It blew up for *political* reasons, not for *technical* reasons.
Yes. And since we live in a political world where technology always have to bend to political realities, they cannot and should not be ignored.
Great thinkers, like Stallman, recognise this, and hence does "over the top" things like starting writing a free compiler and invent the very concept of software freedom, i.e. they focus on the political, that which out nothing much can exist. Lesser thinkers, like Linus Torvalds, doesn't, instead thinking that technology and the development of complex technical systems can exist in a vacuum, and hence puts himself, and the whole kernel community in difficult situations, that, like we guessed at the time, ended in tears.
Only the technology that can garner political support, can succeed. Because politics is what results when many people have to work together towards a common goal. It is in fact the very definition of politics.
Apparently Linus learned from this though, as git has the same license as the kernel, and hence arbitrary (political) restrictions like "you can't reverse engineer the protocol" (illegal in Europe I might add), or "you can't work on mercurial while working with Bitkeeper" (questionable in Europe) will not, and can not become an issue. And re: bitkeepers arbitrary licensing, Talk about letting your politics get in the way of technology...