Ok, so everything minus 1 in blag is Free Software: you can get the source code, modify it, redistribute it, etc.
The one non-Free package is w32codec. Theses are codecs that allow people to play audio/video that is commonly available on the 'net. I always included this one because I believed it was important for Free Communication to be able to view the vast majority of video on the 'net.
Awhile back I had an email discussion with Richard Stallman (RMS) about BLAG's inclusion of w32codec. Here's some snippets:
"BLAG works to overthrow corporate control of information and technology through community action and spreading Free Software"
I like the spirit, but...
BLAG does commit a sin though. It isn't 100% Free Software. It includes various audio & video codecs.
That is very disappointing. Although the name respects the GNUProject, not all of the contents respect the users' freedom.
For a moment there I was hoping that the FSF could recommend BLAG, but we cannot do so as long as it contains non-free software.
The practice of using the non-free codecs is one of the major obstacles that free software faces, and the only way to surmount it is for people to start pushing back. The strategy you've adopted on this front is one of surrender.
However, I think we should not miss the opportunity to educate the public about the need to change their practices and stop using those formats. We need to look for opportunities to do that.
Perhaps you can start by having a facility for users to do this, but before they get to it, they should see a page that explains why the use of these formats is a harmful practice and asking them to try to change. What do you think about that?
Another one everyone wants is Flash, which I loathe. But I was thinking of just writing a simple script that would pop up, say why Flash (& now w32codecs) is rotten bad bad bad, but still allow people to download them via apt-get from some non-blag repository.
Saying this software is bad is better than what you are doing now, but it would still fall short of what is good. Flash is a place where we importantly need to push back.
How about writing a simple application that helps people send complaints to the webmaster of a site which has Flash on it? If it can do something to scan the site for an email address to send to, that would be useful. It could have heuristics to find pages for contacting or responding to the site.
Another part of our discussion was the source code. Right now, they are just available via http/ftp. But the GPL requires that anyone sending out CDs also make the source CD available. So what I want to do is make an ISO image of SRPMS and make a http://www.blagblagblag.org/redistribute/
page that explicitly lists the requirements for redistributing CDs. Note, if you send out a CD you don't /have/ to send out the source code too--you only have to do it if requested.
Anyway, so what do you all think of w32codec? I think the best approach is to /not/ include them, make sure blag is always 100% Free Software, and make some wrapper type program that says "you are doing something bad bad bad" and have it grab w32codec from freshrpms or dag.
I have many thoughts this issue but the only ones I can give out in public are STOP THEINSANITY ;)
we all like free software..we know the reverse is the bane of our existance..but we are also realists or at least SOME of us are living in the real world not some oblique fantasy realm. We need those non-free codecs you love to hate because without them 'my freedom to view and listen to content is restricted'. What about that dont you understand ? ;)
I advocate ogg/theora, but read my lips stallman etal..ATM THEY ARE NOT THE STANDARD, therefore we must give people the choice .
I am doing my best to make a ogg/theora friendly site and I reccommend others do the same, but until that is in everyhome and used on all websites we dont have a choice IF we want to allow people the freedom to view content even if it gives some of us a royal headache.