Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Linux Business Software Linux

No More BitKeeper Linux 958

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the submission-avalanche dept.
An anonymous reader writes "KernelTrap has a lengthy article detailing BitMover's recent decision to drop support for its free version of BitKeeper. Linus Torvalds began using BitKeeper back in February of 2002, a decision that has resulted in frequent flamefests, but also in increased kernel development productivity. Evidently the recent decision was due to OSDL's decision to keep paying a developer who was working on reverse engineering BitKeeper... What tool Linus will move to is still being determined."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

No More BitKeeper Linux

Comments Filter:
  • Freedom matters (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Concern (819622) * on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:08AM (#12154247) Journal
    Man, remember all those people "flaming" over the freedom of tools on the lists? What was with them, anyway? Aren't they just starting a "religious war?" Who cares if this tool is free. It didn't cost me anything. Those crazy license zealots.

    But wait.

    Now, look what happened. The company (or individual) that was your friend a couple of years ago, decides today that you've offended them. Now they are taking their ball and going home.

    Now you are stuck. You need to replace what they gave you. Oh, it'll cost you: manpower, lost opportunities, potentially a pile of pesos... Get ready for a painful transition. And as annoying and dangerous as this is for source control in mainline kernel development, there are many, many scenarios where this kind of manuevering will screw you much worse - alienating your customers, stranding years of development, the whole works.

    This is why freedom matters.

    And what is BitMover so upset about? That anyone would dare compete with them?

    The audacity!

    Does any vendor of a commercial product have a moral high ground to complain when a competitor appears? And whose problem is it if they are trying to charge money for something other will do for free?
  • Too Obvious Answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:10AM (#12154271) Homepage Journal
    Evidently the recent decision was due to OSDL's decision to keep paying a developer who was working on reverse engineering BitKeeper... What tool Linus will move to is still being determined.

    Considering what has transpired, the obvious choice is subversion [tigris.org]:)

  • by pianoman113 (204449) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:11AM (#12154284) Homepage
    Wow, non-free software vendor decides to drop support for a piece of software leaving their loyal users out in the cold. Thanks BitMover for proving why Linus' decision to rely on a non-free version control system was a mistake.

    How has this left Linux out in the cold? Because he now has to pay to use BitKeeper? What's wrong with that? BitMover feels that OSDL broke faith with them by having a developer who was reverse engineering their product.

    If BK is such hot stuff, then it will be worth some money to Linus. If it isn't, I guess he'll find something else to use.
  • by Wizy (38347) <greggatghc@gmail . c om> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:13AM (#12154297) Journal
    I am all for free and open source software. But can you fault someone for trying to make a profit? Dont you like eating?

    When giving out the free version looks like it will start to HURT the bottom line, as the head a company with employees (who need to get paid) he has to reconsider things.
  • by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:16AM (#12154329) Journal
    Subversion, of course. What else is there? RCS? CVS?

    OSS communities tend to settle on one project, and nothing or noone ever seriously competes with it. Ie; the linux kernel, SAMBA, OO.o, Mozilla, GIMP, eventually either KDE or Gnome (heck, used to be lots of desktops), etc..

    In the source control realm, it seems to be all about subversion. It seems to have the mindshare and community behind it.

  • Re:Bitkeeper (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:16AM (#12154335)
    "If that's what he feels most productive using, what difference does it make?"

    Indeed. If he decided tomorrow that future kernels would all be compiled in Microsoft Visual C++, what would be the problem? After all, it's not as though his choices on tools affect anyone but him, is it?

    Oh, except that all the other developers are forced to either use the same tools he does or find workarounds to allow them to use different tools.

    Personally I've always felt that relying on a payware source control program for kernel development was a big risk, and removed much of the stimulus to create really first-class open source source control programs: I guess that's now been clearly demonstrated. And regardless of who's in the wrong here, I can't help but feel that the Bitkeeper folks are going to lose a lot of sales due to programmers regarding them poorly as a result of this action.
  • Why change? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:17AM (#12154353)
    What's wrong with the free version he already has? Does it require replacement?

    I don't see this as a problem for the time being.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:17AM (#12154354)
    I'm surprised that Larry McVoy advocates collective punishment of a whole community as a good example to follow.

    Does he really think that it is appropriate to transfer a military practice onto a community which supposes to act transparently, democratically (yes, there's a meritocracy, but also democracy) and with respect for individual rights (eg working on private project in their spare time).

    Great way to squash all diversity and enforce group-think.

  • Re:Linus Shminus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mant (578427) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:18AM (#12154364) Homepage

    It is important to other people working on the kernel though.

  • by Sanity (1431) * on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:20AM (#12154385) Homepage Journal
    How has this left Linux out in the cold? Because he now has to pay to use BitKeeper? What's wrong with that?
    Because people were encouraged to rely on BitKeeper on the basis that it was free as in beer, but now it isn't, and migrating to an alternative will undoubtedly be a major burden for the Linux development process.
  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:22AM (#12154417)
    But giving out the free version *wasn't* hurting the bottom line. Starting to charge for the free version isn't going to get the people who were using it to start paying, instead it's likely to get them to find some other tool. It's not like source control packages aren't a dime a dozen...

    In the past developers were exposed to bitkeeper through work on the Linux kernel. Then there was the possibility that through that exposure they would recommend BitKeeper for the proprietary projects they build on top of linux. This model seemed to work well due to the 'open comments' rule. (Anybody using the free version had their commit comments posted for all to see on the bitkeeper website).

    Now there is no high profile exposure for bitkeeper. They're about to lose the best free advertizing they ever had. In two years nobody will be using bitkeeper at all.
  • by Sanity (1431) * on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:23AM (#12154430) Homepage Journal
    BitMover feels that OSDL broke faith with them by having a developer who was reverse engineering their product.
    According to the article the developer wasn't doing this as part of his work for OSDL.
  • Idiots (Score:4, Insightful)

    by b0lt (729408) <b0lt@ls.qc.to> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:23AM (#12154438)
    Doesn't BitMover realize that companies license their products due to Linus using it? Linus's sarcastic comments about BitMover just pushes companies away, as probably intended. Won't that just screw themselves over?

    -b0lt
  • by mattdm (1931) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:24AM (#12154448) Homepage
    Although it may be offtopic, but non-free software vendors aren't the only ones dropping support for popular products and disappointing their loyal users. Mozilla recently did that with Seamonkey, so that they could focus on Firefox.

    Actually, it's very relevant, because it's exactly the point: since Mozilla is open source, if enough people are interested, it's easy for the browser suite version to live on even if the original maintainers are no longer pursuing it. And, it turns out that enough people are, so we get a solid maintainer transition plan and a workable future for Mozilla SeaMonkey [mozilla.org]. No such thing is possible with BitKeeper.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:24AM (#12154456)
    But it's true, linus didn't consider the nature of what he was using and got burned.

    While everyone has a fit when stallman is mentioned, it's true that the people who don't consider the politics of licences are often burned.

    Look at how much MS or Apple have given back to BSD as opposed to how much linux has got from IBM. Who has the better dynamic community of sharing?

    Seriously, there are many reasons FOR the GPL. I am sick of people who aren't political having an allergic reaction to it, while you might not value the reasons for the GPL there *ARE* perfectly legitimate and powerful reasons for believing in it.

    There is tons of hateful propaganda against the GPL. I don't mind the BSD guys* doing what they do, it's cool. I have respect for them. But I don't like the hate that gets sent back. It's one thing not to agree, it's another thing to just characterise other people as "weenies" and "hippies" or whatever.

    *Fully comprehending that there are pro-BSD trolls that don't represent all of BSD community. Just talking about impressions.
  • It's a bit silly to say 'I told you so" - especially since I didn't actually say it. I thought the arguments made by Linus had some logic behind it too (the technical-merrit-before-anything-else approach). Often I thought both sides (Stallman and Linus) had some valuable viewpoint on it, and it was difficult to say who actually was right on the matter.

    It seems now, after all, it was R.Stallman all along. Yes, Linus has a good point in chosing for technical superior alternatives...BUT, in the end, as is clearly shown now, you can't just devide the political/ideological/proprietary issue from the mere technical one. When push comes to shove, an alternative that isn't really free, isn't really an alternative. You are always dependend on the goodwill of whomever owns the product- even when buying it, I may add.

