This Intent To Package posting
guaranteed to raise a bit of a fuss. The program involved is hot-babe
, a graphical CPU
utilization monitor. It works by displaying a typical Bruno Bellamy drawing
minimally-clad, maximally-endowed woman. As the CPU gets busier ("hotter"), the woman
undresses to compensate. Your editor, whose journalistic ethics required
that he investigate this utility, found it to be an amusing addition to the
desktop - for about five minutes, or until the children walk in, whichever
The Debian developers raised the obvious, predictable objection to
the inclusion of this utility: the associated images were covered by a
Once that little issue was cleared up (the artist made the drawings
available under the Artistic License), the way was cleared for the other
predictable argument: should a utility seen by some as pornographic be part
of the Debian distribution? On the face of it, there would appear to be
little basis for keeping it out. The Debian standards for software require
that it be free; there is nothing in the software guidelines or
social contract about not being offensive to anybody.
There is no doubt that inclusion of hot-babe into Debian is asking for
certain kinds of trouble. The imagery involved is no worse than that found
on many European billboards, but it will go against many American
"community standards" and is completely out of line by the standards of
many other parts of the world. Including hot-babe in Debian will render
the distribution unsafe for work environments in many places, will
complicate the work of those trying to deploy it in libraries and schools,
and will simply offend a certain number of the distribution's users.
Then again, the same could be said of fortunes-off,
James Bible, or the Anarchist
FAQ, all of which are already part of Debian. Some people are probably
offended by fsck, Doom, or the emacs Zippy quotes file. Your
editor, offended by illegible text, immediately and violently disables
"color ls" on every system he installs. Creating
an offense-free distribution can be a hard task even for companies which
adopt that goal explicitly; it's pretty much impossible for a
distribution which values freedom, and which has dedicated itself to
becoming the biggest collection of free software around.
Unless the Debian Project changes its social contract to allow the
exclusion of packages on moral grounds, tools like hot-babe will find a
home there. Debian is, increasingly, the master repository for a family of
distributions; it should probably be as inclusive as possible. Most of the
distributions built on top of Debian, such as Linspire, Xandros, Skolelinux, LinEx, or Ubuntu, apply some discretion in the
packages they select. They are unlikely to include tools like hot-babe,
and, thus, may be considered safer versions to use in situations where
somebody may get offended.
Well, OK, perhaps we can't be too sure with Ubuntu.
Linux developers and distributors clearly must be sensitive to the needs
and feelings of their users. The needs that come first and foremost for
Debian users are freedom and quality. Applying any other sort of filter to
Debian would change that distribution in a fundamental way.
The nice thing about Linux is that distributions can be made for a wide
variety of audiences. A safe-for-schools version of Debian can be
distributed without imposing additional standards on Debian itself. Linux
can be configured to meet the tastes, morals, and standards of almost any
group of users, without inflicting those standards on others. That is
freedom at its best, and how it should be.
Except that your editor really would like to see color ls abolished
to post comments)