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Programming IT Technology

Credit and Free Software 213

Hans Reiser - you're thinking ReiserFS, and you'd be right - has a proposal to slather Free Software with credits for its authors. Good? Bad? This is something the community has generally moved away from, but maybe Reiser has a good point. Newsforge is part of OSDN.
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Credit and Free Software

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  • by dtolton ( 162216 ) * on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:22PM (#5869384) Homepage
    I strongly agree with Reiser on this issue. Although he doesn't
    necessarily argue for "slathering" software with attributions, rather
    he argues convincingly IMO that the credit for a piece of software
    should remain visible to the public users. This can be tastefully
    done easily, the point is that leaving the credit for writing the
    software in the source code is pointless as most people don't ever
    read the source code.

    It isn't even so much that someone can't supply a new spalsh screen,
    it just needs to include attributions to the original authors. I
    think he makes some very interesting and very valid points. It is
    interesting to note as he states, that although Stallman is a huge
    contributor to many projects, he rarely gets credited on anything.
    I feel the same way as Reiser on this, even though Stallman doesn't
    want to burden the software with licensing restrictions, it bothers
    me that he gets so little in the way of credit for what he has helped
    to bring about.
    • by Fembot ( 442827 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:33PM (#5869437)
      People that don't read the source code arent the sort of people who are likely to rember names IMO. (Or care about names generaly for that matter)

      Also doesn't this proposed license contradict the definition of a freesoftware license?

      And your point about stallman is probably not a good example. He is one of the very few developers that are well known and have got a big reputation in the opensource community.
      What Reiser was saying is it would be an incentive to smaller developers to contribute stuff if they thought that someone somewhere would randomly see their name splashed on the screen. I think I'm inclined to disagree with this basicaly selfrightosness
      • "And your point about stallman is probably not a good example. He is one of the very few developers that are well known and have got a big reputation in the opensource community."

        Well if you look at Slashdot, then I'd say he has a big reputation of being the man who gets most flamed at!
        Just look at the Slashdot article about the GNU/Linux FAQ. It generated well over 1000 comments, of which 95% are trolls, flames and personal insults towards RMS. A lot of them even got modded up to +5 Insightful!
        • trolls, flames and personal insults towards RMS. A lot of them even got modded up to +5 Insightful!

          Which, sadly, says a lot about the adolescent nature of some of the Slashdot community. Let's face it, how many of these kids have even met the man? OK, I never have (and I'm not a kid any more, either:-))

          Fact remains that RMS has contributed a hell of a lot of time and effort over the years to open-source software, and he deserves some credit for it.

      • People that don't read the source code arent the sort of people who are likely to rember names IMO. (Or care about names generaly for that matter)

        Wha? Are you saying that everyone who remembers' Maddona's name, or Bill Gates, or Michal Jordan or Mohamed Saeed Al-Sahhaf are all source code reading geeks?

        People will remember a name if they see or hear it often enough.
      • Stallman is very well known, but I can't recall any software he's written other than GNU Emacs. While Emacs alone is a pretty huge contribution, I know there is more that he has done, I just don't know what it is.. and its probably stuff I use all the time.

        I think at the root of this is the whole "GNU/Linux" vs "Linux" debate, as that is one of the most prominent cases of not giving credit where credit is due. When that issue was covered on "Revolution OS", Stallman made a very good argument that there a
      • People that don't read the source code arent the sort of people who are likely to rember names IMO. (Or care about names generaly for that matter)

        That's missing the point. The credits are not there to drill obscure names into people's memory. A little blurb in --help or --about or --version should suffice here. Credit should be given, because it's the Right Thing to do. If someone uses some of your code, no one will ever know about it, even though the contribution was valuable enough, obviously.

        This wou

      • People that don't read the source code arent the sort of people who are likely to rember names IMO. (Or care about names generaly for that matter)

        No way. In the new world order where IP goes away, your reputation as a contributor to software will be your stock in trade. It will be the means by which you price your services to those that would consume them from projects to emplyers. It is absolutely critical that software is correctly attributed and that it should be easy and proiminant.

        You see som

    • by usotsuki ( 530037 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:35PM (#5869451) Homepage

      Nuff said? Nuff said.

      (FreeGEM Desktop does about the same thing under Desk\Info)

      • True. I like Reiser's first idea though - giving credit to the developers in splash screens, screensavers, etc. But changing the license - no. As others on the newsforge board said too, a Free Software license does not restrict the user in any way other than forcing people to keep the license. If people want more credit for their products, they could easily change their product so it shows the names in more places (as long as that doesn't lead to nag screens...).

        Maybe Hans Reiser is writing this article be
    • by UtucXul ( 658400 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:36PM (#5869458) Homepage
      Last I checked, the man pages of nearly all software show the authors' names. And most of the time, it is a program's web page that people need to go to for help pr useful info, and those are always filled with names of people who worked on it. I don't see why we need much more than that.
    • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:52PM (#5869548) Homepage Journal
      It seems history, even short term history repeats itself. This was tried in the past by the BSD license and was taken out [berkeley.edu] because it is way too onerous. The problems with requiring such credit are well enumerated by the Free Software Foundation in the essay entitled "The BSD License Problem" [gnu.org].

      On the surface, it sounds like a good idea until you consider what it means to give prominent credit to all the major people who are involved with a piece of software. The larger a project is the larger the number of active participants. More importantly when a project gets large enough it acquires dependencies that provide significant functionality which also are as deserving of credit as the original application developers.

