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No More BitKeeper Linux 958

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."
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No More BitKeeper Linux

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  • I cant wait (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wizy ( 38347 ) <greggatghc@NOSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:05AM (#12154215) Journal
    I cant wait for the "I told you so" articles. Lets put money on whose will be best. I have my money on Richard Stallman.
  • by Sanity ( 1431 ) * on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:06AM (#12154231) Homepage Journal
    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.

    Having quickly read the RTFA, it looks like the motivation behind BitMover's hissy-fit was that a contractor of OSDL was working on reverse engineering BitKeeper's protocol in his spare time, and OSDL must have refused to, or failed to make him to stop (ouch, threatening someone's job to make them stop doing open source in their spare time, not cool!). BitMover's CEO claims to be on the side of open source, yet last time I checked interoperability was a good thing, and reverse engineering was a legitimate way to achieve it. Not according to CEO Larry McVoy, to him reverse engineering is evil, and those that do it are "bad apples" that should be punished by the rest of the open source movement.

    Of course, lots of this is my own suppositions based on reading between the lines of the article, I am sure if I have got anything wrong people will be quick to correct me.

  • In it for the money (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kevster ( 102318 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:10AM (#12154273)
    Note that Larry McVoy has pointed out that the number of improvements to the commercial version due to suggestions from Open Source developers has been dropping sharply. To me, that means "giving free copies to these guys has been beneficial to my bottom line, but isn't doing much for me lately, in the financial sense". It sounds like this reverse-engineering issue is a smokescreen, a scapegoat for cutting off the "freeloaders" (those contributing to improving the product).

    So, he's in it for the money. Is anyone surprised?
  • Bitkeeper (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Kaamoss ( 872616 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:11AM (#12154282) Homepage
    I don't understand why the community is up in arms about Linus using a different tool for kernel development. If that's what he feels most productive using, what difference does it make? On a side note, found an interesting wiki on the history of bitkeeper http://www.osdl.org/cgi-bin/osdl_development_wiki. pl?action=history&id=OSDL_Bitkeeper.Osdl.Org_How_T o [osdl.org] It's a realativly interesting read if you want to know more about it.
  • More info (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Virtual Karma ( 862416 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:11AM (#12154286) Homepage
    Read this discussion on /. for more more info: http://developers.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/0 3/18/0255216&tid=156&tid=162&tid=106 [slashdot.org]
  • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 ( 812236 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:16AM (#12154330) Journal
    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.

    User loyalty means nothing anymore. It's all about the bottom-line.
  • by keesh ( 202812 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:22AM (#12154413) Homepage
    Subversion, sadly, is unusably slow once you go over a thousand or so files. It ended up being around twelve times slower than CVS (ouch) on tests with a ~120k files repo. Painful, and it's a real shame, since it's a far nicer technology.
  • by Wizy ( 38347 ) <greggatghc@NOSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:29AM (#12154503) Journal
    It was hurting the bottom line. As he says in the article it costs them money to develop both versions since the open source one has different requirements from the commercial one.

    It takes time and resources away from the commercial one as well. With all of that, it was hurting the bottom line now that they werent getting enough return on the investment.
  • Larry never got it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nagora ( 177841 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:31AM (#12154526)
    Larry goes on about how pro-open source he is but anyone that licences products with a restriction on what the users can do in their own free time is an arsehole. If MS had produced an EULA for Word that said it can't be used by people who use Acrobat Distiller, they would have rightly been scorned. Same goes for Larry and his odious BitKeeper restrictions.


  • Excellent! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:34AM (#12154556)
    "I have to say that the open source community couldn't have failed more than they have" -- Larry McVoy

    Thanks for that Larry, and good riddance.
  • by kebes ( 861706 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:36AM (#12154591) Journal
    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"

    So linus apparently thinks that the increased productivity over the three years is enough to offset the pain that he must now endure to switch to a new system. (We'll have to ask Linus again after he actually endures the switch!) So from the pragmatic point of view, there is still a valid argument for using a superior product, even if support may discontinue at any time. It is a calculated risk that may be more efficient in the long run.