    So, it would seem the viewpoint of Linus, in this instance, is the weaker one, because now he doesn't have a 'tecnological superior' product anymore, and what is he going to do? Go for another proprietary product, because it's technologically better? And have the same thing happen to him again? I don't think so. I think he learned his lesson, and he will go for the really free alternatives that R.Stallman suggested, which, albeit not as good, at least allow you to continue with it as you see fit.

    Stallman can be a nag sometimes because of his gnu/linux diatribe, but in this instance, he was right.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:25AM (#12154463)
    If by best, you mean most condescending, long-winded, repetitive, and self-righteous, I think you win.
    ...Not that the man doesn't have point this time, but I wish he could make it without being so insufferable about it.
  • Big Mistake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmh20002 (637819) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:26AM (#12154469)
    If this is true, BitMover should expect a big financial hit.

    BitKeeper's main claim to fame was that Linus and the kernel folks used it. That's the kind of endorsement that you can't buy for any amount of money. Without that, most people would never even know BitKeeper exists.

    Its a really stupid move. An open source competitor might have taken some of their business, but most of the open source users would probably be using something else free anyway. 90% of corporate customers would rather pay for something. An open source clone would probably validate BitKeeper.

    Not to mention the ill will they will generate.
  • Re:Freedom matters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:29AM (#12154500) Homepage Journal
    I always find it ironic that most of those who flame RMS et al usually argue that they're just being ideological, and all those who disagree "just want to get things done" and "free software 'zealots' are just being impractical".

    Nah. I was won over to free software because it's practical. I've never seen handing your data over to be managed by proprietary software product as "practical".

    I'm kind of bitter that way as I've been using computers for a long time, since the early eighties, and have had too much experience of what happens when proprietary vendors do not support you any longer, even often with no malice intended, as the manufacturers of the Dragon 32, Sinclair QL, and Commodore Amiga can demonstrate. I switched to GNU/Linux. Because it was practical. Because I knew that I didn't have to rely on a third party for support, because I could help others and get the information I need to support others, because no matter what happened, I'd be able to continue with what I had.

    Practical? You bet. Ideological? Perhaps, but only the same way as my dive instructor was "ideological", I mean he was obsessed with safety, obsessed I tell you! All I wanted to do was go down 60 feet and look at coral, but oooooooo noooooh! It's all "Buddy System" and "nitrogen levels" and other stuff.

    Ok, that's facetious. The latter is about life and death. But there's no reason that the less serious nature of proprietary vs open and free should make me unconcerned about the issue.

  • by codepunk (167897) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:31AM (#12154530)
    I guess freedom is actually way more important than function now isn't it.... Had the developers not fallen into the non-free trap a alternative would have already existed by now do to need.
  • Re:Freedom matters (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arkanes (521690) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (senakra)> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:31AM (#12154531) Homepage
    Of course it's reasonable for them to do this. But this is exactly why people didn't want to start using it in the first place - because you become beholden to the goodwill of a third party. That's an uncomfortable spot for anyone to be in, anywhere.

    The fact that Larry is being pissy about a tenuous connection to a third party developer working on a BK alternative just makes him sound like an asshole. It was nice to read his little speech about accepting commercial developers, like any time a company releaases a commercial product for Linux all the OSS guys should cease work on anything to compete with it. That attitude is the whole reason OSS got started in the first place.

  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by caluml (551744) <slashdot.spamgoeshere@calum@org> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:31AM (#12154532) Homepage
    I went to see him speak in Bristol once [wirefree.org]. I can see why people think he is a bit of a nut, ranting, and raving.
    I think it's just that he really, really, really, really believes strongly in what he believes in. And that if you don't understand it, you are somehow stupid/lesser/not worth talking to.
  • hmpf (Score:3, Insightful)

    by N3wsByt3 (758224) <Newsbyte@fr[ ]ethelp.org ['een' in gap]> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:33AM (#12154542) Homepage Journal
    Pitty I have responded in this thread also, or I would mod you up for this post, and down in the one below (which, indeed, was flamebite).

    But you were right in your original assessement. That said, let's not forget that, at least in the former version, Freenet was heavily dependent on suns' java too.

    There IS merit in taking the " only technological superiour" route, only one takes a risk as well, as is shown in this case.

  • by mshiltonj (220311) <mshiltonj@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:33AM (#12154543) Homepage Journal
    ...in the commercial community binary managment is critical. For example, someone may be tracking a 1 MB word document that goes through hundreds of revisions resulting in consuming 1 GB of space.

    That may be the stupidest things I've ever heard. Clearly, Word-formatted documents are the wrong format to be using.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:33AM (#12154544) Homepage Journal
    Well, mine isn't best but I sure want to be counted as an "I told you" on this one too. But it seems like lots of people told him so, and we all got dissed because they said we weren't pragmatic. Well, we were pragmatic, and the folks who thought they were the pragmatic ones weren't thinking through consequences all of the way to the end-game.

    The question is where to go now? My preference would be GNU Arch, as it's more decentralized. But it may not be ready for this heavy a use, and I am hardly an expert in revision control.

    Bruce

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:34AM (#12154553)

    Considering what has transpired, the obvious choice is subversion:)

    I, unlike the rest of these boobs, understood your joke.

  • by Mant (578427) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:34AM (#12154554) Homepage

    If you follow some of the links from the article, it talks about productivity doubling since using BitKeeper.

    Even if there is a cost now moving to something else, it may still work out better in terms of productivity to have used BitKeeper for the three years. Also the use of BitKeeper in Linux seems to encouraged a lot of work on open source alternatives, so they may well be better now than they would have been had BitKeeper not been chosen.

    So from the practical, rather than ideological, point of view, even with dropping it now it may still have been the best choice.

  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:34AM (#12154560)
    Did your grocery store ever offer you free bread and milk? Did they imply that this would be an ongoing offer? Was there ever a concern that your household was becoming dependant on that free bread and milk? And once you did become dependant on that free bread and milk, did your grocery store now demand the 4 bucks because they discovered one of your household members was learning how to bake bread?
  • by drooling-dog (189103) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:35AM (#12154579)
    Another good cannonball in the open-vs-closed source debate. Not only can proprietary software turn around and screw you, it can actually single you out for screwing!
  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:36AM (#12154592)
    Let's hope that the impending avalanche of negativity will influence BitKeeper to reconsider at least a token giveback to the Linux community.

    Let's hope that it doesn't.
  • by Omnifarious (11933) <eric-slash@nOSPaM.omnifarious.org> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:37AM (#12154599) Homepage Journal

    I don't care what a license agreement says, unless you get to look at the source, reverse engineering should be perfectly legal. The progress of science (which is basically just reverse engineering on a grand scale) should not be stopped because it might hurt someone commercially.

    Besides, it's not OSDLs job to enforce Larry McVoy's license agreement for him. Larry could sue the developer if he wanted the developer to stop. If I wrote DeCSS in my spare time, should the movie industry go after me, or my employer? What would you say if the movie industry called the fact that my employer wouldn't fire me a "Breach of faith" on the part of my employer?

  • Re:Freedom matters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Concern (819622) * on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:39AM (#12154629) Journal
    This is a process: the community learning the value of "freedom."

    If I blame anyone, I blame the dismissive people who said this would never happen, and if it did, it wouldn't matter.

    BitMover is doing what's best for BitMover. They had a sexy marketing line with "fake freedom" and it fooled some people. Who do you "blame?" The marketing department? Or the people they convinced?

    This is not a story about a corporation "getting burned" because someone dared to create an open source version of their product. Excuse me, that's called competition, and you can't play that card without being fundamentally against open source, if not all competition.

    This is a story about the dangers of non-free software - dangers that exist for everyone, for AT&T and IBM just as much as for Linux and Gnu hackers.

