[sf-lug] sf-lug Digest, Vol 23, Issue 30

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Oct 18 10:44:17 PDT 2007

Quoting Alex Kleider (a_kleider at yahoo.com):

> I'm assuming that "main" , "contrib" and "non-free"  are all parameters
> that are independent of each other and simply specify which (in this
> case all three) repositories to search. Correct?

Which _collections_ within the specified repository, yes.

The "main" collection is Debian proper.  All packages are DFSG-free
(have licensing satisfying the Debian Free Software Guidelines), and 
also depend only on things that are DFSG-free.  There are some at least
temporary exceptions for some documentation and some firmware images for
hardware drivers, etc.  (Believe me, we don't want to go there.)

The "non-free" collection comprises all packages not under DFSG-free
licensing, but that nonetheless are lawful for Debian to redistrubte
in ways that comply with Debian Policy, e.g., with all the pieces in the
correct directories.  (Some other frequently requested software either
cannot lawfully be redistributed by Debian at all, or only under
conditions that would have violated Debian Policy.  Occasionally, you
will find unofficial repositories for such software that offer
.deb-packaged vversions.  If you trust the packager, you are welcome to
add lines to /etc/apt/sources.list to draw pacakges from the related
unofficial repository.)

The "contrib" collection comprises package that themselves are under
DFSG-free licences, but depend on other packages (libraries, etc.) that
are not.  Yes, the name "contrib" is confusing, but coming up with a
better name has so far proven to be a difficult problem.

Typical installer programs for Debian (such as the Official Debian
installer images) will ask you whether you wish to include "contrib" and
"non-free" in your /etc/apt/sources.list file, or not.  If you say "no",
then you get only "main".

More information about the sf-lug mailing list