      For example I built a news aggregator that is an now a source code available project on GotDotNet [gotdotnet.com] that has 70 developers signed up with about a dozen having been active in one shape or the other. There are also dependencies on three external libraries that also provide significant functionality. If this was a commercial product exactly how feasible would it be for me to give prominence to everyone who provided significant value to the application? What metric would I use?
      • On the other hand, one of the big advantages of free software is that you can find a *named person* responsible for each line of code and if necessary contact that person directly, rather than some moronic 'helpline'. So the list of credits should definitely be there... But I don't agree that this goal, however desirable, should be enforced by licensing.
      • Another very realistic example: try the GNOME about menu, if you still have one in your installation. It scrolls in some attractive manner through all the GNOME developers in alphabetic order.

        The attractiveness is well over once you have passed the B, though. I imagine developers with names starting with Z's constantly falling asleep when trying to check if they're credited.
      • This doesn't only apply to software but video game software as well.

        I mean, how can you credit one person when it took dozens of programmers, designers, content creators, etc. to make the game?

        This was one of the gripes with "American Mcgee's Alice". I've read one of the developer interviews, and they were dissatisfied with the title as it attributes the entire creation to one single man.

      • So what, naming everyone involved is a lengthy process? Some recent papers based on genome-wide microarray methods have 40 or more authors (see Science and Nature). That doesn't mean they shouldn't all be credited. Everyone involved in the project should be credited in the about section. This is simply academic honesty. We need to establish some strong ethical guidelines on how to attribute proper credit.
    • by stevew ( 4845 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @02:18PM (#5869653) Journal
      I have some significant problems with - what is the difference between this concept and what was the original BIG problem with "BSD Style licenses" where you had to display the copyright notice at boot time/use time? Remember that??? The GPL people stayed away from BSD licenses because of this copyright clause. Now that the BSD licenses don't have the copyright notice they are perhaps "more free" that GPL since they don't have the "contribute the changes back" requirement!

      Further - the whole concept behind BSD and GPL style licenses is that the user is free to change/modify/use the software as needed. A change to "give the author credit" is a definite usage requirement!!!! It isn't free then?!?!

      Look - the authors have a right to put their code under ANY license requirement they like. If they choose to do this - well, I just don't think the software would then qualify as either Free or Open Source software in my mind.
      • I remember those BSD-style credits. It took ages for the system to display them all during boot. If someone wants to build a 'click-here for developer credits' into an app then its fine by me. What I don't want is involuntary scrolling credits, particularly on app startup. If this leaked into the kernel, we would be in dead trouble - wait three days for a boot!!!!
      • Look - the authors have a right to put their code under ANY license requirement they like. If they choose to do this - well, I just don't think the software would then qualify as either Free or Open Source software in my mind.

        Remember that free software is like free speech, not free beer. If I write an article, free speech means you can quote from it (with attribution) and you can use ideas from it (without attribution). I would be likely to allow you to redistribute it in whole (with attribution). No

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:24PM (#5869392)
    Then the new GPL Secured Platinum Card from RMS is for you! All the credit you ever wanted, in one small piece of code.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:24PM (#5869393)
    I know quite a few people who have written second rate software under Free licenses for nothing more than a bit of prestige and something to write on their CV. Indeed, even some of the more major F/OSS contributors seem to take development as a career advancement/fame trip.

    I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this, mind. I just want to remind some of the zealots that writing Free software is often not the selfless idealistic cause some make it out to be.

    • I know quite a few people who have written second rate software under Free licenses for nothing more than a bit of prestige...

      How much prestige can they get for writing second rate software? I don't recall many people being very impressed by second rate anything.

    • by DarkVein ( 5418 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @09:38PM (#5871895) Journal

      Using Ayn Rand's clarified definition, I'd say selfish reasons are the best and most prominent reasons to write good software. Still using Ayn Rand-compliant vocabulary, Reiser is being very selfless.

      Translation: people write software for the feeling of self-fullfillment, self-actualization, and personal pride. This is a personal experiece that does not require anyone else's opinion to realize; you know you've given everything you could. Reiser, however, requires the recognition of others, needs his "greatness" (extremely debatable) to be recognized and advertised by others. This is what people mean by "his ego problems". He is "without self", or "selfless".

      More on a practical point, Hans Reiser has been completely unable to prove that (1) the current setup is insufficient, (2) anything would be gained by modifying the current setup, and (3) his proposals would do less harm than good.

      Further, I have supreme doubts that reputation is the driving force for the best programers. Respect of your peers is a reward. Delivering bad code would cause you to lose respect, and that lose would be a source of fear. Fear does not drive good development. Self-actualization drives good development, and that is incompatible with fear of resentment. Good programers (s/programers/anything) may enjoy the respect of their peers, but that is quite different from fear for your reputation. Reiser is fearful, and ReiserFS is a testament to bad code.

  • Immersing it in vinegar is not helping, either.
  • by vosbert ( 544192 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:27PM (#5869408)
    OSS belongs to the community. There's really no need for credits. Where would we draw the line if we allowed credits? banner ads? annoying pleas for money? pop up windows?
    • vosbert has a really good point. I like the idea of things belonging to the community more than to any individual person. Yet there is a way that an analogy should be made to art here. If you like a sculpture, or a piece of code, you should be able to find the artist/designer. So, perhaps v would say that having credit in the source code is enough, that anyone who really wants to find the designer, could. But the name of the artist adds to the work (yet perhaps only for marketing reasons?)

