[Objection to vote-0006]
Negative Summary of the Split Proposal, by Jason Gunthorpe
This text is a negative response to the non-free split proposal currently being deliberated by the Debian Project. It attempts to summarize the concerns voiced by some developers. Only concerns that were left largely unresolved by discussion are presented here as 'facts' and observations about what other consequences the proposal will have. Please see the Debian-Vote archives for the full discussions. The Proposal is Counter to the Social Contract ~~~ ~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~ ~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~ The proposal may violate the spirit of section 5 of the Social Contract <https://www.debian.org/social_contract> which says that non-free and contrib are not a part of The Debian Distribution but that Debian will use its resources to support them as a service to its users. Section 4 also clearly states that Debian's first priority is to its users and the free software community. In short, this argument rests on the assumption that separating non-free and contrib onto another server will make it harder for our users and would thus violate Section 4 and/or 5. It is Only the Start.. ~~ ~~ ~~~~ ~~~ ~~~~~~~ A few paranoid people feel that separation would only be the start of a larger campaign to distance the non-free software from Debian. Already the APT author has agreed to remove non-free and contrib from the default source list and some of the Archive Masters have indicated that they would give the new non-free upload queue a lower priority than non-free software currently enjoys. When RMS first brought up this idea he was also keen to not only separate non-free but to make it so that the users could not accidently discover it and consider it part of the distribution either on the web pages or during the install. Essentially the archive split may mark a change of policy towards reduced support of non-free/contrib packages. Too Specific ~~~ ~~~~~~~~ The proposal does not set any sort of general rule but addresses a single problem with a single site. Even after voting the question will still remain if anything should be done with non-us, the web site and other places the contain references that may confuse users about the separation that exists. It addresses a single technical problem and it does not address the larger issues of Debian's support of non-free software that is not part of The Debian Distribution. Does it Really Matter? ~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~ Ultimately the proposal is based on the assumption that users are/will be confused by the proximity of the non-free packages to the main archive. This is really impossible to prove either way so it has represented a point of contention. Several people suggest that non-free.debian.org is no more clear than debian/dists/unstable/non-free and that tools like APT (which already indicates if the package is main/contrib/non-free) make the change all but pointless. Since any mirrors of the new non-free archive will likely also mirror debian proper it becomes even more questionable if anything has been accomplished by this. Cost ~~~~ As stated the proposal will require a separate machine for hosting the new non-free archive with bandwidth able to handle an excess of 3G per day. This will require Debian to solicit sponsorship and purchase hardware or place more load other machines to support this increase in bandwidth. In all likely hood the new non-free.debian.org machine would also contain a mirror of the main archive and serve as a master.non-free.debian.org. Since we would be removing non-free from the main archive an alternate mirror network would have to be arranged and new mirrors setup and our users informed of them. With nearly 200 mirrors of the main archive this is a non-trivial loss that will be time consuming and difficult to recover from. Many people will have to be involved and some mirror masters may not agree with our decision. Ultimately for this point it is a personal matter of when the cost exceeds the value.