    That having been said, I strongly support OSS and free software on ideological grounds, but Linus' argument has always been one of productivity, not ethics.
  • by Teckla ( 630646 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:37AM (#12154597)

    Wow, non-free software vendor decides to drop support for a piece of software leaving their loyal users out in the cold.

    Users that don't pay for the product, and thus, don't help support the development of that product. In my opinion, that means BitKeeper doesn't owe those users anything. I wouldn't owe you a free lunch tomorrow, just because I supplied you with a free lunch today.

    Having quickly read the RTFA, it looks like the motivation behind BitMover's hissy-fit was that a contractor of OSDL was working on reverse engineering BitKeeper's protocol

    It sounds to me like BitKeeper was not only perfectly within their rights to stop supplying the free version, but even had justifiable motivation.

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

    by ultrabot ( 200914 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:40AM (#12154638)
    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.

    Still, it must be said that I can hardly think any more convincing example of the superiority of OSS than what just happened.

    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.

    Arch is probably the only one that will do. Or something that follows the arch protocol like 'bazaar'. Too bad bazaar-ng won't be ready in time... But with arch-like repositories, there is a minimal amount of lock-in.
  • by nagora ( 177841 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:40AM (#12154642)
    With all of that, it was hurting the bottom line now that they werent getting enough return on the investment.

    Except that every copy sold is a return on the investment in the early stages, which will continue into the future. What he's actually saying is that there isn't enough of an *increase* in the return on the investment.

    Put it this way: is Larry going to take out all the improvements due to bug-hunting and suggestions now that the Kernel is leaving? I don't think so.

    Nothing was preventing them from forking the product and just saying "Free version now bug-fixes only, guys", but old Larry wanted his cake and eat it too: free publicity, free testing, free design ideas, and a no-compete clause. Great if you can get it.


  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ABCC ( 861543 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:41AM (#12154657)
    About 50 posts and nobody has suggested the possibility that M$ could have paid off Bitkeeper in a move to "hurt" linux, has everyone left their conspiracy hats at home today?
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wizy ( 38347 ) <greggatghc@NOSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:42AM (#12154665) Journal
    Beleive me, I am on the same side as you. From what I could tell the majority will be able to say "I told you so" now. That aside, arch is the only one that has a strong focus on decentralization but as you say it isnt as mature as cvs or subversion. This could be a big enough catalyst to get a few of these groups of people to work together. Wouldnt be a bad thing to see some of the good ideas and implementations in arch and subversion merged. Of course I realize this is a pretty unlikely event (sort of like gnome and kde merging efforts entirely,) but it would be a huge step forward for completely free SCM.
  • Re:Freedom matters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskettNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:43AM (#12154672)
    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.

    Even switching between F/OSS applications isn't fun. Ever had to migrate between sendmail and qmail? Or sendmail and postfix? Or postfix and qmail? All apps are "open" in that the source is still there, but they are both, actually, very proprietary. They all are configured differently, all use their own settings file, file naming conventions, and formats. It's open, but still, completely a mess.

    You assume that if you choose a GNU/Linux app once, at one time, that you will stay with that, for all time. That's not the case in the real practical world of software use cases. People change, and their requirements change, and the software changes.

    The theoretical, big picture idea that F/OSS is able to be maintained by anyone if the original maintainer disappears or abandons the project is of little use in most cases. I am a programmer, but frankly, if the PHP team stops maintaining PHP3 I am not going to keep up with bugfixes and security patches. I am going to bite the bullet and upgrade to PHP4/5. It's going to be a hassle, I'll have to deal with it. Sure, I could maintain those earlier 3.x builds, but I am not going to. It's a waste of time. It's a waste of effort. It's more work than its worth.

