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GNU is Not Unix

RMS Weighs In On BitKeeper 909

An anonymous reader writes ". . . and boy, is he pissed! The BitKeeper license, he told the Linux kernel mailing list, is 'the whip hand' of proprietary software. His brief but pungent comment is carried by Linux and Main."
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RMS Weighs In On BitKeeper

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  • by kirkb ( 158552 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:01PM (#4443405) Homepage
    if they agree to rename it to GNU/Bitkeeper, everything will be allright. :)
  • by 0101000001001010 ( 466440 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:01PM (#4443406)
    If RMS speaks, but nobody listens, does he make a sound?
    • We will never know (Score:4, Interesting)

      by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:23PM (#4443508) Homepage Journal

      We will never know the answer to this puzzler because he is the only person in the world to get slashdot headlines by posting flamebait to the wrong news groups. Anyone else would either be ignored, flamed for cross-posting, or deleted by the moderators.

    • by ender81b ( 520454 ) <billd AT inebraska DOT com> on Monday October 14, 2002 @04:38AM (#4444442) Homepage Journal
      Shamelessly stolen from the BOFH [theregister.co.uk].

      2. You're locked in a room with Richard Stallman and Bill Gates and have only a gun with two bullets in it (which you normally secrete on your person in case you ever get locked in a room with Richard Stallman, Bill Gates, etc). They both clear their throats to speak. What do you do?

      A. Shoot Bill, hoping he hasn't got a tablet device (or the XP Security Vulnerability notes) crammed up his blazer
      B. Shoot Richard, hoping he hasn't got the notes for his speech in front of his heart
      C. Shoot Richard AND Bill and take your chances
      D. Shoot yourself, twice, for getting into such a contrived situation
  • point (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Karma Sucks ( 127136 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:01PM (#4443410)
    What RMS is doing his best to ignore is that these restrictions are lifted if you (gasp!) buy a commercial license.

    I realise what point he is trying to make, but I think it is unfair of him to cloud the issue like that.
    • Re:point (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xean ( 443223 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:08PM (#4443436) Journal
      But what it comes down to really is why are they using a commercial product at all to develop one of the most sophisticated open source products.

      While (most|some) of us dont always agree with what RMS says - he almost always does have very valid points - and this is something that I personally agree with him on.

      Maybe its time for someone to start developing a OSS competitor to BitKeeper (without using BitKeeper of course!)
      • Re:point (Score:5, Interesting)

        by eyez ( 119632 ) <`eyez' `at' `babblica.net'> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:29PM (#4443533) Homepage
        Maybe its time for someone to start developing a OSS competitor to BitKeeper (without using BitKeeper of course!)

        Nobody will; Why? Nobody has really tried so far- even RMS is too stubborn to ask "Well, what is it that bitkeeper does that (cvs|subversion|arch|pcrs) doesn't do?", and then gone off and tried to implement it- in fact, this is what all of bitkeeper's advocates, including it's creator, Larry McVoy, and Linus Torvalds have been saying all this time. "Make me something better, and we'll use it.". Yet, everyone is very willing to complain, and just ignore when $KERNEL_DEVELOPER_USING_BK says "$FEATURE is something i use every day with BK, and isn't in any of the OSS source management tools."

        It's funny how much people will bitch when they're not the ones that have to deal with the inadequacies of $OSS_SM_TOOL when it comes to kernel development.

        (Actually, i believe that the subversion author (although i may be wrong about which project) has asked, but they're still a ways off in everyone else's eyes- Hell, even bitkeeper isn't there yet. Larry takes plenty of input and actually implements the missing features that Linus and company ask for, though, which is much better than any oss project.)

        I'm fairly dissappointed in RMS in this- You'd think if anyone was going to make a GNUkeeper, it'd be him.
        • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @01:44AM (#4444048)
          Nobody has really tried so far- even RMS is too stubborn to ask "Well, what is it that bitkeeper does

          There are plenty of open source systems for version control and configuration management. Furthermore, they way open source works, if you need an unusual tool for your project, you create it yourself and share it.

          It's funny how much people will bitch when they're not the ones that have to deal with the inadequacies of $OSS_SM_TOOL when it comes to kernel development.

          There are plenty of huge open source projects, and they work fine with CVS. GNU Hurd is being developed with CVS. BSD is. To me, the real question is: what is going wrong with Linux kernel development that CVS is not sufficient?

          • by eyez ( 119632 ) <`eyez' `at' `babblica.net'> on Monday October 14, 2002 @02:05AM (#4444111) Homepage
            There are plenty of huge open source projects, and they work fine with CVS. GNU Hurd is being developed with CVS. BSD is. To me, the real question is: what is going wrong with Linux kernel development that CVS is not sufficient?

            Neither have the magnitude of Developers or incoming patches that the Linux kernel has- *BSD have very small development teams. HURD's developer team is slightly larger, but still nowhere as large.