      I spend a mi
    • Belong to the community... yeah sure my ass.

      As an OSS developer myself I feel everyone is entitled to use a copy of my stuff for whatever they want. I don't feel they "own" the project though.

      I mean a lot of work goes into something like a Distro [or the stuff in a Distro]. Just because you're smart enough to put a CD in and install a distro doesn't mean you're a significant contributor.

      I'm all for tasteful plugging authors names.

    • Ok, hold on a sec. At the current state of things, many softwares are at one extreme. People have no clue on where it comes from.

      Linux is one of the fortunates, 'cause people may easily assume it with Linux. Same with ReiserFS and MAYBE the BSD's. B is for Berkeley, it's good enough for me. Even Netscape Mozilla, Microsoft Windows, Lotus 123.

      Today, I used pan. The news reader. Unless I go search, I haven't a clue who wrote pan, nor do I care. I also used Spammassassin.

      What is being suggested, is th
    • "OSS belongs to the community."

      OSS is released under various different licences which specify what the copyright owner will allow the "community" to do with it (which is usually pretty unrestricted, compared with closed-source software - after all, that's the point of OSS). But the community as a whole doesn't own it.

      "Where would we draw the line if we allowed credits? banner ads? annoying pleas for money? pop up windows?"

      Most of us would draw the line in a sensible place, and not think a load of boll
    • by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @03:02PM (#5869845)
      OSS belongs to the community.

      No way. When I write OS software, I retain the copyright. The community didn't write the software, I did. I freely allow the community to make use of it in practically any manner that they see fit, but that still doesn't mean that I have lost the ownership of my work.
      • When I write OS software, I retain the copyright. The community didn't write the software, I did. I freely allow the community to make use of it in practically any manner that they see fit, but that still doesn't mean that I have lost the ownership of my work.

        When you write software, you retain the copyright. When you release it as OS under a BSD-style license, I would agree that you retain the copyright. You can exercise your copy rights and pull the source code off the net to start selling commercial
        • When you write software, you retain the copyright. When you release it as OS under a BSD-style license, I would agree that you retain the copyright. You can exercise your copy rights and pull the source code off the net to start selling commercial versions for example.

          And how's that any diferent in GPL'd code? You can also "pull your source code off the net to start selling commercial versions" with it.

          However, when you release it under the GPL, you essentially branch a version of your copyrighted c

    • i agree completely... a standard [insert big brand gnulinux/*BSD here] distro has, what, a few thousand different packages. if each program has even ONE credit given to it, we are talking about so many names in the CREDITS on the back of the box that you wont be able to tell what the product is anymore!!!

      everyone who writes a gnu/oss program knows what they are gettign into before they start. RMS may seek credit everywhere he goes... but he wants credit given to GNU, not for himself! Reiser, on the other ha

  • Give 'em credit! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:28PM (#5869411)
    Listen. The authors wrote the software. They did so with the knowledge that it would be distributed freely (as in libremente) and as such they would probably not make any money off it. Despite this, they have put a lot of effort, blood, sweat and tears into making something that is reasonably functional, efficient and safe to use. I know exactly how difficult it is to produce good software.

    The way I see it, the authors deserve to have credits all over the free software that they made. And when you run free software, don't tell yourself that it's your right to take someone else's work and use it "just because." You have the right to use it because THEY gave you that right.

    • Re:Give 'em credit! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:38PM (#5869473) Homepage
      And when you run free software, don't tell yourself that it's your right to take someone else's work and use it "just because." You have the right to use it because THEY gave you that right.

      While that's true on it's face, I would counter that making the fruits of your labor available to others in the community is not an entirely selfless act.

      Really, quality OSS projects are not the work of a single person. They're the result of wide-ranging teams who, thanks to the GPL, are able to apply many eyes, ideas and approaches. That's the whole strength of OSS.

      Now, I do believe it's important to give credit to those who work hard, but I also believe it's futile to toss credits in the face of someone who doesn't give a toss (and not giving a toss is a right the GPL gives you, as well).

    • Developers can do what they want already. They don't because they know it will alienate users, but Help>About isn't enough for Hans. Hans is proposing credit - let's be blunt: commercials for the developers - be a mandated condition of the software license, universally and continually forced on users in screensavers and splashscreens. This isn't due credit, this is megalomania. I can already hear his next argument, that the name Reiser should be displayed equal time on all distros carrying his FS, wheth
      • He wants the default screensaver/splash screen to contain credits for the developers, rather then the people who packaged the distro, as is the case today. He's not saying that they should stay that way forever. Damn, learn to read.
    • if authors deserve to have credits all over the free software that they created, then why stop there? Let's have popup ads on websites to give the sponsors their fair due! Let's have status bar scrollers in OpenOffice listing credits, and banners when the program is minimized - just in case using it wasn't annoying enough already.
      Take it a step further, and actually read Reiser's article.. here's my favourite part. With this little gem, Hans reveals that he is totally, unequivocally out to lunch. The re
    • You suggest that credit is being stolen or snuffed, right now? Reiser is proposing to plaster advertising everywhere possible. He already puts advertising into kernel messasges, and there's a big stinking advertisment in the ReiserFS kernel infopage.

      Credit is given due, and anyone who cares can find out who wrote what piece of code (thanks to the miracle of comments). Reiser wants to plaster author names as advertising.