    I just hope everyone, corporate or otherwise, learns from the experience. If we don't, we can blame ourselves.
  • by mattyrobinson69 (751521) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:39AM (#12154631)
    you mean like linux, freebsd, openbsd, netbsd, etc?

    or maybe openoffice, koffice, abiword (sortof), gnumeric (sortof), etc?

    maybe mozilla, konqueror?

    bochs/qemu?

    bash/sh/csh/tsh?
  • by pianoman113 (204449) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:40AM (#12154644) Homepage
    I certainly hope that the FOSS community can duplicate the features of BK, as it sounds like an excellent tool. But their actions are hardly childish. BitMover did everything in their power to work things out with OSDL, and OSDL was either unable or unwilling to work with them.
    Are you suggesting BitMover should simply roll over and let anyone violate their license? Should PearPC allow CherryOS to get away with violating their license? How are these two situations different?
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@@@monkelectric...com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:41AM (#12154653)
    Is it gloating if you *WERE* right though? The BitKeeper guy, Larry something? Has always been a capital asshole.

    The open source position on this one is not outrageous: they want a client which can't be taken away from them.

    Larry, responds by *TAKING THE CLIENT AWAY* thus proving exactly what people were saying in the first place -- we've indirectly put Larry in a position of power as he controls the only tool we can now use: not only are we ethically opposed to this, but he seems to be a dick to.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:44AM (#12154679)

    If you follow some of the links from the article, it talks about productivity doubling since using BitKeeper.

    I'm not surprised. Linus wasn't using source control before.

    Even if there is a cost now moving to something else, it may still work out better in terms of productivity to have used BitKeeper for the three years.

    Did you ever consider that he might have got a similar productivity boost by switching to a Free source control system instead of BitKeeper?

  • But he is honest (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:44AM (#12154684) Homepage Journal
    McVoy dismisses fundamental Free Software positions, while claiming "this is really an open source community problem and I have to say that the open source community couldn't have failed more than they have."

    He goes on to compare the activities of an individual deleoper to a "bad apple" in the Marine Corps!

    Rhetorical fussilades like this really expose what an unbearable asshole he is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:45AM (#12154698)
    Although BitMover announced that they'll stop developing their free (as in beer) BitKeeper client, there is an open source client to replace it. I don't see what's the big fuss.

    In fact, considering that Linus feels BitKeeper is far superior to anything else out there (including subversion, arch etc.) and has been using the commercial version for ages, why would he stop using it now? It's not like users and other developers cannot access the source code anymore.

    Also, Linus has never been fanatical about using only free software. He has said many times that he prefers the better tool, whether it's free or not. And its his choice.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:45AM (#12154710) Homepage Journal
    I can hardly think any more convincing example of the superiority of OSS than what just happened.

    I think it's a demonstration that Open Source is more dependable. We understood that, but it seems paradoxical to outisders that it is the exclusive rights-holder, the very company that purports to support the software, that reduces dependability.

    Bruce

  • by Wildfire Darkstar (208356) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:46AM (#12154724)

    Are you suggesting BitMover should simply roll over and let anyone violate their license?

    Are you suggesting that OSDL should be responsible for what its employees do while not on the clock?
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@@@monkelectric...com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:47AM (#12154739)
    RMS is a nut, but NUTS ARE GOOD. Bill Gates is *exactly* the opposite kind of nut. If Bill had his way, you'd "subscribe" to software and keep paying for it every month (MS has mentioned this as their ultimate goal). If RMS had his way, software would be open (good), free (good), and nobody would be able to make a living writing software (bad).

    Together they put pressure on each other and arrive at a reasonable medium.

  • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:48AM (#12154749) Journal
    I know there is a group of developers who will continue to maintain Seamonkey. I happen to be one of them.

    However, my point was that ignoring loyal users is not the sole domain of non-free software vendors, as the OP seemed to imply. Even though open-source developers can continue to develop a product after it is no longer supported, it still doesn't make it right.

    Rather than marketshare, software vendors, both open- and closed-source, should be focusing on their loyal customers/users. However, they are managed by business school graduates, to whom, profit is everything.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wizy (38347) <greggatghc@gmail . c om> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:48AM (#12154755) Journal
    I hadnt actually looked at Monotone yet. But from a cursory look at the website it seems to fill a void, or will once it is mature enough.

    The problem I see here is the level of fragmentation in the open source SCM world. Monotone looks like it is designed from the ground up to be distributed. CVS and Subversion were not, but are both much more mature projects on the standalone side. Then you have arch which seems to fit somewhere in the middle. It would be nice to have some of these teams working together since something like a subversion with the distributed nature of monotone is what we really want here.
  • by Muerte2 (121747) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:49AM (#12154759) Homepage
    I've got to imagine that ANY lost revenue due to some guy creating a BK clone has to be offset by the number of additional customers BK must have got because they could claim the linux kernel was one of their clients.

    I can't think of a bigger, more successful, more openly public project than the Linux kernel (maybe Mozilla). That makes a HELL of a bullet point on your marketing brochure. If I'm mom and pop software developer and I'm comparing versioning systems and I see "BK powers the linux kernel" I'm going to know this isn't some silly little program, it's legit.

    I really have to imagine that the linux kernel did more for BK than BK did for the linux kernel.
  • McVoy is an idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by codemachine (245871) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:50AM (#12154777)
    "this is really an open source community problem and I have to say that the open source community couldn't have failed more than they have." He pointed out that as a long-time open source fanatic and the CEO of BitMover, "we represent as open-source friendly a commercial organization as you are *ever* going to see"

    "Unlike the Marine corp, the open source community is more than willing to ignore their bad apples as 'not my problem' (the Marine corp punishes the group for the behavior of the bad apples, pretty soon there are no bad apples)."

    This supposed open source fanatic obviously doesn't have a frickin clue. Comparing OSS developers to the Marine corp makes no sense, as there is no single organization that all OSS programmers belong to. Even if you had the desire to do so, you can't sit and police a group when you have no authority. OSDL quite simply wasn't going to stop doing business with a guy because of what he does in his free time, nor should they have to. It is none of their business, nor is it McVoy's.

    He's got to be delusional if he thinks he's got the most open source friendly commercial organization out there. There are a lot of companies that work in the OSS world without bullying other developers. McVoy has turned his company into a joke amongst the OSS crowd, and will probably promptly run it bankrupt too. And I have to say, it looks good on him.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:50AM (#12154780) Homepage
    Well, mine isn't best but I sure want to be counted as an "I told you" on this one too. But it seems like lots of people told him so, and we all got dissed because they said we weren't pragmatic. Well, we were pragmatic, and the folks who thought they were the pragmatic ones weren't thinking through consequences all of the way to the end-game

    What consequences? Having the kernel be way better than it would have been if Linus had listened to you people and not used BitKeeper?

    Sure, BitKeeper might be going away--but the things Linus accomplished while it was here will NOT go way.

  • by markov_chain (202465) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:52AM (#12154810) Homepage
    It seems now, after all, it was R.Stallman all along.

    Suppose someone lends you a car, and you drive a 1000 miles in a month. That someone shows up and takes the car away because he suddenly stops liking you. Do you say, "Damn, I knew it! We should have kept walking" or "Oh well, at least we made good progress for a month?" How can you ignore the progress the kernel devs made in their process while using bk? Furthermore, it looks like some of the delegation skills that bk forced upon Linus, that sped up kernel development, may actually work with any version control system and thus lead to permanent improvement.
  • Re:Freedom matters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drew (2081) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:52AM (#12154815) Homepage
    i think that most (not all) people would have been a lot calmer about the issue had it not been for the license clause about not working on any competing projects. i can completely understand why somebody who worked on the kernel wouldn't like being told what other projects they could or couldn't work on in their spare time, just as i wouldn't appreciate my work telling me what i could and could not spend ny free time doing.

    anyway, i think he's being a little blind if he thinks his organization is as friendy as any to open source. sure, they're friendly to open source, as long as it isn't competing with them. sorry buddy, that's not the way it works.

    and his comment about marines and disciplining the 'bad apples' is nothing short of ludicrous. it's not up to the free software community to discipline somebody for the decisions they make on how to spend their free time.
  • by KenBot_314 (744719) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:53AM (#12154825)
    Disclaimer: No, I have not RTFA...

    There is no "theft of MitMover's work". The independant contractor in his own free time was working on creating a competing product.

    By your logic, Open Office is stealing the work of MS on its Office suite...

    Further, when I contract with a company, they have NO influence on what side projects I do. I would probably be offended if they even asked me to stop working on a personal project.
  • by sqlrob (173498) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:58AM (#12154891)
    You have less respect for OSDL since they basically said "What an employee does on his own time is his own business?"
  • Re:Freedom matters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:00PM (#12154923) Homepage Journal
    The fact is and remains, that for some people, and in many situations, the burden of switching between proprietary apps is still far, far, far less than the burden and lost productivity and time that is spent on F/OSS applications.
    And in many situations, that is true. And in most situations, it's not important.

    The different between FOSS and proprietary is this: for the former, I don't have to switch. For the latter, I do.

    If Commodore Amiga's operating system had been Free Software, the chances are I'd still be using it today. It would, by now, have a community of developers built around it who would have kept it up to date, ported it to commodity hardware, etc.

    So, to be honest, this kind of argument doesn't impress me. Why, exactly, do I need to switch from sendmail? I don't. I can't envisage needing to any time in the next decade, can you?

    Why did I need to switch from AmigaOS? 'cos it was set in stone. There'd never likely be an update, and even if there was one, I'd be unlikely to obtain it, and it's unlikely it'd ever move forward very far.

  • I'll answer the next three responses here:

    "If you follow some of the links from the article, it talks about productivity doubling since using BitKeeper."

    There is, ofcourse, always the matter that there might be a relation noted, but therefor not a causality. Is there really a heightened production? Is it due to Bitkeeper? Is it *all* due to Bitkeeper?

    Those are reasonable questions, and I think, even the neutral Linus could be biased a bit in this regard, because after all, he has made and kept to this decision for 3 years, contrary to much critique.

    "Even if there is a cost now moving to something else, it may still work out better in terms of productivity to have used BitKeeper for the three years. Also the use of BitKeeper in Linux seems to encouraged a lot of work on open source alternatives, so they may well be better now than they would have been had BitKeeper not been chosen."

    The cost will not be minute, I assure you. Yes, it *might* have been worthwile, but I have problems with this 'might' because it is largely based on speculation. If it really is all that much beneficial, he (Linus) would obviuosly chose another technological superior, yet proprietary system. I doubt that he will, however. Well, we'll see.

    "So from the practical, rather than ideological, point of view, even with dropping it now it may still have been the best choice."

    See above.

    "When you are provided a powerful tool for no cost under the condition that you don't fund the creation of a competing tool based on that technology you are not at the whim of someone's goodwill."

    Ermm...yes, you are. I don't follow you: you just describe a situation where, at least in that instance, you are at the whim, and you claim it's indicative that you aren't? Unless you equal 'whim' with totally unreasonable demands, this makes no sense. however, being depended on the goodwill of someone does not infer being unreasonable: they can have very good reasons (even economical ones are good too, in a sense); but still it remains a fact you are at their mercy.

    "When they approached OSDL and said you have a employee doing this (reverse engineering our technology), please have them stop and OSDL says it's not our problem."

    See above. Besides, reverse engeneering isn't illegal per sé, so they were right to say it's not there problem.

    "Its not like they all of the sudden started says hey OSDL/Linus you now need to start paying for this since you like it. They said we are giving you free access to our tool but you have staff that are now striking at our revenue line, which happens to be how we fund this tool you like. Please have them stop and we will continue to provide this tool."

    That's very amicable (or not) of them, but it still means one is not free to use the tool; thus, one is dependend on their goodwill.

    "When you still thumb your nose at the company who has employees to support and revenue to generate you are only putting them under the gun."

    See above.

    "So based on this evidence you can see this isn't a RS versus Linus issue versus a OSDL taking responsibility issue. If OSDL came back to the table and said Ok, mea culpa, we will make this right then the problem wouldn't be there."

    Yes, it would, since it would still be clear that they are not really free. If they can say 'do not do this" they can say "do not do that" neither. Whether it is reasonable from their perspective or not doesn't enter the picture: it still makes it clear that they can't use the tool totally free.

    "Make Sense?"

    Not really, when you look at it strictly from the viewpoint of whether or not they are delivered to the goodwill of the owners of Bitkeeper. This shows they aren't, whether Bitkeepers owners were reasonable in their demands or not.

    "RMS was not necessarily right. In TFA Linus is quoted as saying "three years of using BitKeeper has made some profound improvements to the workflow""

    I answered this already at th
  • by chris_mahan (256577) <chris.mahan@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:03PM (#12154973) Homepage
    >BitMover wrote their free-use license in such a way that the gratis use of their software would benefit the user and not harm BitMover.

    Benefit the users? By restricting their freedom to create a tool like BitKeeper?

    >What exactly is wrong with that? Its their software, and they don't have to let anyone use it without paying.

    Granted. But they can't lie either. They can lie to politicians and the average american, but they can't lie to geeks. Geeks write things down and have long memories.

    >Why should they allow someone who freeloads to reverse engineer their software?

    If the guy saw the source, he's not reverse engineering, he's copying from memory. If the guy didn't see the source, he's not freeloading.

    Again, tell me how a license between Corp A and Corp B can stop US Citizen C from reverse-engineering something?

  • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:09PM (#12155034) Journal
    Larry noted that the kernel tree will continue to be tracked by BitKeeper, as many kernel developers have been commercially licensing the product for that purpose. This includes employees of many large companies who actively contribute to Linux development such as IBM, Intel, HP, Nokia and Sun as well as many smaller companies.

    I'm not familiar with BitKeeper. Can anyone comment on the possible ramifications of having all these large-scale commercial contributors using a tool that Linus & Co no longer use/have access to?
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HuguesT (84078) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:10PM (#12155045)
    > If RMS had his way, [...] nobody would
    > be able to make a living writing software (bad).

    RMS has himself never said that, in fact he says exactly the opposite. You should read the GNU philosophy pages before spouting such nonsense, in particular this particular aspect [gnu.org].

    The FSF says that you should charge as much as you possibly can for Free software. Redhad in particular is demonstrating this point very well.

    Presumably you know that RHEL is more expensive than Windows yet is distributed under the terms of the GPL, and therefore the freeest form of Free Software according to Stallman.

  • Re:Big Mistake (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jemfinch (94833) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:13PM (#12155096) Homepage
    Its a really stupid move. An open source competitor might have taken some of their business, but most of the open source users would probably be using something else free anyway.


    The Linux Kernel, then, might have moved to that open source competitor. And that would look tons worse than what has actually happened.

    It's like a relationship. Given the choice, you want to break up with your significant other. Such a situation (for social reasons somewhat opaque to me) is far preferable to having your significant other break up with you.

    With this move, BitMover was preemptively "breaking up" with Linux, before Linux had a chance to do the same.

    Jeremy
  • by Reliant-1864 (530256) <sabarokaresh@yahooTWAIN.ca minus author> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:14PM (#12155108)
    A lot of employees have been fired for what they do in their spare time. They might not be paid by the company, but they are still an employee. Employers will not just let slide if their employees are working for their competition in their spare time, and it's pretty understandable if a company's supplier gets miffed that they have an employee working in their spare time to compete against the supplier, especially with an non-compete agreement between the 2 parties
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bankman (136859) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:18PM (#12155179) Homepage
    If RMS had his way, software would be open (good), free (good), and nobody would be able to make a living writing software (bad).

    *Sigh* After almost two decades of Free (OS) Software, you still don't get it. Even considering the fact that most FOSS programmers (who are writing software after all) are still around and so far haven't starved to death, you, amongst so many others, still believe that it's impossible to make a living out of it.

    Who do you think is most qualified to deliver (meaningful) support, fixes and enhancements to any kind of software? Right, the original developers. While everybody may look at the (open) source code, the original developers are most qualified to do anything with it in a timely fashion. This one alone opens up possibilities for revenue creation.

    What about hardware drivers? IBM does pay their developers to work on (GPL'd) Linux drivers so that that it can sell it to their customers, no? Or do you really think that Big Blue tells its software engineers that they will have to work for free while hacking FOSS drivers?

    Just because you are too daft to figure out a viable business model doesn't mean it can't be done.

    Sorry if this sounds too harsh for you, but you made a fine example of not getting IT.

  • by Otto (17870) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:20PM (#12155200) Homepage Journal
    OSDL had an agreement with BitMoover, and therefore the contractors they hire must also abide with that agreement.

    Which is, of course, the biggest line of bullshit ever. A company does not own its employees. While BitMover is legally in the clear here (the contract is the contract), they're morally in the wrong to have included such a line in the first place.