    F/OSS is often practical, but trust me, I tell you from experience, it can often be as difficult, time consuming, and expensive to move between F/OSS platforms as from a proprietary solution to a new proprietary solution. It is no gurantee that because an app is free or open that it is flexible and easy to switch in and out of. Quite often proprietary solutions actually convert better between packages: at a client site I was contracted to "upgrade" their Windows based mail server. The replacement mail server package they wanted actually had a built in conversion between the competition and their own. Three clicks, and everything was done. Proprietary yes, but practical, very much so.
  • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:54AM (#12154845) Homepage Journal
    I don't think this at all indicates that Linus was wrong about using BitKeeper. BitMover is going to continue to host bkbits, there's an open source version with limited functionality (which, presumably, will be extended to more complete functionality by the community), and the existing licenses are still valid. They're just not going to do further development on the free version, and so it's time to look at alternatives, not actually switch.

    Linus has just posted to the mailing list saying that he is about to stop using BitKeeper, but only so that he can evaluate other things by actually throwing his real work at them. Most likely, in a week he'll say that there's one he likes best, but it's not ready, and he's going back to using BitKeeper until it is.

    Personally, I think that the free and the licensing issues surrounding it have hurt BitMover more than helped it; there have been people who have reported that BitMover refused to sell them the commercial version when they were ineligable for the free license, and I suspect that this has contributed to the idea that BitKeeper might be the best SCM out there, but BitMover is too nuts to do critical business with.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wizy ( 38347 ) <greggatghc@NOSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:05PM (#12154998) Journal
    As another reply, this quoting Linus himself:
    "PS. Don't bother telling me about subversion. If you must, start reading up on "monotone". That seems to be the most viable alternative, but don't pester the developers so much that they don't get any work done. They are already aware of my problems ;)"

    Seems he is already looking into using it.
  • by brettw ( 27391 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:18PM (#12155159)
    They dropped Teamware because Larry left. Teamware is BK's immediate predecessor.

    In my experience, nothing has all of these things. I use BK at work, but before I ended up there I tried pretty much everything.

    Like Larry himself says, BK doesn't have a killer feature. It has a great model and lots of little features that hang together well.

    I hope this event will push open source SCM development to approach the quality of BK.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:20PM (#12155205) Homepage
    Arch and Subversion are both worthy and usable systems right now, and many projects are already working happily with one or the other.

    Subversion is entirely inappropriate. Linus prefers the distributed revision control tools. Subversion uses a centralised repository.

    Monotone, arch and svk are all options. My money's on monotone.

  • well, that cuts both ways... how many people worked on the kernel, that wouldn't have if Linus had listened to the people who wanted to keep using something as broken as CVS until some hypothetical distributed open-source version control system got ready for use?
  • by kfogel ( 1041 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:49PM (#12155676) Homepage

    "Unusably slow" over a thousand files or so is totally unexpected, and not my experience at all.

    The Subversion tree itself has more than a thousand files, yet we don't have any speed problems. I'd like to know exactly what you're observing, and what might be causing it.

    keesh, would you mind describing the your slowness problems on users@subversion.tigris.org? Thanks.

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

    by rpdillon ( 715137 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:00PM (#12155819) Homepage
    This distopia you speak of where people are subscribing to software is in fact a utopia.

    A subscription model to software is in fact how it *should* be. Introversion, the three-man coding team in the UK that codes out of their bedrooms, just released a new game called Darwinia. In their interviews, they talked a bit about their last release, Uplink, and mentioned how odd it was to work 10s of thousands of hours with no pay, and then suddenly stop work, and get tons of money. They pointed out that this was VERY different from just about every other job model, including entertainers like rock bands, who make most of their money touring (making money as they work). Obviously, anyone who is salaried or gets hourly wage also makes the money as they work. Not so with independent developers.

