how I voted on non-free and why

I have not been participating or reading enormous and flamey threads about non-free on the Debian mailing lists. If the point of those threads is to change anyone's mind on the issue, then they have failed. The point of this post is not to change anyone's mind either, just to record part of the content of my own.

I voted in favour of asuffield's proposal to amend the social contract and drop non-free from the Debian archive, even though I do not believe that a vote is the best way to effect change in Debian. I believe this change will happen if people step forward to do it, regardless of the outcome of the general resolution, which I expect will probably fail.

I support removing non-free because I believe that:

a) In sarge, it will not be useful to the majority of our users. First because the majority of our users no longer need software from non-free to productively use the Debian system. 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. If they do so modify it then they can just as easily add supplimental apt sources outside of Debian. And, experience suggests that many of these users will. So the outcome of this GR is irrelevant to most of our users.

b) The continued divisive and hurtful discussion of this issue is harmful to Debian, as is our continued estrangement from the FSF over distributing non-free software. The only way to stop the issue from harming Debian is to settle it once and for all, and the only effective way to do that is to drop non-free. For unfortunatly, if the GR does not pass, and non-free remains in the archive, the discussion will at best die down only to resurface again in a few years. Therefore, even if I didn't belive in a), I would still belive it was in Debian's best interests to drop non-free.

Note that if I am wrong about point a), then we can expect to see many complaints from our users when sarge is released. Current indications based on the reports of sarge installation beta testers are that we will not see such complaints. Most users do not notice that non-free software in unavailable on their installs of sarge.

Unfortunatly, I do believe that this resulution will probably fail. It may receive a majority of the votes, but will probably not attain its required 3:1 majority. If that happens I hope that effort to split non-free out to a separate project will still continue. If it does I will support it by removing the packages I maintain from non-free and moving them to the new archive.