    It's one thing to tell companies you're giving free stuff to "hey, don't develop a competing product". That's cool. But OSDL wasn't developing a competing product. Some guy who worked for them was developing stuff on his own time and OSDL didn't fire him for it. BitMover's agreement basically says "not only can't you develop a competing product, but if you pay anybody who does or offer them any assistance or do anything other than kick the hell out of them, we're through".

    Making other companies into your goon squad to prevent competing products from appearing just because you're giving them some free software isn't morally sound. Competition is good, unless you're the one being competed against, right?
    Expecting that relationship to actually last, especially in a world where people think software should not only be free as in beer but also free as in speech, was perhaps a bit foolish on all sides, but in no way can you make BitMover out to be the good guy here.

    Larry is being a jackass, he probably knows it, and he probably doesn't much care.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zensonic (82242) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:24PM (#12155271) Homepage

    What consequences? Having the kernel be way better than it would have been if Linus had listened to you people and not used BitKeeper?

    Sure, BitKeeper might be going away--but the things Linus accomplished while it was here will NOT go way.


    This is the big difference between a religious attitude towards OSS and a laid back engineering style attitude.

    Use the best tool for the job and do not let religion get in the way of that decision! Sure the kernel developers has to find another tool now, but as the parent said: it was good while it lasted.
  • Re:Idiots (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gosand (234100) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:29PM (#12155327)
    Doesn't BitMover realize that companies license their products due to Linus using it? Linus's sarcastic comments about BitMover just pushes companies away, as probably intended. Won't that just screw themselves over?

    Not really. If companies have licensed their software, they are probably under some contract. And they have probably had enough time to transition all their code into it. Transitioning out is much harder. BitMover already has the signed deals, it doesn't MATTER the reasoning WHY companies signed the deals. If someone signed up based solely on the fact that Linus used it, then they are fools in the business world. But without fools, there would be no business world as we know it.

    The real question is, if they are able to, will it be worth it for these companies to move off of BitKeeper now? I am guessing for a large enough percentage, the answer is no - and THAT is how BitMover wins. That is how business works for the most part, like it or not.

  • by N3wsByt3 (758224) <Newsbyte@fr[ ]ethelp.org ['een' in gap]> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:30PM (#12155344) Homepage Journal
    First of all, as someone else said above: "Did you ever consider that he might have got a similar productivity boost by switching to a Free source control system instead of BitKeeper? "

    It is dangerous to take a relation as a causality.

    But, say it did boost the development. A more appropriate anaology would be some machinery that is used to build a building. The building being Linux (which lacks in your comparison, because when driving a car, you are not working on something collectively). Now, say you have the choice of free machinery, which would be at your disposal forever, but work more slowely, and unfree ones, which work faster.

    After a copple of years, you get the finger with the unfree machinery. By then, everyone is used to the machinery, everything is managed according to it, and their is invariably a big cost (and considerable learning curve) in changing to any other machinery. Do you doubt that productivity will suffer because of it? I don't. Will it be worthwile, to have used the other macinery after all? That will depend on various factors, but it sure as hell isn't as clear-cut as in your analogy.

    At the end, it might well be that you're indeed better of by using the slow-but-steady machines instead of the fast-but-unreliable ones. As is known already in the IT business, changing to a new platform or whatever - especially when you're users are used to it, applications are build on it, etc. can be prohibitive expensive. Also, you don't actually *know* when or for what reason you will get the finger, do you? So all this is talk 'in hindsight'. If that dude backengineered Bitkeeper much sooner, they might have say 'njet' much sooner too. In that case, say after 6 months, would you still be saying the same thing?

    In cases like this, you do *not* know how long it will take to be allowed to use it, or if it is going to be worth the trouble. As with free alternatives, at least you know it will always remain free.

    So, in fact, if someone offered me a car that drives 1000 km in a month, but which can be taken away at their will, or I can chose a car that only drives 500 km/month, but remains mine indefinately, I'll chose the latter - as would most sensible people, me thinks.
  • by veg_all (22581) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:30PM (#12155350)
    Interesting quote from a 2003 Linux World artcle [linuxworld.com] on McVoy and the adoption of BK by Linus:

    I asked McVoy if the flak he gets from zealots on the LKML is bad enough to make him do what Perens and others have suggested he might do, which is to take it all back and not allow open source developers free use of the product. McVoy thought for a few moments and we talked about other things before responding fully. "To answer your earlier question, will we ever take it away? McVoy said. "I don't think we will ever take it away, but I may very well take me away."


    I'm not a kernel developer, but it seems to me Perens and RMS were right from the start. Good riddance and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.
  • by metamatic (202216) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:31PM (#12155368) Homepage Journal
    Surprisingly enough, almost exactly this scenario really happens, and results in children dying.

    Companies (specifically Nestlé) give free infant formula to mothers in third world countries, marketing it as better than the free alternative. The mother uses the free milk, and her natural supply dries up. Then suddenly the rules change, and Nestlé demands cash for more milk. To add to the problem, she has to find a supply of clean water to mix the formula with, which can be problematic.

    Even though Nestlé never say up front that they are offering an ongoing free supply of milk, they still get boycotted by many people who find their behavior immoral in the extreme.

    So your attempt to show by analogy that BitKeeper have done nothing wrong, in fact fails to convince.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pjrc (134994) <paul@pjrc.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:35PM (#12155437) Homepage Journal
    It's all about pace of development...

    What consequences? Having the kernel be way better than it would have been if Linus had listened to you people and not used BitKeeper?

    The pace of kernel development did improve. Some may have been BK's superior performance, but much was attributed to the increased delegation of responsibility (eg, RTFA)

    The "consequence" is that now, this improved speed can not continue much longer, until some other replacement is developed.

    Sure, BitKeeper might be going away--but the things Linus accomplished while it was here will NOT go way.

    But the improved speed may go away.

    Worse yet, the pace of kernel development might even slow for some time, as developers all migrate to another tool. Consider that changeset data is locked in a proprietary format that needs to be reverse engineered.

  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:48PM (#12155666)
    If RMS had his way there would still be plenty of people out there making a living writing software. Don't buy into that anti-OSS FUD

    Not just writing software - writing it better and more efficiently because they don't have to constantly re-invent the wheel nor worry about violating patents they aren't even aware of.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hangtime (19526) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:00PM (#12155813) Homepage
    I've got no dog in this fight, I don't develop on Linux, use Linux, just a techy and businessman who gets to watch from the sidelines and been around Slashdot for about seven years.

    Perhaps I do not get the religous thing, but as the simple business person I am struck at the audacity of the free software communitity sometimes. This was an individual and company that doubled the output of main-line Linux development over a couple year span and the only thing asked was not to try to reverse the product.

    Personally, I do not think that was too much to ask. At this point, the way I read yours and other responses is that the Linux faithful have NO trust in the mores and motivations of anyone. After reading the argument its sounds like there was a very symbiotic relationship to quote the book "Getting to Yes", a win-win for each side. I think you and others in this group should take a very good look in the mirror because it was decisions made by individuals that share your viewpoint that ended this relationship because you cannot and do not trust anyone to do the right thing.

    My question is where is the outrage at the OSDL for going back on its word. All I hear is bad-mouthing saying "I told you so." The reason everyone is saying I told you so is because the community broke the rules of the game is now going to pay for it. Either grow-up, trust others to do the right thing, and invite commerical enterprises into Linux passed just the shops that develop the big iron or doom yourselves to an existence where Linux only runs on servers and has no commercial packages avaliable.

    These sorts of actions by the community always trouble me because I will be creating software as a commercial enterprise one day but when certain factions within the community can't respect the agreement well that makes you less likely to write for Linux. Unlike most arguments the community does not hold the moral high-ground on this one.
  • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:02PM (#12155855)
    I'm not familiar with BitKeeper. Can anyone comment on the possible ramifications of having all these large-scale commercial contributors using a tool that Linus & Co no longer use/have access to?

    Sure. It doesn't matter, and we don't care.

    This is a great day for Linux, and Linus for that matter. Oh, and me.
  • by gsasha (550394) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:06PM (#12155909) Homepage
    Consider it in the following way: there is this company and the bunch of geeks. The company doesn't really trust that the geeks won't try and copy its product. On the other hand, the geeks don't really trust the company not to take away the tool that sits in the very base of what they're doing.

    This is like the scene with a bunch of cops and a bunch of mafia guys in the same room pointing guns at each other (a-la True Romance): it's a question of when, not whether, someone will wink first.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:36PM (#12156330)
    Sorry, you are wrong. Over 90% of programmers work on propietary software that is used internally by business or organizations. RMS knows this and does not have a single issue with it.

    RMS only cares about the users' ability to improve and redistribute the software they have.

    Personally, I have worked as a programmer for 18 years and have seen a constant cycle of external applications brought in, only for bugs to be found and not fixed, and companies drop products. Large commercial products like JDE or Insure90 come with source to prevent this very issue.
  • by NatteringNabob (829042) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:37PM (#12156342)
    BitMover's core problem has nothing to do with supporting Linux for free. Their problem is that they absolutely refuse to compete on price for commercial business. I really wanted to use BitKeeper when I convinced by employer that VSS was destroying productivity,however, BitMover was totally unwilling to match the price of Perforce. End of story. We are a perforce shop now, and probably always will be. They could have had an extra $15,000 per year now, and more over time as our development team grows, just by being competitive, and they turned it down. The 'cost of sales' was practically nil as well since I found them (I had worked on Sun's Teamware, the precursor to Bitkeeper so I already knew about the product). It would have taken 1 sales day to close the deal. I willing to bet that scenario has played out dozens, if not hundreds of times. Everybody would use bitkeeper if the price was right. It isn't, so they don't.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AstroDrabb (534369) * on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:43PM (#12156417)
    There is no "evaluation" version with a 30 timer that starts to nag you. You can download RHEL and make and distribute your own version such as Whitebox Linux [whiteboxlinux.org]. The only real restriction is that you cannot call it Red Hat Linux since that is a trademark of Red Hat. The main thing you get with RHEL is the enterprise grade support. If you called Red Hat and asked for support for Whitebox Linux, you would be told to go jump in a lake or something. Here is the source [redhat.com] to RHEL 3. Go have a ball!
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AstroDrabb (534369) * on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:47PM (#12156478)
    The majority of paid programmer get paid by a company that does not sell software. There will always be jobs for programmers like me. I work for a fortune 500 that has nothing to do with the Tech industry and has never sold one line of code. I get paid to develop in-house applications that are for use only by the company. Even if all commercial software went away and it all became GPL'ed/LGPL'ed, there will be plenty of jobs for programmers to work for companies making custom software to help companies to perform their day-to-day business.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 2short (466733) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:57PM (#12156606)
    "After almost two decades of Free (OS) Software, you still don't get it."

    After almost two decades of Free Software, a few people make a living writing free software for people who sell something else, generally support or hardware. Despite constant assurances from RMS, no significant number of people make money from writing the software.

    "Who do you think is most qualified to deliver (meaningful) support,"

    A well-organized support organization. Employing the original developers might be a small advantage, but less so if the code is well written and documented.

    "... fixes and enhancements to any kind of software? "
    The need for fixes, and the advantage of the original developers in making fixes and enhancements are inversely proportional to the quality of the code. Certainly they'll have some advantage, since no code is perfect, but it's hard to ask people to strive to eliminate their market advantage. That said, I actually have paid people for enhancements to their BSDish licensed code. Where'd I get the money? Selling proprietary software.

    Certainly there are ways to fund some software development that aren't dependent on the code being closed. But for a lot of software, there is a much more effective and direct way to fund it if it is not open source: You can just charge for the actual product.

    "Just because you are too daft to figure out a viable business model doesn't mean it can't be done."

    I've got a viable business model. I spend a lot of money writing software that a bunch of people will pay a significantly smaller amount of money for. Then I sell it to them. I make money, they get the software without any one of them paying for all the development. I fail to see the problem.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:2, Insightful)

    by merdark (550117) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:03PM (#12156674)
    Seriously, there are many reasons FOR the GPL. I am sick of people who aren't political having an allergic reaction to it, while you might not value the reasons for the GPL there *ARE* perfectly legitimate and powerful reasons for believing in it.

    I am sorry, but I do not see that our current software economy is at all sustainable with the GPL. I firmly believe that the GPL will and is putting programmers out of jobs everywhere.

    If GPL software ever reaches a critical mass and destroys 'for pay' software, I predict that we will see our software industry completely stagnate. I'll be here to say 'I told you so' at that point, but by then it will be too late.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by metamatic (202216) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:05PM (#12156705) Homepage Journal
    If BitMover stated up front that all licenses would be withdrawn from all Linux developers in the event that any single Linux developer tried to reverse engineer BitKeeper, then Linus was a total idiot for agreeing to that license.

    If BitMover did not state those conditions up front, then they are being evil and manipulative in yanking licenses from unrelated parties in a fit of pique over what one person is doing in his own time.

    Is that balanced enough for you?

    Personally, I'm struck by the audacity of a software company trying to control what someone uses a piece of software for, after giving it to him. If Microsoft said you were prohibited from using Windows to write articles critical of Microsoft and contrary to their interests, you would presumably have no problem with that?
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Heretik (93983) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:18PM (#12156849)
    So you think the entire 'software economy' (barf) is based upon reimplementing crap that has already been done?

    Man, if all you do is rewrite things that already exist, you deserve to lose your job.

    The rest of us will be glad we're not wasting our time, and have a large pool of code to draw from to, you know, solve problems
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by natet (158905) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:22PM (#12156904)
    My question is where is the outrage at the OSDL for going back on its word. All I hear is bad-mouthing saying "I told you so." The reason everyone is saying I told you so is because the community broke the rules of the game is now going to pay for it.
    OSDL didn't go back on its word. It kept its word to the developer that worked for them. They chose not to censure a developer, who in his spare time was working on reverse engineering bitkeeper features for another SCM. Though Linus works for OSDL, OSDL is not the company responsible for the Linux kernel. They don't use Bitkeeper themselves for other projects, so, OSDL was not beholden to BitMover with regards to the clause about developing a competing product. Based on what I read in the press release, and in the article, I surmise that Larry was considering dropping the free version for some time, as the benefits of the symbiotic relationship between BitMover and the kernel developers were tapering off, and this gave him the excuse he was looking for.

    I'm sorry you feel that way about commercial ventures on Linux. I must say, that expecting that no one will try to duplicate the feature set of a successful program is unrealistic, in any market. Closed or Open source, it makes no difference. If your competitor has a feature that makes it successful, you better have that feature in your own product, or you start falling behind. If you think that closed source competitors won't do this to you, then you are just naive.

  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZephyrXero (750822) <zephyrxero&yahoo,com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:41PM (#12157092) Homepage Journal
    Where's the parent's +5 Insightful? The current software industry is headed for failure regardless of open source competition. They're stagnating, and if companies would learn to work together (at least partially) w/ open source projects they might have the ability to innovate and could stand to make much more money in the long term...
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JohnFluxx (413620) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:57PM (#12157281)
    Do you forget so soon that 95% of computer jobs are in house jobs, and aren't being sold outside the company? That means if GPL destroyed 'for pay' software, a minimum of 95% of the job would still be there.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bheading (467684) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:01PM (#12157347)
    Bruce, I greatly respect your opinions and your contribution on most subjects but I don't agree on this one.

    There are serious consequences to making the wrong choice when it comes to revision control. You've got a choice between the tried and tested such as CVS, which took years to get right, and which work but are frankly crap and get in the way - let's face it. On the other hand you can try out the new and experimental systems which dramatically improve productivity but are not tried and tested. BK bridged that gulf and provided the best of both worlds, but certain loud whiners denounced it as being against their religion and worked to undermine it ever since.

    You talk about those 1000 developers - what do they do when the revision control system hits a bug or the database gets corrupted, and no-one is available to fix it ? I'd love to believe that there would be an army of dedicated people waiting in the wings, ready to step in and immediately fix the bug or the corruption in the same way that Bitkeeper did. Who is going to pay for people to do that ? Are the monotone developers going to walk out of their day-jobs and support the kernel SCM for nothing ?

    Of course what might happen is one of the big corporations such as RH or IBM will generously fund an engineer to work on one of these SCM systems (notwithstanding IBM's Clearcase commitment) in which case you're back right where you were - dependency on the whims of a corporation.

    I think the kernel community will live to regret making life unnecessarily hard for the BK people and will come to miss the scalability that it provided. True, in 18 months or so monotone or whatever Linus chooses may well get to the point where it is usable - no doubt after a few nasty crashes and dropped patches.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SeanAhern (25764) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:07PM (#12157444) Journal
    Dude, convincing government employees that they're parasites feeding off of the taxpaying public is next to impossible.

    I fully understand and appreciate that my salary is paid for from the public largess. I would argue that my co-workers understand the same. I do everything I can to responsibly spend those dollars to do the task that Congress has tasked my Lab to do. Your comment about "parasites" argues more toward your belief about the value of that task. That's not up to me or even my Lab to decide. Take it up with your representatives and senators who fund us with the budget they vote for.

    But all of that is somewhat irrelevant to the point.

    I am giving counter argument to the idea that open source developers are not paid. The funding source is not germane to the argument. I gave four examples where we directly paid people to produce open source software. I'm sure you will be able to find other examples.
  • Re:Bitkeeper (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neutralstone (121350) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:11PM (#12157490)
    I can't help but feel that the Bitkeeper folks are going to lose a lot of sales due to programmers regarding them poorly as a result of this action.
    Lots of programmers do not regard them poorly -- Linus included. From his post this morning:
    "So I just wanted to say that I'm personally very happy with BK, and with Larry. It didn't work out, but it sure as hell made a big difference to kernel development."
    It seems to me that the only programmers who really view BitMover poorly at this point are those who adopted the view that all software should be FLOSS. They happen to be the same ones who, in general, tend not to pay for binary-only software. In other words, I don't see how BitMover will lose sales from people who weren't customers anyway. And I don't see how this move affects existing customers or potential customers, who are obviously willing to lay down money for the best tool said money can buy.

    Larry's comments seem not to disagree with this reasoning. From TFA:
    When asked if he was concerned about this resulting in the creation of a project that ultimately competes with BitKeeper, Larry replied, "yes, of course. We'd be idiots to not be." However, he then went on to point out some reasons that this was unlikely. In maintaining two products, he was suprised to learn that the needs of the open source community was much different than the needs of the commercial community.
    ...so I think BitMover will be around for some time to come. A good thing too, because they're kicking ass and indications are that future versions of BK will further impress.

    It will also be nice if their future features will eventually become available in the form of an equally compelling open-source RCS, but if the past five years are any indication, we can expect not to see truly innovative features on the FLOSS side for a long time. And that is really unfortunate, but hopefully the monotone people will pick up the slack.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dmaxwell (43234) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:15PM (#12157557)
    I can imagine a buggy whip cart maker making much the same laments as Henry Ford's assembly lines cranked into high gear.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:16PM (#12157574) Homepage Journal
    what do they do when the revision control system hits a bug or the database gets corrupted, and no-one is available to fix it?

    They fix it. That's our way.

    Are the monotone developers going to walk out of their day-jobs and support the kernel SCM for nothing ?

    They will support it as well as they can without leaving their day jobs. That's pretty much how the kernel got far enough along that the kernel developers were finally able to get paid to work on it.

    Of course what might happen is one of the big corporations such as RH or IBM will generously fund an engineer to work on one of these SCM systems

    This was already going on, anyway - there are several folks funding various sorts of Open Source version control. But the point is that whether or not the help is coming from a corporation, the software will be under an Open Source license and thus we can walk away from the corporation if we wish, and keep the software going on our own.

    Before you have sympathy for the BK "people", go back and look at how Larry has comported himself. He created this latest incident, and could have kept the world's most publicized programmer endorsing his product just by keeping his mouth closed.

    Bruce

  • GO TO HELL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by argoff (142580) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:16PM (#12157577)

    Did your grocery store ever offer you free bread and milk? Did they imply that this would be an ongoing offer? Was there ever a concern that your household was becoming dependant on that free bread and milk? And once you did become dependant on that free bread and milk, did your grocery store now demand the 4 bucks because they discovered one of your household members was learning how to bake bread?

    If I decided to make my own bread and milk for free from scratch, no store in the world - or decent human being would threaten me for making a copy of theres with lawsuits for copyright infringement or charge me for copying - but this is exactly what BitKeeper is doing today. It's bullshit morality, and it not only stupidly treats something that is tangable like something that isn't, but it treats it in a way that is even MORE restrictive than physical things.

    Since free (not as in beer) software has started, it must be behind over 100Bln in economic activity alone - yet people still can't pull their head out and see who'se being pro business and commerce, and who'se being pro cartel, monopoly, and anti free makret. God dammit, information has no natural limit in supply and demand, it's the services, support, and things that go with it that do. Bottom line, people who can't provide these seem to want to controll the information, people who can don't. The former simply doesn't belong in the information age.

  • Re:I cant wait (Score:2, Insightful)

    by merdark (550117) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:19PM (#12157626)
    I didn't say that I am losing any job. I'm not threatened at all actually.

    Also, open source project rewrite the same thing over and over far more than closed source companies, ironically. Seriously, how many shitty audioplayers, xml editors, text editors, and the like are there in open source? Open source is terrible that way, despite having usable code already written, people scratching itches decide that 'oh, I don't like the way they did it, I'm going to do it AGAIN, my way'.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by merdark (550117) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:27PM (#12157737)
    Except that Ford payed his workers for their time, and consumers still needed to pay for the cars. Wait, so that means that current software companies are much like Ford's assembly lines.

    Your analogy is a terribly poor.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:31PM (#12157780) Homepage Journal
    It's not clear to me that OSDL ever agreed to a bitkeeper license. Linus brought Bitkeeper there with him. And even Linus accepted Bitkeeper before the anti-reverse-engineering provision was in the license. But I agree that it's a demonstration that breaking licenses loses you all rights to the software. From the minute that Larry inserted the anti-reverse-engineering provision, this was destined to happen. Some of us knew better than to put ourselves in the position of having it happen to us. I never entered into a Bitkeeper license, I never used the product.

    Bruce

  • Do not accuse me, or the Open Source movement, of dismissing software freedom. That's Eric Raymond's individual gig, and perhaps that of some other people who should know better. The deprecation of Stallman and Free Software was an unfortunate thing that Eric did. I didn't condone it and have never approved of it. I have always considered Open Source to be a gentle introduction to Stallman's philosophy for business people. Once people are using the software, they will be willing to learn more.

    Bruce

  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:37PM (#12157879) Homepage Journal
    That's sort of a back-handed endorsement that would not help to sell Larry's product.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stephen Ma (163056) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:48PM (#12158003)
    BitKeeper provided a free, powerful system that helped Linux, and the Linux community, tremondously. No one debates that

    BitMover received an immense marketing boost from Linus' adoption of BitKeeper. The company founded by Larry McVoy would probably not be viable today without Linus' implied endorsement of their product. So please don't pretend that BitMover was doing Linus a favor -- the reality was very much the other way around.

    When BitMover was just getting started, nobody knew what BitKeeper was, and nobody had any idea whether it was a reliable program. Because an archive of source code is the repository of the corporate jewels, reliability is crucial. Cautious sysadmins want a revision control system to have a long track record for dependability, and they would not have touched a newbie program like BitKeeper with a ten foot pole. So BitMover's survival in a crowded market was very uncertain from the start.

    Linus' adoption of BitKeeper lent it enormous credibility, and is probably the most important reason why Larry McVoy's company continues to exist today. Linus benefited somewhat from BitKeeper, but BitKeeper benefited vastly more from Linus.

  • Re:I cant wait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LurkerXXX (667952) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:51PM (#12158042)
    So let's see. What if Microsoft had an employee who was say breaking the GPL license by releasing a product that he had based on GPL code (CherryOS-like).

    And MS said that's ok, because really, the employee is doing... "other" work for us, and only doing the Cherry-OS-thing on his "own-time".

    Do you really expect the GPL folks who's code it was based on to buy that, and think MS might not have had some bit in it? And don't you think they'd quickly deny MS all rights to use the GPL code for any reason based on their employees breaking their license?

  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eXtro (258933) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:55PM (#12158092) Homepage
    What does "untold number" mean? That's the weasely argument that the MPAA and RIAA use to determine that they're losing billions of dollars to piracy.

    In this case there's the set of people that stated that they wouldn't contribute to the linux kernel because of the Bitkeeper decision. There's also the set of people capable of contributing to the linux kernel. The intersection of these two groups is the impact on kernel development and it's offset by increased productivity due to Bitkeeper. I don't know if it's a net positive or a net negative, but neither do you.
  • by schon (31600) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @04:01PM (#12158155)
    If we got several years of significantly increased productivity, for the cost of two brief SCCS transitions (one onto BK, the other off from BK), is that such a bad deal?

    That entirely depends on how much productivity we gained, versus how much was (and will be) lost due to the transitions, whether or not that same (or a similar) productivity gain would have been realized if Linus had chosen an open-source SCCM from the beginning.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mumbleco (873867) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @04:05PM (#12158213)

    Oh, and that makes it OK? So if I hate the GPL because it doesn't let me do what I want with the software, and I refuse to use GPL products, then it's OK to flame Richard Stallman, boycot the Free Software Foundation, and criticize anyone who uses GPL software?

    Wouldn't my time be better spent creating a proprietary solution?

  • by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @04:09PM (#12158257) Journal
    So instead of developing easy to use software that doesn't need support, people should really develop useful but hard to use software that has support costs.

    There's an instant "-1 Flamebait" target if ever I saw one.

    Listen up. Software doesn't need support, ever. Users need support, to varying degrees. So your fundamental premise is a misleading straw man.

    Free Software neither eliminates or increases the need for user support. Good software, regardless of how it's licensed, is easier for the user to use without hand-holding. Free Software increases the options available to the user, and eventually market Darwinism will tend to narrow the field to the packages which best meet the users' needs. Not the market monopolist's need, mind you: the true needs of the real users. Niche minority software packages will continue as long as someone is interested in it, even if it's just the solitary unwashed hippy developer.

    In short, developers should develop what the damn hell they feel like, and the users should use whatever they feel comfortable with.

  • Re:Freedom matters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @04:24PM (#12158422)
    My experience is that it's exactly the same ballpark.

    I have two clients that I installed at similiar times (1999).

    One client was an always strong MS shop, and got a new Windows 2000 server, and workstations. Another client got a RedHat 5.2 release against the whole network. Windows 2000 is still very much supported. RedHat 5.2 is literally, what, like 5 major versions back. It has been a huge pain for me to maintain. For a while I compiled my own updates for them. Then, I worked up upgrading them to a new version of RedHat. Then RedHat discontinued their whole line, and I can either buy a distro or use Fedora. Meanwhile MS has a roadmap, laid out, that details when things will change. Still getting updates for the same product. Still chugging along without a single app being "force" upgraded. Office 2000 + Win2k. It's a fine solution. They are looking for faster machines with more storage space and bigger monitors, better connections (FireWire, USB 2.0, etc) pretty quick , and they'll get them plus the latest software from MS. And everything will be fine.

    I lost the RedHat client and they went to someone who provided them with a Solaris based network with Sparc stations.

    My point is unless you are prepared to get personally into the source code you can't plan on any specific package being supported once it's not trendy anymore. The name brandpackages - the kernel, X, php, mysql, apache - sure they'll probably always be supported by someone somewhere for free. Great. But the thousands of little niche packages - they die off all the time, and are replaced. If you build your company website from a FOSS CMS package, a in a few years you may have to move it to a new one because the current one died and you dont have the time or skill to maintain it and upgrade it on your own. If you selected a proprietary package, you could be in the same boat if the company went tits up or discontinued the product. This could absolutely happen.

    I don't dispute that FOSS gives you a leg up in this regard. It is better than proprietary, but not enough to make any FOSS package a better deal automatically than a comparable proprietary package. The nature of FOSS is something to put in the "benefits" category, but not necessarily something that is an automatic deal-closer.

    If you are a hardcore system program, or can hack these packages, or have staff to handle it, great. Go for it. Go all to the nines. But, for (1) individuals that are not terribly geeky and (2) small businesses up to medium sized businesses, the case becomes much more muddled. It's automatically a better deal to go FOSS.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dopefish_1 (217994) <slashdot@thed[ ]fish.com ['ope' in gap]> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @05:02PM (#12158898) Homepage
    Seriously, how many shitty audioplayers, xml editors, text editors, and the like are there in open source?

    While this is certainly true, there's no shortage of shitty closed-source (commercial or shareware) audio /video players and text/HTML editors, either. There's squillions of them. So I think the issue is just that programmers in general like to keep scratching the same itches over, and over again--it has nothing to do with open source vs closed source.
  • ..it seems to fill a void, or will once it is mature enough.

    Whatever project Torvalds settles on is going to receive a tremendous boost in attention. Attention of the best sort, hordes of very tech-savvy open source developers.

    The result will be a massive bout of stabilization and filling in of gaps for that project.

    The Bottom Line, Cosmic Goodness for the whole world.

    Personally I'll be watching this story _very_ closely. We need to shift of CVS soonish, and you can bet whatever Linus chooses will immediately become top candidate.

  • by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv...vadiv@@@neverbox...com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @06:42PM (#12159862) Homepage
    Likewise, I can't understand why they sell motor oil to consumers. Sure, only a few people use it, but is destroying 10% of the lube business worth it?

    And remember back when we employed people to clean our ovens? Who the hell decided it was a good idea to start selling self-cleaning ovens? Or dishwashers! That used to be a profession, now it's a machine.

    And barcodes with electronic inventory management systems. We used to pay people to keep track of inventory. It was an honored profession, and now a few swipes of a laser every time something arrives or is sold and, no more profession.

    You, my friend, have fallen victim to the 'broken window fallacy'. Doing makework is not good for the economy. Operating unneeded companies is makework.

    The 10% of the software that everyone uses does not need to be sold. By defination, 'everyone' includes 'people capable of writing the software', so we can just let them do it, and there's less makework. (You can question why they want to do it for free, but, they obviously are doing it for free, so the question is rather moot.)

    Anyway, while your point would be silly in any normal software enviroment, it's incredibly stupid in our MS-dominated world. Either you work at MS, or you'll be out of a job anyway.

  • Re:I cant wait (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @06:51PM (#12159963)
    Go read the previous interviews to Linus and Larry McVoy. Larry had worked on TeamWare at Sun. He was already known for his ability to write source control management systems. He explained to Linus what he could give him. He would have succeeded selling BitKeeper anyway.

    Your last statement is completely non-sequitir. Bitkeeper could arguably the be all end all and best source code control system to ever exist, now and forever. That does not change a fucking thing about how it does in the market.

    That Larry, who is clearly a megalomaniac and mentally unstable individual, could design a SCCS doesn't really matter if it can't me marketed properly. Whether Larry knows it or not, the use of Bitkeeper by Linux has been one of its best sources of advertising.
    I have consulted for numerous companies that would never even have heard of Bitkeeper if it weren't for the publicity generated by Linux.

    I get the impression that Bitmover is not a terribly well run company.. There is no excuse why they haven't displaced a lot of the competition.
  • by xswl0931 (562013) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @07:18PM (#12160204)
    Let me clarify the point I was trying to make. Someone had said that you cannot make money by producing free software. In the case where this is a hobby and you have a regular job, this is not an issue. In the case where you want to make this your career or make a business of producing free software, I argue that it is difficult if not impossible to produce both good software (meaning no money from support) and free software while making a living from it. You seem to be agreeing with my point.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by boots@work (17305) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @09:21PM (#12161279)
    In a few projects I'm involved, compared to other distributed Apple are far less likely to send back useful bug reports or patches.

    This is surprising because you'd think they actually generate *more* patches, being on a non-Linux platform and all. And indeed if you look at their source you find they actually did make lots of changes, they just didn't feed them back, which as we know is not really optimal.

    Just my experience, ymmv, etc.

    Not that this makes Apple evil, they just aren't as experienced in how to make open source work as folks at other companies. But they are learning, and trying to learn.
  • And I care, why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by UN1XG0D (867838) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @12:09AM (#12162644)
    This is hardly shocking coming from a commercial software vendor and honestly doesn't really affect things that much. It creates two possible scenarios which both work just fine. 1) an alternative system is found and development goes on as usual. 2) no other alternative can handle the job so BitMover has effectively challenged one of the greatest hackers of all time to develop a replacement which kicks the shit out of BK and development continues as usual.

System checkpoint complete.

Working...