    In fact, I would go even further and say the GPL lends itself to a subscription model. While I don't love Transgaming, they understand how it should work. People keep thinking that software is a "product", one that we box up and sell on shelves in a store. It isn't. Software, more than ever, is an ongoing relationship between the users and the developers. The GPL captures this, and so does a subscription model. I don't like MS anymore than the next Slashdotter, but if they are really looking at subscription, that is a good way to go. The developers get paid as they work, which means they always have an incentive to fix bugs, add features, streamline code, etc., because they continue to get paid to do so. It also allows them to release at least some of their code under GPL, because you're not just paying for the code, you're paying for the ongoing work on the code. Anytime you want to stick with where you are (keep the current version), you can. But if you want to get the most up-to-date fixes, pay for the time they spent to do that work, or, do it yourself with the old codebase.

    I honestly believe that this is the way software should work. Software should never be sold, but people can still make a living writing it. Basically, developers should sell their time and talent, not the software.

    Now, MS might be doing a model more along the lines of "You can only use Office 2017 as long as you pay...if you don't pay, no more Word for you!". This is also a subscription model, and it clearly isn't a good option. But not *all* subcription models are bad, and in fact, as I've said, some are good.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Deusy ( 455433 ) <charlie@noSPam.vexi.org> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:16PM (#12156041) Homepage
    You might also consider Darcs [darcs.net], whose website also keeps a copy of the Linux source in a repo.

    It's decentralized and all that jazz. A darcs repo is hosted over http (or ssh) so it doesn't impose much in terms of hosting requirements.

    The only downside is perhaps that it's written in Haskell and that some distros don't have great support for the Haskell packages Darcs needs.
  • by Hangtime ( 19526 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:37PM (#12156340) Homepage
    Excellent analogy and good point. I would refine it further for this piece.

    Your friends want to go out of state but you drive a Ford POS and don't feel comfortable driving it that far. A kind stranger upon hearing this has two cars and doesn't drive the late-model Toyota Camary and tells you you can drive it if you just help make repairs on it. The stranger also says not to drive out of state because his insurance won't cover you if you do.

    Your group of friends howl at this and say you should be able to drive anywhere you want. Go ahead and take your Ford POS they say will work on it making it better and if you break down will give you a boost. Against their wishes you decide to take the Camary.

    The first few months are great, you have a good car and you return the favor by putting a stereo in it, tires, get it washed regularly, etc. You and the stranger are both happy. Then your group of friends start telling you "the car looks to good, he's going to sell it, lets take it out while we still can." You resist but later find find out your friends took the car out anyway across the state.

    The stranger finds out and asks you not to do it again, but your friends just knowing that the stranger is going to sell it decide to do it again anyway.

    The stranger at this point cannot trust you so he decides to sell the car. Your friends all howl once again telling you "We told you so, we told you should have just worked on the Ford and that he would sell it."

    So whose at fault,

    The stranger for loaning you a good car and taking all the changes you made with him.

    You for using the car for a couple of months and being able to get around well instead of in the Ford POS.

    The group of friends who told you the stranger would sell the car at some point but also took it joyriding.

    You make the call.
  • by natet ( 158905 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:45PM (#12156457)
    I'm suprised I haven't heard SVK mentioned yet. It uses the subversion file system, but uses the concept of distributed repositories, much like bitkeeper or arch. I can't vouch for its performance, as I have not used it on a large project, but it seems like it could be a possible replacement for bitkeeper.
  • by LordNimon ( 85072 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:46PM (#12156460)
    There's nothing slimy about the license. BitMover provided a free version of their product, which costs them $500K/year to develop and support, in exchange for a promise not to use BK to develop a competing product. What's wrong with that?

    If BitMover had never provided a free version in the first place, no one would be complaining! Yet now we have a bunch of schmucks who are upset because it's only partially free. If you don't like the license, then just don't use the product. BitMover's license was very reasonable.

    Are OSDL employees allowed to call the ambulance if they see this guy bleeding to death on the street, or is that forbidden too (on account of aiding/facilitating further reverse engineering of BitKeeper)?

    Now you're just being stupid. The agreement that BitMover made with OSDL was very benign, and you're making it sound as if they wanted someone's first-born in exchange.

  • Wheel reinvention (Score:3, Interesting)

    by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:52PM (#12156529) Homepage Journal
    Actually, I sometimes still find myself having to re-invent the wheel because all the open source wheels are square or weigh 3 tons. The basic idea is good, though...
  • More examples (Score:3, Interesting)

    by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:58PM (#12156618) Homepage Journal
    Another example was IN CONTROL being bought by their main competitor, then the product killed with no migration path, leaving me with all my personal organization data in a dead application.

    Or Adobe killing PageMill, without offering anything comparable my wife could use to update her web site.

    Or Apple killing the Newton, leaving me with all my personal organizer data in a dead product.

    Or Corel killing WordPerfect for the Mac, leaving people with thousands of documents and no easy way to convert them to a supported product.

    Incidentally, stranded VB6 developers can get a free REALbasic license [realsoftware.com] rather than being forced to migrate to .NET, and as an added bonus it'll let them make their code run on Mac and Linux too. (I submitted that to Slashdot as a story but it was rejected, I guess availability of RealBasic applications doesn't matter to Linux.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:01PM (#12156654)
    You're basically restating what he's said. Yes both sides are doing what's in their interests (that's human nature). HOWEVER the problem is that the "lone wolf" nature of OSS is the opposite of what's needed to function in an interdependent society. Great if you want to build a software commune, bad if you want to build something more complicated.
  • too slow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fourier ( 60719 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:11PM (#12156774) Journal
    Darcs is nice, but it doesn't (yet) perform well enough for regular kernel development. The patch reordering algorithms work by loading the entire history in memory, which does not scale well to large trees.

    Darcs is, at the moment, a nice system for smaller projects.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:22PM (#12156906) Journal
    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.
    It wasn't about reverse-engineering the product, it was about a protocol. And yes, it is too much to ask - close your code as much as you like, but give us the specs, or at least let us reverse-engineer. Protocols must be open.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:37PM (#12157051)
    I don't know, but take a look at the jobs section of the computing press some day, and see what percentage of Programmers Wanted (especially with the emphasis on the plural) ads are that are for actual, bona-fide, software companies.

    The 10% figure definitely "feels right", based on experience. It's funny, of all my collegues and the other programmers I know, I only know one that actually worked/works for a software house, he works for IBM, and he doesn't actually work on any of their packaged software products. True fact.

  • by bani ( 467531 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:45PM (#12157132)
    on the other hand, svk [elixus.org] does support distributed repositories. and it works with subversion.

    RCS and CVS are definitely non-starters.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bheading ( 467684 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:49PM (#12157174)
    But it's true, linus didn't consider the nature of what he was using and got burned.

    Burned ? This statement is utterly ignorant of the dynamics within the kernel development process whenever BK was adopted. Linus, outstanding engineer that he is, was overloaded and was at the brink of hitting the bricks - the volume of work coming into the kernel was too much. The adoption of BK not only rescued the kernel development process from the brink of the abyss but increased by an order of magnitude the degree of change getting integrated.

    Linus and Greg KH have both put out statements to the effect that they have greatly valued BK's use in the kernel and that they will learn lessons from it. If they got burned don't you think they'd have said so ?
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HiThere ( 15173 ) * <{ten.knilhtrae} {ta} {nsxihselrahc}> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:29PM (#12157764)
    It appearantly was VERY good while it lasted. It was also predictable (and predicted) that it would last...the questions were about how long it would last. (Well, the non-religious questions. Which *were* most of them. Some people have just been burned more badly by proprietary software than others, and are thus more averse to using it. That's not being religious, that's avoiding the hot stove.)

    OTOH, it may have been a worthwhile experiment. The software now being considered, monotone, didn't even EXIST when the migration to BitKeeper started. Even now FreshMeat rates it as Alpha. (OUCH! That makes me nervous.)

    But I am glad that the cord is being cut, even if I may be dubious about the timing. It's necessary that the tools, even more than the software, of the FOSS community be under a Free Software license.
  • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:35PM (#12157851) Journal
    I quoted from one of the bottom paragraphs in the article and asked for clarification. Do you honestly think I didn't read the damned thing already?

    What I want to know is, how do these large companies that are making contributions to linux like IBM etc track the tree and submit their patches etc through BitKeeper as McVoy stated they would continue to do when Linus and Co no longer have access to it?

    BTW, if you're going to get all arrogant and open your post with "RTFA", perhaps you could RTFQ next time and answer it instead of just flapping your gums.
  • Re:Freedom matters (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jimwelch ( 309748 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (kohclewmij)> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:55PM (#12158084) Homepage Journal
    Pain is still pain. My IDE at work (MS shop) was using codewright which is now gone.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kelleher ( 29528 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @04:01PM (#12158157) Homepage
    I accept that it might have been the only working solution at the time, but Linus would have done better if he'd said it was temporary until a good Open Source product came along.

    Linus did say that. What part of "I will use the best tool for the job" was unclear? The best tool was proprietary with a very friendly non-commercial license. Go through the Kernel Cousins archives - on multiple occasions Linus said he would switch to an Open Source product as soon as one existed that met his needs.

    All the people saying "I told you so" now are the same people that didn't bother to get off their high horses and pay attention to Linus' position. These are the people who ignored Linus' challenge to put up or shut up, i.e. quick whining and write an open source version control system that would meet his needs. An Open Source advocate that merely complained instead of writing code is a hypocrite in my book.

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

    by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @04:46PM (#12158718) Homepage
    It was a mistake to agree to work with a company run by Larry McVoy in first place. Some of us remember previous McVoyisms from time past. Namely lmbench.

    For a long time it was the best stress testing tool for Linux (and Unix for that matter). In fact if you look back around 1995 it was the de-facto standard for both performance and stress testing. That continued until Larry got pissed off at someone (forgot exactly what, look in lkm for the mid-nineties). So the tool went unmaintained and into oblivion.

    There is no point to try working with people like this on any large project. They take stuff which is "just business" personally. They also get pissed off personally when someone finds a weakness in their way to do business and exploits it legally. So on so fourth.

    My first reaction when BM surfaced 3 years ago was "Oh no... Not another lmbench". And I see that I was right...
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @04:55PM (#12158819) Homepage Journal
    Divert the resources in the demonstratably finite pool of OS developers to create a tool which met the need. Divert resources to adapt to the tool as it evolves. Lose effort and suffer inefficiencies as long as the evolving tool fails to support critical requirements.

    I've been to this argument before. I remember when it was about why I should accept TrollTech's non-Open-Source license on Qt. People who did not want to accept that started GNOME. And as GNOME came along and threatened to eclipse their work, TrollTech was convinced to Open Source the Qt library. Their company literally took off with that decision. It's much, much larger now. But there never had to be a GNOME if TrollTech had only figured things out earlier.


  • by the-build-chicken ( 644253 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @05:30PM (#12159203)
    I have to say, as a developer I see this as a resounding failure on the part of the open source community to self regulate. I quite regularly talk to software organisations that would like to open source part of their product or a less feature rich version. The reasons for this are usually altruistic...but at the same time, they don't want to have their whole business taken away from them and end up in the poor house...so they err on the side of caution.

    Bitkeeper offered their free (yes I know) version for open source development. They spent a lot of money developing proprietary, innovative and unique IP and, in support of the open source development community, decided to let them use it at no charge (if they wanted to). The open source community, in contrary to the licence agreement, tried to steal that IP and put bitkeeper out of business.

    I see so many posts saying "don't want to honour the GPL, don't use open source"...how about the open source community practice what it preaches?! They accepted bitkeeper and had a massive surge in productivity...they accepted the license, accepted the benefits but didn't honour the agreement...something the community is always complaining about with other companies.

    The reverse engineering efforts show in no uncertain terms that the open source community can't be trusted to their honour. That they put their beliefs about everything needing to be open above their word. Their word is worth nothing.

    This is a sad, sad day for business/open source relations. The efforts to steal bitkeepers technology is dispicable.

    I'm a developer who regular assists on mailing lists and has contributed not an insignificant number of bug fixes to open source products, but I also want a job in 5 years that pays me more than praise, and I see this as an open act of aggression against a commercial entity that did nothing more than offer free use of their IP to help speed up development.
  • by Kent Recal ( 714863 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @05:52PM (#12159383)
    I suggest anyone who's looking for "something better than CVS" to take a tour through the monotone documentation [venge.net].

    These docs are just excellent (reading is believing!) and provide a great intro to the monotone src control system. Monotone is decentral (a bit like bitkeeper), keeps the repository in a single file (yay!), does 3-way merges and, on top, the syntax appears to be bearable!
    Try darcs or arch for a day and you'll understand why I had to make that last part bold...

    I'm giving it a testride right now and according to this [loglibrary.com] rumor Linus has it on his radar, too...
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rzbx ( 236929 ) <slashdot@rzbx.COBOLorg minus language> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @07:27PM (#12160281) Homepage
    "Regardless of what he claims, the end result of everyone adopting the GNU philosphy is that noone would make a living writing software."

    Far from true. Where would software come from? Space? Monkeys? Space monkeys?

    Someone will have to write the software. And I can assure you people will not be writing it for free without some sort of income to live on. Software serves a purpose. When a new purpose needs to be served, someone will be hired to write software for it, or will write it themselves to serve that purpose.

    What most fail to realize is that ultimately, free software must dominate in a free world. But, because the world is not perfect, and there is a vast amount of proprietary software, it is difficult for some to make an income writing free software. If one thought deeply on the subject and looked at the GPL, one would realize the purpose behind this license. But some simply see what is in front of them. They do not see what will happen 10, 20, 100 years from now. They do not see the problems that stem from proprietary licenses. They do not see what is not directly in front of them.

    You, like most people that fail to understand the importance of the open source/free software movement will continue to live your lives day in and day out just trying to make a living. And those that care more about the future of software, RMS/etc. will continue to fight whether or not anyone else cares. I am thankful for the work that all these people do.

    I do not know of anyone that is arguing that software should be written for free. They are arguing about the strings attached to the work they do.

    Many in the propriety world are still under the assumption that software is like a product that should be written, packaged, shipped, and forgotten about. This thiking will inevitably fail in the long run, and the change to services (from products) started a long time ago.

    But like I said, the world is not perfect. It will take time for people to realize the importance of keeping software open (no monopolies on ideas). It will take time for economies, companies, governments, etc. to adjust.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bheading ( 467684 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @08:53PM (#12161030)
    About as happy as they have been with GCC bugs. They have seen more than their share of those, and they will deal with them in the same way.

    I don't think it's the same issue, Bruce. If GCC is broken you use the previous version. Easy.

    If your revision control database gets corrupted due to a bug, you need to wait for someone to fix it. Integration work is suspended while it gets sorted out. Testers can't grab the latest kernel because the database is offline, their work stops too. Unless there is someone employed as a full time SCM administrator how will development proceed unimpeded ?

    Couldn't I apply all of your arguments to Open Source in general? Shouldn't they be using Microsoft C and Visual SourceSafe for the wonderful support they'd get?

    For these things to work properly you need support. I use "support" in it's loosest term, ie "someone nearby who knows about the program and is able to help". You need people who know how it works to fix it for you when it breaks. VSS isn't very good, in fact M$ don't even use it for their own work internally, bit of a sham really. I wouldn't tell anyone to use a product the vendor itself didn't even trust. Even CVS is better than VSS.

    Regarding MS C, the thing is that GCC, unlike the various OSS SCM systems, meets the "good enough" definition. That brings me to the next big question which I have, which is - would GCC or the rest of the GNU toolset ever have reached the point they have if proprietary operating systems such as Solaris or HP-UX did not exist for Stallman and his successors to develop on ? It seemed more than acceptable to the GNU people to work along with proprietary systems when no usable alternative was available (it's a pity that does not apply in the case we are discussing). How fortunate we are that Bell/AT&T were not a little more careful when it came to looking after their source code.

    Linux has developed quickly (compared with ideologically pure examples such as the Hurd) because it bends the rules a little bit and borrowed the rich pickings from the commercial world. Strictly speaking binary modules are a breach of the GPL, but Linus and the developers bent the rules. If they didn't, a significant number of machines today would not run Linux or would not support advanced graphics or wireless devices under Linux. An even stricter application of the GPL might suggest that BIOSs and bootloaders used to bootstrap machines, not only your x86s but your SPARC boxen and IBM big-iron, come under it's licensing remit.

    What you have to accept is that successful open source projects are where they are today because a proprietary platform existed to bootstrap them into feasibility. Commercial organizations are playing along because they expect to get out what they put in. It doesn't matter who it is - IBM, Red Hat, Intel with their drivers, Bitmover or anyone else. In each of those cases you can bet your bottom dollar that if any of those companies start to believe that open source involvement is undermining their intellectual property base, they'll pull out and start invoking their patents.

    Whatever they were thinking of, it didn't work. That's business - sometimes you lose. It seems that others have better ideas than Subversion.

    That's the other problem, there's about a zillion of them, and all of them are so-so. Especially when it comes to SCM, for some unfathomable reason, people seem to prefer to go and reinvent the wheel to build their own system, rather than step in to help improve someone else's. After the BK flamewars on LKML go away, the next series of fun and exciting instalments to look forward to will be long drawn out criticism over the system that Linus eventually chooses as a replacement.
  • Re:I cant wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dvdeug ( 5033 ) <dvdeug@em[ ].ro ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @10:01PM (#12161612)
    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.

    If you want the business community to not copy your product, then you better have legal safeguards, and even that often won't stop them. How can you honestly expect that the entire free software community would avoid trying to reproduce a sucessful product?

    It's way, way too much to ask.

    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.

    So proprietary software producers are free to copy whatever they want--and you know they will--but you expect the free software community to roll over and play dead?
  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:46AM (#12163134)
    Why, Linus will use Perforce, of course!

    As many /. readers know, Perforce is quite an expensive proprietary SCM system. However, several things are quite true about it:

    • You can download any SCM software that Perforce makes for free.
    • If you download the Perforce server itself, you are limited to two users and two client workspaces, but you get to use the software for free nonetheless.
    • There are plenty of fine applications related to SCM that you can get from Perforce, such as graphical interfaces, interactive diff tools, etc. These are free to download and use.
    • Here's the best part: Perforce offers free licenses to open source free software projects that it deems worthy. There are a few hoops you have to jump through, and your project actually needs to be open source, but I think Linux qualifies, and I think Perforce would be thrilled to have the whole world know that Linux is developed with Perforce.
    Disclaimer: I do NOT work for Perforce, but I do use their product at work, and I can tell you that it is a million times better than CVS, and a hundred thousand times better than any other commercial SCM I've used. I haven't compared it to Subversion yet, because Subversion offers several cool things that Perforce doesn't. But Perforce is a great choice. Screw this Bitkeeper nonsense.
  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @03:21AM (#12163451) Homepage
    With the following:

    This license explicitly forbids running BitKeeper.

    There you frikkin' go, Larry, half of your business is GONE. :0)

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer