The Debian project distributes software packages via its archive, propagated through a network of mirrors. This archive is organised in three areas, main, that contains the Debian system, and contrib and non-free, that contain accessory packages that are not Free. The packages in non-free contain files that have a proprietary license. The source packages in contrib contain only Free files, but produce binary packages that are either useless without the access to remote services, or contain non-Free files, or cause the installation of non-Free materials.

The contrib area is an endless source of discussions, as it is not always easy to draw the line between what is usable and what is useless without remote services. I wonder if it would be better to replace the contrib area by a new priority level, “remote”, lower than extra. Packages that are entirely Free (source and binary) and that do not cause the installation of proprietary software would be fit for main. For the packages that can not function without non-Free software, given that the work to be done to free them is the same regardless whether the proprietary code is included in the source package (in non-free) or not (in contrib), I think that in both cases the package should be in non-free as it is not Free in practice.

This would allow for a simple criterion: does the selection of a binary package trigger the installation of non-Free files? If yes, the package and its source belong to non-free. If not, they belong to main. Then, if they need to access a remote service that would not be possible to set up on a network where only Debian is available, their priority would be remote.