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Freedows splits
TechnologyPosted by sengan on Monday August 31, @05:34PM
from the in-a-gigantic-nutshell dept.
The Freedows OS team has split into 2 camps: Freedows and the Alliance. This feature article presents the view of the Alliance, and has been written by Alliance Ambassador Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr. We hope to have a response to it from Freedows Project Lead Reece K. Sellin tomorrow.

The following feature was written by slashdot reader Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

Right now, the Alliance is a work in progress. Every member of Alliance wishes not to see the mistakes of the past (some of which contributed to the situation that lead to the creation of Alliance) to be repeated, and we are currently in the process of deciding how things should be. Shortly, things will get settled, and I can hand out a 'Final' of how Alliance is structured and the scope of development. But, as things stand, this statement is a decent aprasial of Alliance.

For those wondering exactly how quickly things can change during a time like this: When it came time to get a new server set up, Chris T. in the project got us set up with two servers. Ramon wrote the document that appears below and by the time that I send this, there's now three servers going to be handling project information... The project changed scope and names a little bit, and is now refered to as Alliance, the Alliance, Alliance OS (for the OS that results from the project), not the Alliance Kernel Project or variants (that may appear below - I haven't edited the content)


Though this is probably currently unknown to most people who are or have been involved in the Freedows project, there have occured several incidents on the management side of Freedows in the last few weeks that have led to the formation of the Alliance Operating System Kernel Project (which will be referred to as Alliance.) This document will attempt to explain some of the history and motives behind this project, as well as its goals and some of its management details.


The history of Alliance is still short and will be discussed briefly. We will not discuss the occurances in the Freedows project in detail, as these are irrelevant to this text. Suffice it to say, that there have been disagreements between the developers and leads of the Freedows project and the project lead, Mr. Sellin, in respect to his conduct in the management and public relations of Freedows. It has been attempted to come to an agreement on this matter; but unfortunately, this has turned out to be impossible. As the power hierarchy of Freedows has been set up in such a way by Mr. Sellin that his power is uncontrolled, the only option left was a mass resignation and reformation of the project under a different name, with similar design goals but different managment, as to solve the current problems and avoiding such a thing happening in the future.

Within the previous week, there has been a mass resignation of developers and non-developers from the Freedows project. Of the developers, the development lead, the kernel team lead, and both kernel team assistant leads have resigned, along with most other developers, including all of those developers who have been with the project longest and thus are most experienced with it. Even now still, developers are resigning, though most have done so already. Some of the developers are not informed about the current situation, which is one of the reasons this document was written. From the non-development side have also resigned many people. The most important of these is Davis Sickmon, the infamous Freedows project ambassador and public relations person. Also has resigned David Walluck, the HTML team lead, and others that have slipped my mind at the moment.

The resigned Freedows members have reunited to form a new project, for which the name Alliance has been adopted. (The name Alliance was thought of independently by Davis Sickmon and Daniel Arbuckle, after which it was adopted with the consent of the other recently resigned members. The name Alliance is also quite suitable, as it can be by pure coincidence shortened to AllOS.)

This document will attempt to explain the goals and some managment details of this project. While development is continuing as of old (the development lists are owned by Alliance members, and will be used for the time being for development for the Alliance project,) the new management policies are still being discussed. As much information will be given in this document as is currently available.


The goal of the Alliance project is to develop and maintain an operating system core based on the Caching Model of Operating System Functionality as developed as Stanford and as modified by the Alliance (previously the Freedows) development team, and on the Common Object Request Brokering Architecture as specified by the Object Management Group. Used in the development process will be the specifications created and maintained by the former Freedows and current Alliance members. The resulting final product will be called the Alliance Core System and will be released under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

The reasons for developing an operating system using such a model are described in detail in a Slashdot article about the Freedows project posted on August 27, 1998. In short, this model provides excellent emulation capabilities, a good environment for building a distributed system, as well as flexibility combined with speed.

It is not the goal of the Alliance project to provide emulation environments for every conceivable platform, as was originally put forth as goal for the Freedows project by its project lead. The Alliance team will probably port one or more existing open-source operating systems to function on top of the Alliance Core System, as to test the design and to provide a good starting point for the actual usage of the system. These operating system emulations will be distributed separately from the Alliance Core System, though.

Also, it is not the goal of the Alliance team to provide a working, ready to use distribution of the Alliance Core System together with operating system emulations and applications, userfriendly setup and configuration programs, etc. The forming of an end-user distribution will be left up to third parties, much like is the case with the Linux kernel and its distributions.

Finally, it is not the intention of the Alliance team to take over the world with its operating system, as was put forth as goal by the Freedows project lead. We hope to create an operating system that will be chosen above other systems for its merits; but the Alliance team makes no claims that this will be the case. The organisation of the Alliance Core is experimental and has never been tried, nor proven, before as far as we know. Thus, the real merits and faults of the system cannot be known until a working system has been built.


The new managment setup in the Alliance project is still being discussed. There are two schools of thought here.

The first school of thought wishes to retain a function similar to the former Project Lead in the Freedows team. This time around, though, the power of this function will be limited through a complicated set of back-control and veto rights. Moreover, unlike in the Freedows project, this lead would be democratically chosen by the project's members. A draft of a constitution has been posted by Davis Sickmon to the people directly involved in setting up the Alliance project. If this setup is chosen, the constitution will be finished, finalised, and made public.

The second school of thought wishes the Alliance project to be without lead. All decisions would be democratically voted by the people directly involved with the decision itself, where the decision will be taken according to the majority of votes.

Both systems are thought to avoid problems in the future like those that have caused the breakup from the Freedows project. More information will be made known when it is available.

Attitude towards Freedows

The Alliance project is not, and will never be, affiliated in any way with the Freedows project. It is our understanding that the Freedows Project Lead, Mr. Sellin, intends to continue the Freedows project even after having been deprieved of developers. The Alliance project has no bad feelings towards Freedows; we do not intend te steal any of its developers, or anything of the kind. All developers will be urged to think about the facts and to choose a project by themselves. It is not up to Alliance members to give them any advice on this matter. Also, as the Alliance Core will be distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, the Freedows project will be able to use the Alliance core as core for their project, if they wish.

On the other hand, let it be clear that any Freedows member, and most certainly Mr. Sellin himself, will have no jurisdiction whatsoever over and within the Alliance project.

The Alliance project would like to wish the Freedows project good luck in achieveing its goal (which is not exactly the same as the goal of the Alliance project, as we understand it.) We hope the Freedows project members will take this sportively and do the same.

Current course of action

In this paragraph, it will be attempted to give a projection about the immediate future of the Alliance project.

We are currently in the process of registring a new domain name,, for the Alliance project. The Freedows internet server, which is owned by Lloyd Duhon, the former Freedows development lead, will be put to service as the main Alliance Server for the time being, after the domain name has been returned to the Freedows project. We are also in the process of acquiring a new pair of servers, one Linux and one FreeBSD server, which will hopefully be able to get a high-bandwidth connection at the George Washington University (Cache Kernel developer Chris Trawick is negotiating on this front.) Within a couple of months, the new servers should be ready and will be used to provide WWW, FTP, and mailing list services, as well as a CVS repository for the development process and, if this turns out to be neccessary, perhaps even shell accounts for developers (Perhaps also other services, if they turn out to be needed.)

Official Alliance conferences will be held in the IRC channel #AllOS on EFNET (see for an EFNET server near you) though some of us will probably still be found in the channel #Freedows as well.

Development will continue as of old. As a matter of fact, developers shouldn't notice all that much of a difference, except for the fact that will be referred to Alliance in stead of Freedows in specifications and code. The old development mailing lists, and a whole range of subteam lists (freedows-ck, freedows-fssk, freedows-iosk, system-orb etc.) will be used for the Alliance project until the Alliance servers are up. Daniel Arbuckle, the kernel team lead, has posted an official declaration of independance to the main development list. The same declaration also goes for all subteam lists.

Davis Sickmon, former Freedows project ambassador, had, before resigning from Freedows, tried to fill some empty positions within the Freedows project. He has received a lot of responses from interested people, which have not been processed yet. Our attitude towards Freedows is, as was mentioned earlier, hard but fair. These people will be posted a message explaining the situation, and requested to make a choice themselves between the Freedows and the Alliance project.


Due to unresolvable problems with the management of the Freedows project a new project, Alliance, has been formed. This project has most of the former Freedows developers as its members. Development will continue undisturbed.

We hope to have informed you enough about the situation and about the Alliance project to be able to make a choice between Freedows and Alliance. We urge anybody who reads this message to use his own judgement in this choice.

If you have any more questions, or if you would wish to join the Alliance project, you can mail either Davis Sickmon or Daniel Arbuckle . They (we) will be glad to help you.

Thank you for reading this,

The Alliance Team

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Update: 2001-09-13 12:00 by michael:

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