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Hans Fugal hans at
Wed Apr 6 17:44:47 MDT 2005

Josh, you seem to be a BitKeeper apologist. If you don't like that
label, please explain to us why you're not because we want to give you
the benefit of the doubt.

"Larry explained that a contracter still under pay from OSDL for an
unrelated project was also actively working on reverse engineering the
BitKeeper protocol. Discussion began about five weeks ago to try and
resolve the situation, getting so far as to obtain a verbal agreement
that the individual would stop his efforts. After that time, however, it
turned out that the reverse engineering effort had continued. Although
OSDL wasn't directly paying for the reverse engineering effort, they
were still employing someone who was actively developing a competing
product, something the free BitKeeper license doesn't allow."[1]

If this _contractor_ agreed to stop, then it was a lame thing for him to
continue. I don't know what "reverse engineering" means here, but _if_
it means he was using bk and developing something else then he was going
against the bk license. But I don't know enough about what he was doing.

What I do know (from what I have read) is that OSDL didn't pay this guy
to reverse engineer it. The only thing OSDL could do is fire him, not
based on his performance but based on what he develops in his spare time.
How would you, as an employer, like to be in that pickle? What would you

Now for my own opinions. I've read more than a few posts about bk and by
Larry in lkml archives, and my own opinion is that the divorce from bk
and Mr. McVoy is a good thing no matter how it comes about. I think it
will be a GREAT thing for whichever not-quite-ready SCM gets picked to
take its place. I just hope the project leads can absorb the flurry of
activity without forcing a fork, since that's never fun.

I think what has happened here is very simple: Larry needed the prestige
and Linus needed something like bk. Larry doesn't need the prestige any
more, and this OSDL employee thing is a good excuse to cut loose. Does
that make Larry a bad guy? Not necessarily. He's just following the
greenbacks. The take-home lesson here is that a proprietary license for
a beer-free product can not be trusted like an open source license can.
With open source there is no forced EOL of a product, only a change of
maintainership. If bk were open source, bk would be being forked now.

Would we have been better off if Linus didn't use bk at all? I can't
say. I really don't know. Life is funny that way - even in hindsight
it's hard to know if the decision was really right or wrong.


 .O.  Hans Fugal            | De gustibus non disputandum est.
 ..O | Debian, vim, mutt, ruby, text, gpg
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