      Honestly, I don't think he's mentally healthy. I've written other comments on thi

  • by Heinr!ch ( 631474 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:31PM (#5869422)
    First, I think that mostly FOSS developers and engineers can appreciate the work that goes into this stuff. So I sortof agree that additional credit might be good as a way of thanking those who have made contributions. Software, especially application software, tends to be like a collage. Do you credit everyone equally? Do some people get more credit? What happens if we forget to thank/credit certain people along the way? I think this could be a disaster and potential hurt the movement.
  • by Meat Blaster ( 578650 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:31PM (#5869424)
    For many who contribute, the only compensation they see is in recognition. Everybody knows who Linux is, but how about the guy that put sed together?

    I would like to propose that, in addition to the mandatory screensaver displaying the credits, that every fifth time you run a utility its name, version number, date of creation, and author are read through the speaker. This way, people can truly appreciate the donation of software by others. To celebrate Free Software's global approach towards solving problems, this should be subtitled on the screen in the user's native language. This way, we can truly feel the joy of helping people without compensation while being compensated for it.

  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:34PM (#5869442) Homepage
    Hans talks about how 99% of people, as it stands, don't see the names of the folks responsible for the software they turned out. I'd counter that 99% of the people certainly could care less, that 99% of people leave movies before the credits are even halfway through and habitually tune them out to begin with.

    IMO, the people who are going to care are already seeing the names, either in the source or at the project websites or in CVS. To everyone else, any sort of more obtrusive crediting is just going to be obnoxious, and they're still not going to know any more names then they did before.

    The whole point, if anyone still remembers the original goal of the majority of OSS projects, is to write some kick-ass code that's going to be done the Right Way, rather than the short-cutty kludgy way that most programmers are forced to code at work. To me, this includes making the software as elegant and streamlined as possible, and the various methods of ego gratification I can think of (extra splash screens, etc) seem incompatible with this.

    • I agree entirely. Free software became a powerful force because it is free (as in freedom). Now people are continually trying to use it to push their own personal causes - RMS, the anti-drm camp, etc, and likewise with this. Trying to make rock stars out of people might net us a bit more cash in the short term, but it's ultimately a frivolous exercise. Linus has had the right vision from the start.
  • This sucks. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by I Am The Owl ( 531076 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:35PM (#5869455) Homepage Journal
    Like someone else mentioned above, this is not free software. If you write software that throws a bunch of credits in people's face all the time (the screensaver idea is an awful one), distros will be inclined not to use your software by default if the license forces the issue. Imagine if business contributes to a free software project and then insists that the business be "given credit" by putting their name all over the place. But then I see ReiserFS doing just that: last time I formatted a ReiserFS partition, I got a list of all the companies that contributed money to the project. Don't get me wrong, ReiserFS is great, but I don't care to see a bunch of ads in my software. Imagine if every time you ran ls you got some companies name listed along with your directory listing.

    Free software is not about egos, it is about keeping software free. Forcing something like this through licensing makes the software non-free. Want the credits? Look at the source code or the documentation!!!
    • Imagine if every time you ran ls you got some companies name listed along with your directory listing.

      More importantly, imagine if Reiser's view of the GPL was the norm. You write a good piece of software, someone else extends it a bit and slaps adds all over the place. You're now locked out from using their improvements unless you add in all their advertising.

      This is the same nonsence that PHP-Nuke argues. And in both cases, ReiserFS and PHP-Nuke, they complain about their advertising being removed
      • More importantly, imagine if Reiser's view of the GPL was the norm. You write a good piece of software, someone else extends it a bit and slaps adds all over the place. You're now locked out from using their improvements unless you add in all their advertising.

        What bit of the GPL says you have to use all of a patch someone submits? The maintainer doesn't have to accept the advert + the code - you haven't thought that comment out very well.

    • "Imagine if every time you ran ls you got some companies name listed along with your directory listing."
      Maybe they should list those names in the man pages - no-one would ever think of looking there ;-)
    • Hans has tris problem where he sees open source needs some retribution to some authors. Specifically, a filesystem or a hidden library that is crucial for the wellbehavedness of any OS doesn't get much credit while other end users programs like Mplayer do. So there is much less incentive to develop the boring part where you also don't get any visible rewards.

      And it turns out there is no real way to reward OSS authors, no credit system, nobody (except some few developers) really knows what's the real value

  • From the article:

    Have you ever worked a day job to fund other coders? Pure hell, let me tell you, especially if you are also so essential that time off becomes unacceptable.

    Have you ever worked in a place where your work was carrying/funding dead weight on a project team? Will all due respect to Mr. Reiser, this is no different, and will probably always be an issue until everyone contributes equally to everything. Even then, what are the odds that eveyone will be credited equally?

    Similarly, the pr
  • Yes, but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by I Am The Owl ( 531076 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:37PM (#5869470) Homepage Journal
    legislating developers' name on a screensaver leaves a bad taste in the mouth, honestly. If I had written any significant F/OSS, I would not feel nearly as good about knowing that the license was forcing my name to be displayed on the screen. I would feel nice if someone voluntarily put it up, sure.

    Marketers would not want to "un-necessarily'" give credit. Agreed. Not every company selling (services for) open-source code might be doing it for this reason, though.

    I can think of two more reasons: (a) they genuinely think that they are reducing information confusing to the (target) user; that their graphic is good; (b) they did not realize that the developers are feeling they are not getting enough credit.

    There is merit in the idea that credit to people who write FOSS could be more prominent. There is also a gentler way to do this, IMHO. Like, "Hey Debian dudes! Good work on that release. BTW, my wishlist for the next one is a screensaver that would display names of authors who wrote the packages I installed. Here's a graphic for the background, and here's how I think one could go about it...".

    If enough people support this idea and implement it, then the need to enforce it will not be needed. If some notable exception exists, one could consider license as a way to enforce it.
    • Re:Yes, but (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tychoS ( 200282 )
      For a widely used program, the authors showcased would risc. receiving a lot of email from end users thanking them, asking for help or screaming at them. Due to google and friends, including the authors email in the credits is not neccesary in order for the end users to easily reach him/her.

      Of course feedback from end users is nice for the programmer and leads to improved software if the programmer is inclided to listen to the users, however receiving several thousand emails a day from end users of a wide

  • Credit (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:38PM (#5869471)
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    Steve Dagley, Denis Daly, Angus Davis, Anthony Davis, Paul Davis, Michael Dayah, Mo DeJong, John Dee, Javi Delgadillo, Tom Dell, Vince DeMarco, Prashant Desale, Crutcher Dunnavant, Harish Dhurvasula, Matthew Dillon, Patrick-James Dionisio, Steve Dobbelstein, Jeremy M. Dolan, Simford Dong, Clayton Donley, Stephen Donner, Thomas Down, Rick Downes, Asa Dotzler, George Drapeau, Chris Dreckman, Bert Driehuis, David Drinan, York Du, Alvin Duan, Micah Dubinko, Jean-FranÃois Ducarroz, Suresh Duddi, Jim Dunn, Jeff Dyer
    Jason Eager, Rafael Ebron, Sean Echevarria, Brandon Ehle, Brendan Eich, Jan Eldenmalm, Rick Elliott, Steve Elmer, Joseph Elwell, Dawn Endico, Kai Engert, Jean-Jacques Enser, Beth Epperson, Harish Kumar Epuri, Ken Estes, Ramiro Estrugo, Matthias Ettrich, Jim Everingham
    John Fairhurst, Gilbert Fang, Darin Fisher, David Fisher, Matt Fisher, Greg Fiumara, Werner Fleck, Alec Flett, Bret Ford, Robin Foster, Marc Fraioli, Joe Francis, Andreas Franke, Simon Fraser, Jonathan Freeman, Alan Freier, Noah Friedman, Michael J. Fromberger, Chris Fuchs, Koji Fujimoto, C. Fung, Igor Furlan, Scott Furman, Ryoichi Furukawa
    Niccolà Gallarati, Jeff Galyan, Bruce Gao, Sean Gao, David Gardiner, Jeff Garzik, Claudius Gayle, Samir Gehani, Jim Gellman, Henrik Gemal, David Gerard, Rick Gessner, John Giannandrea, Bill Gibbons, Ro
    • Re:Credit (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      >now what was I going to say again?

      "First post", I think... ;-)
    • Brilliant, brilliant! Mod that up. It's also a nice way of responding to people who insist you say "Gnu/Linux".
    • I'm glad someone else had the points to mod you up. I saw this and immediately regretted that I'd blown my last couple of points earlier today.


      Although you did leave out Dennis Ritchie, Alan Turing, Charles Babbage, and the guy who invented the abacus. :-)

      Personally, I'm happy with a listing in the About box and a credits.txt file in the source code for my projects. If someone really cares who wrote the code, chances are they know where to look.

      I hate software that makes you sit through a credits
  • Oh please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fefe ( 6964 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:40PM (#5869480) Homepage
    Reiser has already lost countless users for his software because he started polluting the kernel messages with "a message from his sponsors".

    He should be more concerned with the quality of his software, not with his ego problems. Personally, I find this disgusting. If someone wants to know who wrote the software, he can read the README or ask google.

    I don't even have the slightest reference in my free software source code that point back to me, I don't even use huge copyright comments in my software like the GNU project generally does, and yet people have offered me jobs and asked me about my software many times. In general, the people who want to know who wrote the software, do.

    Those who try to rub it in their face all the time will cheapen free software for everyone. It's like the "I'm so important!1!!" freeware movement from MS-DOS, and I barely remember a single author from all the software that rubbed their copyright messages it in my face all the time. In contrast, I even learned to know several free software authors personally!

    Hans, people are losing data with your file system. I know because I did. Twice. Then I looked at your fsck code and it stunk to the high heavens. You should be concerned with that, not with putting your name in the face of more people.
    And what would be the next step? To insert a few seconds delay so people have a chance to see your messages better? Puleeze!
    • Yeah, I mean nobody will ever know who wrote ReiserFS - it sounds like this guy has a bit of a chip on his shoulder and ego problem going on. I think the whole "mandatory credit" thing was tried with the original BSD license, and it just becomes an onerous task because of the large number of contributers, copyright holders, and so on.

      I am all for giving credit where it is due, and I think commercial Linux distros should make a serious effort to thank those who've made their products possible, and contrib

    • As another commenter wrote "This can be tastefully done easily" as Hans has never done. My first exposure to Reiser was the kernel module info page, which, paraphrased and summarized said "if you want features, pay us money and we'll put them in". I had never seen an advertisement in GPL software before, and thank god I haven't seen one since. That stunk of unprofessional, badly designed code. The evidence is in the word-of-mouth reviews: ReiserFS has become incompatible with itself several times even

  • by Steffen ( 84872 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:40PM (#5869483)
    Here, go read:

    a fairly unpleasant thread [debian.org] started by Mr. Reiser himself.

    He has a point, but surely it doesn't hurt to be slightly less aggressive on these matters. Unless he enjoys being credited as an asshole...
  • Good idea, but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ectospasm ( 5186 )
    I don't think it's enforcible. If you make giving credits a requirement to use such-and-such a license, a developer will just create a new license without that restriction.

    And, you'd have balkanization on how it should be implemented. Boot messages? Splash screens? If users get annoyed with these, they'd want to turn them off, and someone would find a way to do so. If a user wants to know who wrote a piece of free software, many times this is not difficult to obtain.

    I guess I just see it as being une

  • by semanticgap ( 468158 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:43PM (#5869500)
    From the article: I propose that we as a community insist that all distros make the default screensaver be one that randomly displays a different detailed credit for one of the authors of Linux software every 60 seconds.

    Erm.. Is Python or Perl or Apache or Emacs - "Linux software"? What about FreeBSD or OpenBSD - that's hardly "Linux software"...

    I'm surprised to see someone as knowledgeable as Riser make such a blunder - or is it intentional?
  • Screensavers with credits? Splashscreens with credits?

    No-one wants this shit. If Hans wants to put it it reiserfs, let him feel free to, but I'll compile it all out, or switch to XFS.

  • a) If it's an OSS project, then if they're using a source control system, can't you see who wrote it? Or maybe there would be mailing list where someone could ask who wrote this cool code?

    b) I just have this horrible vision of millions of lines of credits buzzing past the screen as Linux boots...

    Give them credit, sure. Congrats to all the authors of the software on my box. But perhaps we are confusing who will see it, and whether they care. Having credits != giving credit.

    a) above is for those that reall
  • From the article:

    "I propose that we as a community insist that all distros make the default screensaver be one that randomly displays a different detailed credit for one of the authors of Linux software every 60 seconds."

    This will certainly be the doom for open source software, specially Linux. Would you, or any company use software that displayed beards and glasses every minute? Let me answer that for you: -For God's sake, I'll pay for It! just get off the screen!
  • I don't need people to see me in some splashs screen. In fact I presonaly hate splas screens, and remove them from every opensource project I use. It would be nice to see an "about" dialog w/ credit to thoes who helped, but to make something like that mandatory is rather asburd, and pointless. An example situation is found above; The developers will just make a new liscens w/o the "credit clause". Mr. Reiser isn't the first to suggest this, but his FS is used by many (not me tho, I don't like it)
  • No one cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by I_redwolf ( 51890 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @01:58PM (#5869574) Homepage Journal
    The users of the software probably won't care and most authors who write software really don't do it for fame or they could just plaster their names all over the software (which I rarely see). Perhaps there is something else motivating people to write software.. for instance.. If I sit down and write a zeroconf enabled server daemon for whatever it's probably because I need it or want to use it. Not for fame, because honestly, I could care less who used the shit so long as it worked for me. The blood, sweat and tears pays off in being able to have zeroconf enabled whatever. If other people can benefit then thats great, if they can help make it better thats another plus and if it helps someone else solve a problem in shorter time or makes their life easier then that's gold right there. Usually you get dumps of email from people thanking you for something you just wanted yourself.. It's great.. You get bored? Feel like moving on?? People who were helping with code tend to take up the slack and so the cycle continues.

    If people want to know who wrote the software they'll just look it up. I mean in GUI software there is an "About" dialog that exists solely for info such as stuff in cli utils at the start of the program you can put name of author and email address as most other people do. Or through it into a --help argc or something.

    Also the idea of having someones name plastered all over your personal computer doesn't make it feel that personal anymore. A user will just begin to tune the shit out, and if you write shit like BIND or BitchX etc you catch enough flack.
  • by YoungHack ( 36385 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @02:03PM (#5869598)
    I don't remember who said it on the Debian mailing list, but the sentiment was right:

    You can either have control, or you can write free software.

  • No! (Score:3, Informative)

    by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @02:11PM (#5869624) Homepage Journal
    RMS has a detailed analysis [gnu.org] of why the BSD advertising clause was a very bad idea in practice.

    Speaking for myself, I certainly wouldn't want to slap such a clause to anything I wrote. First, I think the egoboo factor is totally overstated. For instance, I wrote a small vocab building app called gretools [sourceforge.net]. I wrote it to scratch a personal itch: to help me with my gre preparation. Ego satisfaction had nothing to do with it. I released it only as an afterthought. Second, what's the point of having J. Random user being being forced to see your name? If you want to build a reputation as a programmer, you would want to build up that reputation with other programmers, which is what you get currenty because your name is in the source. In suspect, most users could consider it as unwanted ads/annoyance. We're trying to get people to use OSS by removing annoyances (like popup blocking), introducing our own forms of annoyance is self defeating. Third, Reiser specifically wants political statements irremovable and visible to users. This is bad. Being free means creating software without trying to impose your idealogy on others. There are practical problems too. You are unnecessarily limiting your user base. If, for instance, your political message included praise for the Falun Gong, it could well lead to any distro that includes your package being banned in the PRC, because you made your statement irremovable. I wonder how many programmers would choose to adopt such a license. Fourth, OSS companies are trying hard to stay afloat and make some money. The better these companies survive, the better your chances of becoming/staying gainfully employed coding Free software. Give them a chance. Don't view them as capitalist evil and impede them from establishing a brand.

    That's just my opinion. You are free to pick your license.

  • I am so sick... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @02:15PM (#5869638) Journal
    I'm so sick of people trying to cram ads down my throat just because they feel they can get away with it.

    Whether it's pop-up ads, spam, TV inset-credit ads, junk mail, telemarketing, ATM fees, TV channel logos, billboards, etc. The long and annoying list goes on and on and keeps growing.

    More and more, I'm getting pissed off about the multitude of intrusions on my time and attention. If I cared about whether brand A was better than brand B, i'd look into it myself, otherwise it's just an annoyance to be so informed.

    If anyone is particularly interested, or if the software is remarkable in some way, i.e. small, useful, or innovative, then people will find out who's responsible for authoring that piece of work if they care.

    But if they don't, then they don't want to endure YET ANOTHER GOD-DAMNED AD.

    If the software authors want credit for their work, that's fine, I don't begrudge them that. I'm a software author myself. In fact, I co-wrote one of the most popular ray-tracing programs out there, and my name is on the list of contributors.

    The actual software never had my name in it, just in the docs, but people knew me, and had no problem finding out who I was and how to get a hold of me for questions and advice.

    I still can list the software on my resume, if I feel that it's relevant to the position I'm seeking. When I do, most people recognise or have heard of it. The fame is still there waiting, bottled up until needed :)

    Anyhow, without being overbearingly egotistical, I managed to get and enjoy my 15 minutes of fame without pissing anyone off and without cramming my name down everyone's throat.
  • Yes, today I associate the name Reiser with the Reiser filesystem. But, first I thought of a French cartoonist Jean Marc Reiser (see a tribute page [ifrance.com][no, I'm not French]). If you haven't seen his cartoons before, go check them out. Beware, it is dirty underware humor, literally, and any connection with file systems seem farflung indeed.
  • my POV (Score:3, Informative)

    by FooMasterZero ( 515781 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @02:30PM (#5869710) Homepage
    I personally think this is silly really, and I have one piece of OSS under my belt. I do use a splash screen however it is easily turned off and all it does is show the product name, no different than Mozilla's splash screen. Credits about me or any other contributers are contained in the respectable 'About" screen of my application.

    Personally I feel credit is given to me in various ways.

    1. Downloads counts stay fairly consistent and gradually seem to be rising.
    2. Occasional email saying that they like it or even better sometimes coupled witha request for new feature or bug.
    3. Simply doing a google of my project shows sites all over the place.
    I figure people who give me credit on their own free will, by performing their own reviews and such good or bad, that certainly helps me to make better software and that is all i really want to do anyhow. It is diifcult enough to write something unique and useful these days and on top of that stand out in the mix of commerical apps. So people who have contributed to the linux kernal have obivous unspoken credit that they know companies like RedHat are using thier work, likewise with mozilla developers one being funded by AOL to some extent as wellas being used in AOL's software, to me that is credit and prestige that is pretty rare for most of the OSS projects out there.

    One day I hope to see my stuff being reused elsewhere, and as long as they just say it somewhere that i helped out, I couldn't ask for more.

  • by volkerdi ( 9854 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @02:32PM (#5869718)
    Hans has done an enormous amount of really high-quality work and deserves fair compensation and recognition for it. He's got every right to have his code display all the credits that he sees fit.

    On the other hand, the moment you say that these credits cannot be removed (or suppressed from being displayed by default) then you no longer have a fully free license. That's what the problem was with the old BSD license with the advertising clause (that used to make BSD code incompatible with the GPL until that was removed), and that's the same problem with invarient sections in the GNU Free Documentation License that caused such a stink recently. The GPL doesn't allow any additional restrictions either, and since Hans' code is available under the GPL, the best he can do is ask that people are respectful of the credits. There's no legal recourse if they aren't (other than maybe to get mad, and quit GPL'ing future versions). This leads to the question -- maybe there should be a new free software license that attempts to protect author credits while remaining otherwise free?

    That said, I'd have to say that anyone who would remove credits from free software simply because the license doesn't (or can't) prohibit it is being a rude parasite. A good member of the community has more respect for the contributions of others.
  • Adobe Photoshop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by exhilaration ( 587191 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @02:44PM (#5869777)
    Nobody's brought up the Photoshop splash screen - which lists quite a number of the developers, but in a very tasteful manner. I remember it because the first time I saw it, I thought to myself, "Cool, a lot of Indians were involved in this."

    I think a good way to credit a large number of developers, is to make a splash screen with the bottom quarter scrolling the names of authors/contributors. The user would simply have to click to proceed. That's unobtrusive and might even generate some interest in the user - who might one day stop and read the whole list.

    Or perhaps instead of requiring a click, have the splash screen time out after a few seconds, but put a button on it labeled "click here for the credits!" - again unobtrusive.

    But that still doesn't take care of stuff that doesn't have a GUI - like ReiserFS.

    • I agree. There is nothing wrong with taking credit for great work, so long as it's in an unobtrusive fashion, e.g. Photoshop.

      I personally like Windows 3.1's credits system. It's an easter egg within the program (windows 3.1 was not an operating system ;) where a combination of clicks and buttons in the right places transformed the "About Windows 3.1" section in the help menu of program manager into a scrolling credit system displaying everyone who worked on Windows, with a random little picture to the le
  • Look, people should get credit for their work. That's really a pretty simple basic moral. I don't agree with Reiser's method of achieving such (the advertisements displayed whenever using his utils), but we need to properly attribute credit.

    I'm also not sure I agree with the FSF' new documentation license that's coming out, having "invariable sections".

    It's very simple. What RedHat's doing is plaguarism. They have replaced the KDE symbol with one of their own; this implied to end-users that RedHat made it
  • If this is done (and I don't have a strong opinion on that one way or the other yet), the way to do it is to insist that the names of the authors be displayed at least as prominently as any other information relating to the distribution and packaging of the software. If a program displays no sign of branding, that's fine. If it displays "Red Hat", it has to display the names of the authors with equal or greater prominence.

    Remember "MacPaint by Bill Atkinson"?. For years, that appeared at the top of eve

  • 2 points (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mhesseltine ( 541806 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @03:18PM (#5869939) Homepage Journal

    One, I'm currently in the process of re-reading "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" by ESR. In it, he discusses how ego boosting is by nature frowned upon. I'm surprised that Hans has felt compelled to take this point up.

    Two, as others have pointed out, there are plenty of ways for authors to get recognition in a project.

    1. About screens
    2. Help screens
    3. README files
    4. Man pages
    5. Web pages
    6. Mailing lists
    7. Developer forums (sourceforge for example)

    Bottom line: grow up Hans.

    P.S. random "unknown" hackers

    • Larry Wall
    • Linus Torvalds
    • Richard Stallman
    • Andrew Tigdell
    • Guido van Rossum
    But Hans is right, programmers don't get credit for their work. /remove tongue from cheek
  • I'm not liking it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by foolip ( 588195 )

    I encourage more people to do as Linus and I have done.

    IIRC, Linus didn't name the kernel Linux, but indended to use some other (quite lame) name. It was the guy hosting it on ftp that namned the directory Linux, and such it became.

    While I agree that authors should have credit, I don't think there's any special need to enforce it. I know that a guy at LiTH wrote the file manager I ue (gnome-commander), I know RMS wrote Emacs, gcc and gdb. I know Larry Wall did Perl. Linus did Linux, along with Allan C

  • by dwillyson ( 63193 )
    If Hans or other software authors feel that they need to make everyone aware of how much they contributed by forcing it down the users neck then I suggest these authors stop writing GNU/OSF software and switch back either to Adware or Commerical licensing model.

    If the ego of these people is so big that the only way they will feel better is having people bow down and acknowledge that without them how mislerable our lives would be, then, I suggest that these assholes be asked to move to a platform which supp
  • I agree with Hans about the academic culture's value of giving credits. However, there are two points worth mentioning.

    1. Effective ways to give credit already exists:
      • AUTHORS and/or CREDITS file (also README): These come with practically all GNU projects, and shows up in the system documentation folders. At least, this is true with most Debian packages, and has to be true with other distributions since it seems to be something that the upstream author puts there.
      • About Dialogue: This is another place wh

  • by John Ineson ( 538704 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @04:51PM (#5870432) Homepage
    "This is why distros drop the K from all the KDE programs: somebody else is trying to establish a brand name, and that is a market threat they want to cut off."

    Have no illusions -- this is what Hans Reiser is worried about, his business. The morality of giving credit-where-due is a red herring.

    The debate that sparked this off was Debian removing 20-something lines of crap about sponsors from mkreiserfs. That scares him, because it weakens his power in promoting his sponsors and his brand.

    To which I say tough. The GPL was written to ensure that users could make software serve them. If a GPLed program spews unhelpful messages, then anybody has the right to remove them. Incidentally, it's undoubtedly justified in this case, when there's a screenful of rubbish, and the program is regularly used in stressful, recovery situations, potentially on a terminal with no scrollback.

    Nobody, I imagine, advocates removing authorship credits entirely, but the GPL does not guarantee free promotion for your company, sponsors, or anything else. If that's what you wanted, you were plain stupid to choose the GPL in the first place.

  • I agree.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by njan ( 606186 ) on Saturday May 03, 2003 @07:01PM (#5871134) Homepage
    ..with those who take the debian line; as someone anonymously posted to newsforge, "Even the FSF's attempt to require credit in the GFDL is being considered non-free by the Debian project"; and as he or she goes on to point out, Debian ARE usually fairly thorough on principled issues like this. The point, to my mind, of FREE software is that it's free. And whilst the word 'free' has the immediate connutation of lacking monetary compensation, that's not all that the word means. For me, for something to be free requires it not to have certain other obligations attached to it; it goes against my principles - and against the karma of the notion of free software - to tie advertising into freely distributed software in this way. If authors really can't do without this manner of crediting in projects which they've contributed to of their own free will, perhaps they shouldn't have contributed to them for free in the first place?

    How many slashdot readers run adware.. and why?.. how long might it be before 'free' software which had advertising in this manner decided that 'trading' adverts with other software authors would increase their user base? Really, it wouldn't take very much bending of the rules before free software looked like free websites. And do we really want geocities on our desktops?
  • I would seriously probably run it.... unless of course it were shoved down my friggin throat. Really bad idea to mandate any default screensaver, splash screen bash prompt, etc. in a "free" license. I mean that's just about the best example of an oxymoron I could think of.
  • I agree. But why do we need to deal with this issues in the form of license requirements? It's just enough to propose the idea. The actual contributors should be taking care of the details. Additionlly, splash screens don't have enough space to hold all of the contributors. Some names might have *higher* priorities, but who will decide the rankings? Will every developer be happy with the splash screen *policy*? The random display can be a workaround here, but I don't think it's a general solution that will

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley