or in other words: I don’t want any compromise (which is quite strange given that his first option is the “compromise” option).

I believe that we should vote with the aim to have a winner in the end and as such we should avoid putting something below “Further discussion”. IMO the only valid reason to put something below is if that option would hurt Debian in one’s own opinion.

Just rank the options in your order of preference. I ranked “Further Discussion” last, it’s my way of accepting the diverging opinions within our project.

(So there’s nothing personal against Takatsugu, I just took the opportunity of his little mistake to point out something I find important)

BTW, if you haven’t voted, please do. Even if you don’t care about the outcome, vote and leave all the fields empty (or rank them equally), that way you’ll express that you’re happy whatever the outcome is and you won’t be part of a silent majority. And the outcome of the vote will be stronger.

This leads me to the following question: I wonder if we shouldn’t require DD to vote and if they don’t participate in 2 or 3 consecutive votes, they shall be considered by the MIA team… it would be a kind of implicit “ping of maintainers”.

Update: FYI, Takatsugu thanked me by private mail for the explanation and will recast another vote.

Yes I do

I want to respond to jb’s cry, after all I’m his favorite teletubby and his message is full of references to events where I’m involved. I’m sure he’s honest in his message but still he misses some points.

Julien says :

we never agreed to be nice to each other

That’s true I’m part of several other associations and I never had to sign a paper saying that I’ll be nice with others. Nevertheless, each time that someone misbehaved he was sanctionned. And nobody in the club took the defense of the faulty person in the name of “free speech”. Understand me, if we didn’t have any problem, I wouldn’t make efforts to define a “Code of conduct”.

I’m not a fan of “Ubuntu’s love here, love there” and I certainly don’t want a world of friendly clones within Debian. I believe there’s room for a code of conduct that would let us work together in a friendly manner.

this project used to be open-minded

Being open-minded applies to people not to a project. Now it’s time that you discover that with 1000 people you have far more chance than with 200 to have several narrow-minded people in the set … and that everyone has his own definition of what open-minded means.

That’s why we need to write down what’s acceptable and what’s not. I’ve heard you several times complain about the behaviour of other Debian developers, why not use the opportunity offered by a code of conduct to define how we should aim to work together ?

We are doing it all for fun

True again ! So how difficult is it to imagine that being insulted is *not* fun ? And since we’re all volunteers, there’s no good reason to let some people kill the fun out of it…

I don’t use kill-files

That’s because you have the luck to have a thick skin. I avoid kill files as well. But look at Lars Wirzenius, look at Theodore Y. Ts’o, they all recognize that they can’t stand the level of unfriendliness that we sometimes reach. I want to be able to work with everyone and not only with those who have leather instead of skin.

Help tell those people to FOAD

Is that your way of being open minded ? Ok, it’s a bit out of context but nevertheless, there’s some truth in my criticism:

  • Stop yelling each time that someone mentions Ubuntu, Debian is not Ubuntu but we have so many things in common that we can both take advantages of what the other is doing.
  • Even if you have a thick skin, it’s not a reason to be harsh with any other Debian developer, not everybody is like you !

And to finish this (long) post, let’s agree on something: yes we’re a technical community, yes we should put Debian’s interests first !

(By the way, on this subject it looks like I agree with MJ Ray. It doesn’t happen very often! ;-))

aj President ! aj President !

Congrats Anthony for trying out #debian-tech !

At least you’re not only speaking, but you’re actually making things happen. And you’re consistent in what you’re doing. That’s something we have in common, we have both worked on several projects that we formulated on platforms for the DPL election.

None of us got elected, but at least we contributed useful things back because we promised to work on it. :-)

I wish we had more people like you in the project.

Pragmatism in Debian

First time I’m doing ping-pong on a blog … but I need to respond to MJ Ray and I can’t leave comments on his bog.

He’s worried that I’m using the word “pragmatism” to defend my ideas. He also defines himself as pragmatist… and that’s right. Most of us choosed free software because that was the best option for us. We’re all pragmatists in that sense.

Part of this common pragmatism is to be able to fix things when they go wrong. Right. However pragmastism doesn’t mean that we should be able to fix things where nothing can go wrong.

What do you want to fix in the Firefox logo ? in its name ?

Of course, that doesn’t apply to firmwares, they may contain bugs and we might be interested to fix them. However removing them serves no purpose : users don’t have working drivers, and free replacements won’t appear just because we decided to remove them.

Pragmatist means that *we compose at best with what currently exists*. You can’t take into account “uncertain future outcomes”. We take what works now and if something better (in terms of freeness and in terms of quality) comes later then we replace it. We can’t anticipate with what’s going to happen.

That’s my vision of pragmatism applied to Debian. That’s why I believe my proposal makes sense. I do not propose to include arbitrary non-free stuff but only things which are __useful__ to existing free software. I’m happy to discuss further how to define more precisely the scope of “useful” in the above sentence.

More on DFSG

This was expected. One of the most radical Debianer (Mj Ray) tried to contradict the arguments I gave in my previous post about the original meaning of point #8 of the DFSG. And clearly without historical background, the interpretation of that point can lead to confusion. (Hint for Matthew: That’s why arguing with him is worthless right now.)

Can we then try to correct the formulation of the DFSG to avoid problems like the one we have now ?

I don’t have a patch ready for proposal but I can explain quickly what I have in mind. And if I get some support I may even try to draft a general resolution…

Contents (possibly non-free) which would serve the purpose of a free work and which are freely redistributable could be accepted into main together with the free work in question.

Of course the limitations of those “contents” would be documented in the copyright file of the package.

This idea solves all our current problems :

  • with trademarked names and logo : we can use them;
  • with firmwares : clearly firmware are non-free contents that serve the purpose of free drivers;
  • with GFDL document with invariant section : the invariant section is non-free content serving the purpose of the free software documented.

Would this exception be a disservice to our users ? I don’t think so.

For the pragmatic point of view it’s clearly a win, we can keep the names of well-branded software, we can have drivers working out of the box and we can keep the most valuable documentation we actually have.

From the philisophical point of view it may look like a step backwards, but it’s not. Non-free content is only accepted if it serves the purpose of a free work. And I used the term “content” on purpose, a “program” would not qualify as “content”. Otherwise a non-free software enhancing a free software could have been accepted. But clearly that’s a no-no. We’re about “free software” and that’s what matter for us, so we do our best to spread them and this may require to distribute them together with useful non-free contents.

We probably also need to write a special documentation describing in more length the spirit in which each point of the DFSG has been written and clarify with recent history what is commonly accepted behing each buzzword (i.e. “work” can be program, textual content, multimedia content. and other points like this one). But that’s for later I bet.

DFSG point #8 and Mozilla Firefox

Eric Dorland (the maintainer of mozilla-firefox) is wondering if he can use the name Firefox for his package and still respect the DFSG.

His reasoning is that we can call it Mozilla Firefox only because we’re Debian and DFSG point #8 forbids the license to be Debian specific. So he wonders if the trademark license complies with the DFSG.

His reasoning has many flaws :

  1. The DFSG has been written with software license in mind and not trademark license (argument defended by Wouter Verhelst).
  2. His interpretation of the point #8 of the DFSG is too strict compared to the original purpose of that point (see my mail and this one from Matthew Garrett).
  3. His logical conclusion is not coherent with our goal to serve our users (cf. opinion from Anthony Towns). It would be a disservice to our users to include Firefox with a different name.

Firefox included in Debian with its original name is still free software – DFSG compliant – (Eric recognizes that himself) and that has always been enough for us to accept to include a software. Nothing more is required.

Isn’t that enough to make it clear that we can and should include Firefox with its original name ? It’s not against our principles and we’re not breaking any of our rules.

The Mozilla Foundation has good reasons to try to protect his name just like we did when we asked the “TrustedDebian” project to rename itself in order to avoid confusion with us. Their trademark license is perfectly acceptable and we should accept it because we applied a similar one to our own trademark!

Our priorities are our users and free software

I think that we forgot this when we made the last set of “editorial changes” to the DFSG. We remembered a bit with the general resolution postponing the changes until after the release of sarge… now sarge is getting close and we’re going to face the problems that we created.

I hear more and more Debian developers who are disappointed by this move, some are leaving, others are considering to leave. I’m too attached to Debian to be able to leave, I’d rather make Debian change again because I also think we have made the wrong choice.

We have many derived distributions which enhances Debian in a way or in another, we shouldn’t make their life more complicated by making changes that they will have to undo just to have a working system.

Even forgetting about the derived distros (which are an important part of Debian IMO), our users deserve a working system right after the installation. We have two solutions: either change our policy so that apt-get points to non-free by default and let packages from main depend on packages from non-free so that the required bits of non-free can be automatically installed, or change again our rules so that we can keep those essential bits were it makes sense (in main directly).

The first solution makes no sense because of the nature of non-free: we have so many different licenses of packages in non-free that it’s difficult to know which packages can be distributed. So the only real solution is to stay in the old situation: apply DFSG to the software only and keep useful things in main until a free replacement is available.

Feedback is welcome… because the only way to make this change happen is to propose a new general resolution.

I vote for …

Two years ago I recommended to vote for Martin Michlmayr because I was much more involved in the internal politics of Debian and because I was a candidate 3 years ago … nowadays I’m less involved and I’m voting based on what I’ve read: the platforms, some mails on debian-vote, the interviews on Linux Weekly News and the logs of the IRC Debate. I must say, it’s a difficult exercise for a busy person. It took me many hours… but I’ve done it because I wanted to vote without randomly choosing.

It looks like not everyone did the same effort, otherwise I can’t understand how some people forgot to put Jonathan Walters below “None of the above” (thanks to the people who send their replies to debian-vote instead of the good mail alias). Jonathan is a good Debian developer but that’s all. As a leader, he wouldn’t give us a good image. Of course, it’s just my opinion. You’re free not to share it.

Coming back to the subject, who did I vote for ? Anthony Towns is placed first on my ballot. I think he’s the most pragmatic candidate this year. He knows how things work within Debian, he knows what doesn’t work. All the candidates agree that lists have become unpleasant places and that we should remember that we’re all in Debian because __working for Debian is fun__. Anthony proposes a drastic solution (rules for banning noisy people and so on), it’s possibly too much but it’s worth trying. A first step would be to write a [Code of Conduct](http://www.ubuntulinux.org/community/conduct/document_view) like Ubuntu has: it’s quite effective there, anytime someone starts a new troll someone responds by “please stop that and read the code of conduct”, and the thread dies there. This will be difficult for Debian because we have so many people used to react quickly… but temporary bans for people who can’t refrain would be incitative.

Branden Robinson is still not very well placed on my ballot even if he’s no more the same anti-french guy he used to be in the past :-). His way of behaving reminds me too much of real politicians: he discards hot subjects (no reaction to the rebuttal of Anthony Towns), he says he doesn’t know if he will represent himself unless 100 people support him, etc.

All the other candidates are much like clones… good Debian developers with good ideas, it’s difficult to choose between them. I put Matthew in second position on my ballot without many reasons. It’s just that I have a good feeling, maybe because of his involvement in documenting the work of teams like the ftpmasters.

BTW, I do not like the idea of the SCUD team. The leader must delegate what he can’t do, there’s no need for him to have co-leaders. Or maybe the SCUD team is good idea but it doesn’t need to be formalized… and advertised as such. The leader naturally has people who advise him.

Last remark, I’d like to know who Martin Michlmayr votes for this year.