            Here's [theaimsgroup.com] an archive of the recently-set-up bk-commits-head mailing list, which shows patchsets sent through the bk 2.5 development tree alone.
          • by autrijus ( 48596 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @02:41AM (#4444219) Homepage
            If I recalled correctly, the FreeBSD development tree makes heavy use of an internal Perforce depot, which keeps in close mirror with the public CVS tree, as seen in this status repport [freebsd.org]:

            The release engineering activities for 4.6.1 are taking place on the RELENG_4_6 branch in CVS, while the work on 5.0 DP2 is taking place in Perforce so as not to disturb ongoing -CURRENT development.

            Also, the current Perl 5 development also takes place on a Perforce repository, with public-accessible rsync mirrors available.

            What is going wrong with Linux kernel development that CVS is not sufficient?

            CVS is painful to use for many common tasks required for large-sized software projects -- its shortcoming on atomic commits, directory versioning, copy-on-write branches, etc. are widely acknowledged.

            It is a good thing that, for a relatively small software sector where the neccessary designs are hardly well-understood, proprietary version control systems could use its customer's funding to experiment with advanced features. As long as nobody gets a monopoly on those ideas (read: software patents), they create a pool of ideas that related free software projects can learn from it -- it is really more like a symbiosis, not antagonism.

            It is all a very healthy process of ideas in the 'niche' market, first commissioned by paying customers, then trickle down to the low-end market (think iMovie), which makes enough people to appreciate and understand how it should work like, and finally appears as a full-fledged free software -- and everybody can just move forward and play with new things, proprietary or not.

            The remark on lkml that the new BKL is 'pulling a Qt' is probably right on the mark, though: The new Perl pumpking (Hugo) wishes to migrate Perforce to Subversion, and help building the missing pieces that people needs. No doubt that many people are doing the same thing right now, myself included.

            /Autrijus/

          • by scrytch ( 9198 ) <chuck@myrealbox.com> on Monday October 14, 2002 @09:26AM (#4445353)
            > GNU Hurd is being developed with CVS.

            It's being developed?

            > BSD is.

            They gave up on the client end and created cvsup for distribution instead (which was meant to replace sup, but turns out to beat cvs in terms of reliability). Many private branches use Perforce

            > To me, the real question is: what is going wrong with Linux kernel development that CVS is not sufficient?

            Why don't you ask Linus? He's tired of answering, but now and then, he will give you a *big* rant on what he hates about CVS. Let's start with the fact that you can't even rename a file in CVS without losing its history. Or the fact that you can't make one changeset (in CVS terms, a tag) depend on another. Or that you can't even back out individual changesets -- history in CVS is entirely linear when going backward. The reason this worked for Linux before was because Linus did it all by hand, and now he's tired of it.

            But seriously, don't take it from me, ask Linus.
      • Re:point (Score:4, Insightful)

        by starling ( 26204 ) <strayling20@gmail.com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:33PM (#4443555)
        You answered your own question. The kernel developers decided that BitKeeper was the best tool for the job so they used it, and if the FSF comes up with something better then I bet they'll switch to that in an instant.

        That's one of the real strengths of Linux - ideology takes a back seat to getting the job done, and IMO it explains why Linux has been one of the most successful Unix variants.

        • Re:point (Score:5, Interesting)

          by FooBarWidget ( 556006 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @12:44AM (#4443863)
          "You answered your own question. The kernel developers decided that BitKeeper was the best tool for the job so they used it"

          The kernel developers didn't decide, Linus decided to use BitKeeper!

          "That's one of the real strengths of Linux - ideology takes a back seat to getting the job done, and IMO it explains why Linux has been one of the most successful Unix variants."

          Untrue. Why do you think they break "kernel module source compatibility" with every patchlevel release? Obviously this has something to do with ideology, because not having to recompile kernel modules is a lot easier to the end user.
          • Re:point (Score:4, Insightful)

            by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:22AM (#4444518)
            Untrue. Why do you think they break "kernel module source compatibility" with every patchlevel release? Obviously this has something to do with ideology, because not having to recompile kernel modules is a lot easier to the end user.

            The ideology that defines Free Software people in general is that you make things easier for the developer, not the user. If the user doesn't like it, they should do their own development (that's what the source is for). If they don't want to do that, they can pay someone to do it for them (even RMS has no problems with that, so long as the source is available). If they don't want to code and they don't want to pay, they're irrelevant and should shut up and be grateful for having any software in the first place. Harsh, but that's the way it works in practice.
      • Re:point (Score:5, Insightful)

        by the_2nd_coming ( 444906 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:53PM (#4443659) Homepage
        well, if you listened to Linus. Linus has said the reason that he used it is that he uses the best product, free or not.

        he uses Linux becasue he thinks it is the best product. he uses bitkeeper becasue he thinks it is the best product.

        believe it or not people, Linus is pretty moderate and not some GPL/OSS zelot.
      • by jbn-o ( 555068 ) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Monday October 14, 2002 @01:12AM (#4443951) Homepage
        But what it comes down to really is why are they using a commercial product at all to develop one of the most sophisticated open source products.

        There's nothing wrong with using commercial software to develop other software. You probably meant to say non-free software or perhaps proprietary software, not "commercial [gnu.org]" software. As the FSF points out on their website, it can be okay to sell Free Software [gnu.org]. When one purchases Free Software that software is commercial software too.

    • Re:point (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:09PM (#4443445) Journal
      He is not ignoring that.

      There is nothing stopping bitkeeper from changing the license to restrict even people with commercial licenses in the ways they use the software.

      Here is the full quote of the part of the message cited in the /. story:
      "The spirit of the Bitkeeper license is the spirit of the whip hand. It is the spirit that says, "You have no right to use Bitkeeper, only temporary privileges that we can revoke. Be grateful that we allow you to use Bitkeeper. Be grateful, and don't do anything we dislike, or we may revoke those privileges."

      That is true whether you buy the license or you get it gratis.
      • Re:point (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:37PM (#4443574)
        There is nothing stopping bitkeeper from changing the license to restrict even people with commercial licenses in the ways they use the software.

        This is a good thing. I like it when I find myself in a situation where there's nothing stopping me. This peculiar state of being-- in which nothing stands in your way-- is called freedom.

        I'm not starting a flamewar, here, but RMS talks a lot about freedom when what he really means is abridgment of freedom. He thinks it's a bad thing that BitMover is free to license their software however they want. He would rather that BitMover not be free to change their licensing terms, that BitMover give up that freedom. This is, to me, contradictory, confusing, and, above all, ironic.
        • Re:point (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Trilaka ( 172371 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @01:43AM (#4444046)
          I just can't let this slip by again...

          So often people make the claim that RMS is being hypocritical because he is trying to take away someone else's right to license software however they wish. This is absolutely untrue.

          Never has RMS said, "You are not allowed to license this software that you have made entirely of your own hard work and energy under the terms that you feel most appropriate. Instead, you must license your software under these terms: ..."

          What RMS does say is, "Look at what you are agreeing to when using proprietary software. Here are the implications of said license. It would be in your best interests as a free individual to use software licensed under less restrictive terms. Software that guarantees to preserve your freedom to behave as a free individual."

          Whether or not you agree with what he is saying is another issue. Just make sure you understand what he is saying first. He is not trying to take away anyone's right to choose how to license their software. He is trying to encourage users to be aware of the freedoms they give up by using proprietary software, and encouraging them to choose free software instead.
        • Re:point (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ian Bicking ( 980 ) <<moc.ydutsroloc> <ta> <bnai>> on Monday October 14, 2002 @01:48AM (#4444060) Homepage
          I'm not starting a flamewar, here, but RMS talks a lot about freedom when what he really means is abridgment of freedom. He thinks it's a bad thing that BitMover is free to license their software however they want. He would rather that BitMover not be free to change their licensing terms, that BitMover give up that freedom. This is, to me, contradictory, confusing, and, above all, ironic.
          This interpretation of freedom has no intellectual merit -- it is merely playing with words. The freedom RMS talks about has always been freedom in a social context, not freedom of the individual carried to absurdity.

          In any social context freedoms must be balanced. This should be obvious. For instance, individuals are not free to kill each other. This clearly decreases the freedom of the individuals, but increases the practical freedom of the population when considered together. The freedom to bind and coerce others does not increase the freedom of the society, only the freedom of select individuals.

          Moreover, RMS's critique is not really that BitMover is free to change their license, but rather that people should not subject themselves to BitMover's coercion. He is not criticizing BitMover for showing its true colors -- rather, he is trying to get Linux developers to realize they have placed themselves in a coercive situation to their own detriment. He isn't protecting BitMover's freedom -- he is protecting the developers' freedom.

      • Re:point (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Sivar ( 316343 ) <charlesnburns[&]gmail,com> on Monday October 14, 2002 @12:03AM (#4443700)
        Yes, but it is also possible that the Bitkeeper employees will all buy AK-47's and kill all of their customers. It is highly unlikely, and would be a terrible idea. Imagine the headlines:
        "Bitkeeper license changes halt all Linux development!"
        Bitkeeper is a company, out to make money, and it is very cool of them to make Bitkeeper available for free. Because they are out to make money, and they are not a monopoly, they aren't about to shaft one of their highest profile users with creative licensing BS because it would not only be very unlike a commercial company that develops open-source tools [bitkeeper.com], but would completely screw their reputation among those that do actually fund the development of this software--the PAYING customers.
        If anyone is interested in Bitkeeper's point of view onhow their product compares to the competition, you need only look on the left palen of their website where they compare with various alternatives.
        If you want their position on the whole Linux on Bitkeeper debate, the article quotes: Larry McVoy of BitKeeper:
        "Our position:
        1) No free licenses for our competition, they can buy them if they like.
        2) The software is not open source because the open source business model doesn't have a prayer of supporting the development costs.
        3) If you had built a decent system instead of sitting around and whining, we could be doing something else instead of sitting around listening to your whining."
        Do you think they should allow those that use Bitkeeper for free use it to develop competition to Bitkeeper? Does that not seem absurd? Is it really that different from some of the GPL restrictions?

        Sheesh, it isn't as if Linux doesn't understand software licenses and his rights. If people would please read the Free Use License [bitkeeper.com] they would hopefully see that it isn't really that bad. Sure, it's politically odd that Linus would use a closed source (albeit free as in beer) tool to keep track of the source tree, but if it's the best solution (and I think he would know), why voluntarily restrict yourself for silly political reasons?
        Isn't the hacker community all about avoiding political BS and judging by technical merit rather than popularity and politics?
        • Re:point (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Ian Bicking ( 980 ) <<moc.ydutsroloc> <ta> <bnai>> on Monday October 14, 2002 @01:28AM (#4443993) Homepage
          Do you think they should allow those that use Bitkeeper for free use it to develop competition to Bitkeeper? Does that not seem absurd? Is it really that different from some of the GPL restrictions?
          Yes, that is completely unlike the GPL restrictions. The GPL places no restriction on the use of GPL software. For example, GCC is frequently used to produce proprietary applications.
          but if it's the best solution (and I think he would know), why voluntarily restrict yourself for silly political reasons?
          Because you are committed to the concept of free software and the development of a free software system. Linus does not have this commitment. RMS does. You think freedom is silly. Not everyone agrees.
  • I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZeroLogic ( 11697 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:02PM (#4443413)
    Maybe I don't understand the issue, BitKeeper is a private company, they make a product that they don't want their competitors to use for free. What's the harm in that? Ford doesn't donate cars to Chevy neither does McDonalds give Burger King free food, why is this different?
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Informative)

      by stefanlasiewski ( 63134 ) <slashdot@nosPam.stefanco.com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:10PM (#4443450) Homepage Journal
      This is different because occasionally, a Chevy worker will drive a Ford to work; and a McDonalds worker will eat Burger King food. Neither activity is restricted by their job.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Scott Wood ( 1415 ) <scott.buserror@net> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:28PM (#4443530)
      While I certainly don't speak for RMS's looniness, this is a rather unfortunate clause given Larry's stated goal of helping kernel development. Not only do most Linux vendors ship "competing" products such as CVS (which Larry handwaved away by calling it distribution rather than selling, even when someone pays Red Hat for a CD that contains CVS, and thus contains functionality that competes (even if pathetically so) with BitKeeper). Furthermore, given the volunteer nature of much of Linux's development, there are many people that would have to go beg Larry for a special waiver to make use of BitKeeper in kernel development simply because of something their employer works on or sells.

      It's not that BitKeeper shouldn't have the right to choose to whom they give away their product for free; it's just that many feel that it's not appropriate for something intended to be used to maintain an Open Source project such as the Linux kernel.

  • by Anonymous Cowrad ( 571322 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:04PM (#4443420)
    "What would be even better is if it convinced free software people to develop a tool as good as, or better than, Bitkeeper," -- Rik van Riel.


    Well spoken, Rik. Until RMS can propose an alternative to BitKeeper, he's just pissing in the wind.

    Of course, he has every right to piss in the wind as much as he likes.
  • by CoughDropAddict ( 40792 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:06PM (#4443427) Homepage
    It seems reasonable enough that Larry would want to prohibit people from using bitkeeper to compete against bitkeeper.

    However I think it is telling that the license goes a step further and disallows any person or entity who ever works on a competitor from ever using bitkeeper. So Larry is essentially helping to see that many people (Linux kernel hackers using bitkeeper) are unable to ever compete with him, even if the kernel hacking and open-source-SCM hacking are in no way related. Way to drive a wedge through the free software community.
    • by hotgazpacho ( 573639 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:37PM (#4443578) Homepage Journal
      Actually, if you read the article, it says that the FREE version of BitKeeper cannot be used to work on its competition. i.e. You cannot use the FREE version of BitKeeper to develop CVS. HOWEVER, one can BUY a license from BitKeeper to do just that.
      • by CoughDropAddict ( 40792 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:49PM (#4443639) Homepage
        I am quite aware of this distinction, however you are missing my point. The license says more than "you cannot use the free version to develop the competition." It also says "if you, the person, do any kind of unrelated development on a competitor (perhaps even submitting a bug report!) you no may no longer use the free version of bitkeeper. Which means that any kernel developer who has become accustomed to using BitKeeper will retstrain himself from aiding competing free software projects at all.

        This divides the world of open-source developers into two mutually exclusive groups: those who use bitkeeper for kernel development and those who can ever work on free alternatives.
  • Simple Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:08PM (#4443438) Journal
    Code something GPL that performs equal to or better than BitKeeper.

    I'm not familiar with the arguments of CVS vs BitKeeper. If it is a philosophical argument about a way to do things, then fine. Someone take the CVS code, fork it, and modify it to do what BitKeeper does.

    It is a question of the "Software as Religion" vs "Software as Tool".

    I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that Linus and the other kernel hackers were pretty proficient with CVS and knew what they were doing. If they are more productive with BK, then there is something wrong with CVS.

    Productivity is what counts. This isn't an addiction -- if people want to they can switch back to CVS at any time.
    • Re:Simple Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:55AM (#4444604)
      Code something GPL that performs equal to or better than BitKeeper.

      Well that is the structural problem of Open Source, and it goes all the way back to when RMS worked at MIT, and spent years reverse engineering Symbolics products and giving the code away to their competition. It's always been about seeing a commercial product - whether it's BitKeeper, Photoshop, CDE or even Unix itself - and producing a free clone. All the innovation and risk-taking happens in the commercial world, yet the Open Source movement damages the commercial world by making it more and more difficult for them to afford to create new products. It's not a sustainable situation.
      • Re:Simple Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JordanH ( 75307 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @07:11AM (#4444779) Homepage Journal
        • Well that is the structural problem of Open Source, and it goes all the way back to when RMS worked at MIT, and spent years reverse engineering Symbolics products and giving the code away to their competition.

        Well, RMS' view was that both Symbolics and LMI were benefitting heavily from his own (and others) work at the MIT Lab. He felt it only fair that the MIT Lab should have access to their changes. To facilitate this, he had to make sure that both companies had access to any changes made so as to make any further changes they made applicable to the current source base.

        • All the innovation and risk-taking happens in the commercial world, yet the Open Source movement damages the commercial world by making it more and more difficult for them to afford to create new products. It's not a sustainable situation.

        Funny how your first sentence provides a counter example to your thesis. All the innovation that went into to the LMI and Symbolics development initially was done in the public-domain free-software world of the MIT AI Lab. Then, the commercial entities sprang up to take advantage of this when it was shown to have value.

        It also ignores the history that the FSF's first product was Emacs, which was initially developed in the free-software world. Another example of where the innovation was done in the Free Software world and commercial entities sprung up to take advantage of that development, btw. Gosling Emacs was a commercial clone of the Emacs that was developed at MIT.

        Anyway... BitKeeper, Photoshop, CDE and Unix are innovative? Seems to me that each borrowed very heavily from other products before them, yet you don't complain about how they reengineered known solutions making it more difficult for those who went before them. In the case of BitKeeper, the most widely known predeccesors were, in fact, free software solutions.

        What you are describing is competition. Whether from free software or from commercial software, that's all it is. Funny, I thought competition was good for markets. It clears out bad products in favor of others that have more favorable attributes, be it features or price.

        If it's not sustainable, as you claim, what is the solution? Extend copyrights even further, more software patents? What? Seems like the commercial world, with it's software patents, DMCA, copyright extensions, batteries of lawyers and marketroids have all the competitive advantages already. If they can't win with the legal system on their side, then perhaps there is something seriously wrong with their model.

      • Re:Simple Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

        by back_pages ( 600753 ) <back_pages@cox . n et> on Monday October 14, 2002 @07:50AM (#4444905) Journal
        Oh, but I bet it is a sustainable situation. Has anyone considered that the conflict between closed-source proprietary software and open source freely distributable software as a checks and balances? They complement each other, and I doubt either would be where they are today without the other.

        Consider that the open source software often chases the coattails of proprietary software, and it is like an erosive force against a software monopoly. Rather than let a given company build an invincible fortress of refined, polished, peerless software, they are constantly forced to accept that their current innovations will eventually become basically public domain through free software. This is an incredible incentive to keep in touch with their market, make real and substantial improvements to their product, and avoid heavy handed dictator style behavior.

        If closed-source proprietary software blazes the trail, open source paves the highway. Making a practical public domain out of so much software ensures that innovation in proprietary software is a process, not an end point. It's competition, it's checks and balances, and it benefits everyone who uses the software.

        Open source does hardly any damage to commercial products. It does ensure that the #1 commercial product has a competitor close on its heels that cannot be driven away not by competitive pricing but by smart business and new inventions. I wouldn't argue against having competition around here, I get the feeling that Microsoft isn't loved. At any rate, this is a very sustainable situation and the checks and balances benefit the users substantially.

  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:09PM (#4443443)
    RMS has an opinion, and has expressed it... I don't see where all the ad hominim vitriol is coming from.

    Like him or not, RMS is one of the Free Software movement's Great Thinkers (TM).

    Sheesh... let him expound upon his point, and if you don't like it, ignore it.

    • Re:So? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by asv108 ( 141455 ) <alex.phataudio@org> on Monday October 14, 2002 @12:14AM (#4443743) Homepage Journal
      RMS has an opinion, and has expressed it... I don't see where all the ad hominim vitriol is coming from.

      RMS is certainly entitled to his opinion; I don't think that is the issue here. The issue here is his choice of forum. The Linux Kernel Dev list is for technical discussion related to the Linux kernel. If RMS has issues with the bitkeeper license he should post his opinions somewhere else, like the GNU website or Usenet. It doesn't matter who you are or what you've accomplised, offtopic is offtopic.

      • Re:So? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by civilizedINTENSITY ( 45686 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @05:28AM (#4444536)
        "The issue here is his choice of forum."

        Yet, thats where Larry posts liscense issues. Thats where the discussion was taking place. Who are you to tell them where they can discuss kernel issues?
        From: David S. Miller

        Subject: Re: New BK License Problem?
        Date: Fri, 04 Oct 2002 17:04:51 -0700 (PDT)
        From: Roman Zippel
        Date: Sat, 5 Oct 2002 00:36:16 +0200 (CEST)
        On Fri, 4 Oct 2002, Dr. David Alan Gilbert wrote:
        > Just to be clear;
        ... this is completely offtopic, can this _please_ be moved to a bk list?
        Thanks.
        It is very ontopic because it affects a number of kernel developers.
        Whether you like BK or not, it is the primary source management tool used by Linus and others, it is even documented in the source tree as such.
        Therefore, such a license change could change that, so it's a relavant topic.
        And finally, as the person who has to maintain this list and deal with the daily bounce pool this list generates every day, I declare it as ontopic so :-P~~~~~~
  • by DuctTape ( 101304 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:10PM (#4443451)
    That couldn't have been RMS in that quote. He didn't say GNU/Linux.
  • by dh003i ( 203189 ) <dh003i@CURIEgmail.com minus physicist> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:13PM (#4443467) Homepage Journal
    As usual, RMS gets little or no respect around here, despite the fact that, as usual, he's right.

    Those of you saying that the restrictions RMS mentions would be lifted if you bought the commercial version are missing the point. The point by RMS is that all of the licenses under which you can use BitKeeper are draconian, as they're EULA's. The problem with EULA's is that they can be changed at any time by the developer, thus creating an unfair situation; BitKeeper could just as easily include such restrictions on its paid-for version. The other problem is that accepting them is mandatory, thus creating another power imbalance.

    That said, this is all the more reason for developers to switch from BitKeeper to alternatives. BitKeeper can impose any draconian restrictions on you they wish, and you'd best not wait until you're trapped into using BitKeeper and dependant on it to change.

    I'd advise the rest of /. to listen more to RMS when he speaks and suppress your obvious desire to bash a man because he has a certain set of ideals.
    • by eyez ( 119632 ) <`eyez' `at' `babblica.net'> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:36PM (#4443568) Homepage
      That said, this is all the more reason for developers to switch from BitKeeper to alternatives. BitKeeper can impose any draconian restrictions on you they wish, and you'd best not wait until you're trapped into using BitKeeper and dependant on it to change.

      Trapped? Not so. If they stop using bk, everything bk ever did still works in patches, and they'd just be in the same boat they were BEFORE using bk-- diff and patch. In fact, right now, if RMS wanted to send Linus a regular patch, he could, without ever using bk. There's also currently a rsync'able bk mirror out there, and bitkeeper retains SCCS compatibility. Anyone can use that and get the latest bk tree, write a patch, and send it on to Linus.

      But ask yourself this- If any SCM software out there worked anywhere near as well as bk, why are there so many out there with personal bk trees, and using bk, and none using anything else, exporting their stuff to diff format, and sending the patches that way?

      Because none of the OSS SCM tools can do that for them. So all the complainers out there should get to hard work fixing up an OSS SCM to the linux developers' needs, and spend less time bitching.
  • Dear Mr. Stallman (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ndogg ( 158021 ) <the DOT rhorn AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:14PM (#4443469) Homepage Journal
    Firstly, this isn't your project. Mr. Torvalds has made his points and position quite clear, and it's time that you and the rest of the Free Software people leave the kernel hackers well enough alone.

    Also, do you have no respect what's so ever? What are you doing posting on the LKML, which is not meant to be political.

    Also, it would be nice if you would get your facts straight. Bitkeeper (the gratis version, anyway) only restricts you from using it to develop a competing project, not from using one.
  • by pyman ( 610707 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:16PM (#4443473) Homepage
    Forget BK and CVS... Everybody knows, the last word in source control is SourceSafe. :-)
  • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:16PM (#4443477) Homepage
    I preface this by saying that I'm a big fan and proponent of open source but anyhow...

    If free software really is better then why do people like RMS need to come out ranting about giving into the evils of proprietary software. Either it's a better model of development or it isn't, and if you have to brow beat people into using it, maybe it's not a better way of doing things. It always seems to me that the people most afraid that their beliefs are wrong are the ones screaming the loudest that they are right.

    As long as we have the freedom to write free software and use free software, then I don't really see the point of such ranting. Let the software itself speak quietly of the benefits of being free rather than screaming about the evils of proprietary software.

    I'm sure that Linus would be happy to use a more free product if he felt it was suited to the task. Linus, unlike RMS, has never, to my knowledge, been much of a politician. He wrote open source software because it made sense to do so. He's made his choices for the same reason anybody should, because they made good sound technical sense. (if I'm wrong here, please don't hesitate to point it out :)

    Either it will survive and thrive because it has benefits or it will shrivel up and die. Evolution marches merrily on. I mean the process, not the mail client. Though I LOVE the mail client :).
    • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <glandauer@charter.net> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:29PM (#4443532) Homepage

      You misunderstand RMS's point about Free vs. proprietary software. He isn't the one who claims that Free Software is better because it has a superior development model, or at least that's not his primary point. His point is that Free Software is better because it gives freedom to its users: freedom to use it as they choose, to understand how it works, and to modify it to fit their needs. The points that he's making about BitKeeper are exactly in line with the points that he's always made about why proprietary software is so bad- it doesn't respect the needs of its users.

      • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @06:04AM (#4444628)
        His point is that Free Software is better because it gives freedom to its users: freedom to use it as they choose, to understand how it works, and to modify it to fit their needs.

        Question: is the average Word user made more or less free by having the source code to Word?

        proprietary software is so bad- it doesn't respect the needs of its users

        On the contrary, proprietary software must respect the needs of its users, otherwise they won't buy it. There are no such incentives for free software, which doesn't have to respect the needs of anyone but its author.
  • by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:19PM (#4443493) Journal
    According to RMS: If you even run bitkeeper, you can't contribute to CVS or other competetors.

    That seems to be quite a restriction. Imagine a Microsoft EULA that says: if you run Windows, you can't contribute to Linux.

    RMS has a point. Licenses like these are there to kill free software alternatives.

    Goddamn, but what has happened to slashdot? Judging by the posts from the majority of the slashdot crowd, I think that they'd be happier if slashdot started reporting every new Microsoft Update patch instead of new Kernal releases.
    • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Monday October 14, 2002 @12:21AM (#4443769)
      You have it a bit backwards. The more accurate way of saying it is this: if you contribute to CVS or other competitors, you aren't eligible for the free license for BitKeeper. You can either buy BitKeeper, or not use it at all.

      Here's the relevant part of the license:
      (c) Notwithstanding any other terms in this License, this License is not

      available to You if You and/or your employer develop, produce, sell,
      and/or resell a product which contains substantially similar capabili-
      ties of the BitKeeper Software, or, in the reasonable opinion of Bit-
      Mover, competes with the BitKeeper Software.
    • by RedWizzard ( 192002 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @12:34AM (#4443819)
      According to RMS: If you even run bitkeeper, you can't contribute to CVS or other competetors.

      That seems to be quite a restriction. Imagine a Microsoft EULA that says: if you run Windows, you can't contribute to Linux.

      You've missed the point. You should have said "imagine a Microsoft EULA that says: if you don't contribute to Linux you can use Windows for free". Not such an issue anymore, is it?
      • by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @03:00AM (#4444258) Homepage
        Imagine Bill Gates realising that his real cash cow is Microsoft Office, and that MS Windows is just the technology that keep MS Office ahead of the competitors, by having early access to new or secret API's. In that case, it might make perfect sense to license MS Windows gratis in order to keep off any competitors. And of course, not license it gratis to people who worked for companies who contributed to software that compete with Microsoft offereings.

        Suddenly, any company that used Linux/Samba/Apache on their servers, and occationally contributed a bug fix to either of these, would have to pay for all their MS Windows desktop licenses, which could be arbitrary high as most customers would not be affected.

        In other words, MS could make it arbitrarily expensive for companies to participate in the development of free software that competed with Micosoft products.

        The BitKeeper trap would be an excellent way for Bill Gates to kill of the competion from free software. We just have to hope he doesn't realise this, or that he have a higher sense of business ethics than Larry McVoy.
  • Answer me this. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yeOldeSkeptic ( 547343 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:20PM (#4443497)


    Stallman is correct. Bitkeeper is a proprietary product
    produced by a commercial company and that commercial
    company has the legal means (whether right or not)
    to suddenly change their license terms.


    I quite understand Linus' and Rik's aversion to
    puritanical arguments against their use of proprietary
    products when such proprietary products keep
    them productive.


    McVoy is a good guy as far as the
    Linux kernel hackers are concerned, but what will
    happen if a certain Mr. Bill Gates offers
    loads of cash to Mr. McVoy for his company?


    Steve: Hey Bill, do I have a deal for you.

    Bill: Yeah?

    Steve: What do you say to spending just a little over
    50 million dollars to derail Linux development
    on its tracks?

  • by molog ( 110171 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:25PM (#4443518) Homepage Journal
    This is RMS. We have known all along how much he hates proprietary software. He has always been consistent with that. Of course he's going to be mad, this is Linux, the so called flag ship of Free software, using a proprietary product in its development.


    It just comes down to this. The current kernel developers don't have the same views that he has and they are angry that he expressed his views on their mailing list.


    We might get annoyed at the likes of RMS but we need people like him around. And as far as those people who would want to criticize RMS for not putting out code to have a better source control then CVS, remember that the man has written quite a lot of software in his time.


    Molog

  • by derch ( 184205 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:25PM (#4443519)
    Normally I don't mind RMS spouting off about something when he has a decent leg to stand on or is using his own forum. In this case, he really doesn't.

    First, he didn't seem to choose the right forum to speak in. A listserv for kernel development is not the correct space to bring political speach into. RMS's post was very possibly off topic to the list.

    Second Linux is not his project, and he is not managing it. Torvalds has expressed his opinions on the Free Software movement. He doesn't believe in Free Software as an all important political idea, thus he has not don anything wrong by using Bitkeeper. Torvalds chose Bitkeeper, and that's what the project uses. Period.

    RMS should attempt to open a serious technical discussion directly with Torvalds. RMS should say "What do you need?" and then deliver it. Or RMS should violate the license in a clearly absurd manner and let Bitkeeper take him to court to test the validity of the license.
    • by eloki ( 29152 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @12:11AM (#4443731)
      Second Linux is not his project, and he is not managing it. Torvalds has expressed his opinions on the Free Software movement. He doesn't believe in Free Software as an all important political idea, thus he has not don anything wrong by using Bitkeeper. Torvalds chose Bitkeeper, and that's what the project uses. Period.

      But how is this relevant? For example, Windows isn't our product, and neither was Blender, nor Qt, nor many other things. Yet people seem to be quite happy to have opinions on the development and licensing of those pieces of software. Why can't RMS have an opinion on the development software used by the kernel? I can disagree with Linus any time I like if I think he's wrong, and RMS damn well can too.

      All these people saying 'write something better' are also somewhat missing the point if you ask me. Of course that would be a solution to the problem, but it just means that those people aren't as strong about the free(dom) software ideal as RMS is. They would prefer to use a free tool, but are willing to use BitKeeper - RMS would never do that, and that's the key difference.

      People saying 'write me something better' are basically taking the lazy way out; 'if you write me something better, then I can feel better about my decision as being the best on both a technical and ethical level'. Yet what good are ethics and morals if you always want somebody else to make them easy for you? The whole point of morals is about making the right choices, not the easiest or most convenient ones.
  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:32PM (#4443551)
    The problem is that all to often people come off with the attitude that free software is all the same as licensed software, it's just a matter of your choice. Many people don't seem to understand that many people who advocate free software consider this like a slap in the face.

    You might want to recall 150 yrs ago when some were saying "if you don't like slavery - don't own slaves, otherwise mind your own business. it's all up to whoever chooses" , there problem was that there was no equivalency relationship back then and there is none now.

    Copyrights are abusing peoples right to copy, and free software is a response to that. Mixing, matching, and choosing is not the answer, because people are using copyrights to controll me even if I don't wish to exercise them myself. It is very harmfull to try and promote some type of equivalency relationship, and IMHO this is a great example of why.
    • by PhxBlue ( 562201 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @12:00AM (#4443686) Homepage Journal

      I understand why it's a slap in the face, too; but comparing software licensing to slavery is a bit overboard. Software is not sentient by any stretch of the imagination. Further, no one is restricting your rights toward software development - only your rights toward the use of their system.

      A far better analogy is to compare a software licensing agreement to a lease--some landlords are perfectly respectable, while others are more than a little shifty. In any event, as long as you live on their property, you abide by the terms of the lease.

      Unfortunately, software manufacturers don't require notice before changing the terms of their licensing agreements. I think they should - and I think that people who purchased software licenses have a right not to have the license changed on them arbitrarily. That sort of fly-by-night treatment is my principal objection to BitKeeper's practices: it's unethical. And unethical behavior is not limited in practice to companies which distribute proprietary software.

      Their treatment of their own customers deserves a response - and the best response is to cease doing business with them. That couldn't work with slavery, which was far too widespread. . . but when you're dealing with a single corporation, a little bit of financial pressure goes a long way.

  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @11:55PM (#4443662)
    I support RMS in many ways, he's the driving force which got us most of the free software we use today, indirectly or directly. But he fails to understand that freedom doesn't come all at once.

    Think of trying to implement democracy in Iraq after Saddam's fall, or even better, in some far more impoverished nation with much less technology. You can't just put up voting booths and say you have a democracy. Democracy requires an informed citizenry, it requires literacy, it requires a stable social climate, it requires reasonable expectations of the citizens that their vote might matter, and it requires them to have their immediate concerns taken care of, like stable income and work, safe from government persecution, safe from crime.

    Same with free software. I think BitKeeper's license sucks in many ways, but perfection is the enemy of good enough, and right now, BitKeeper's license is good enough for the kernel folks, so RMS should just butt out, work on an alternative if he wants, but butt out of something that is none of his business.
  • by LoRider ( 16327 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @12:04AM (#4443707) Homepage Journal
    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I just think ripping on Stallman is now the thing to do to be cool.

    Stallman is right in my opinion and has every right to voice his opinion. I can't believe how much hatred there is for someone that has done more for free software than anyone else, especially slashdotters.

    It seems that so many people think Stallman is some boring old man who should be ignored and ridiculed every time he makes a statement regarding something he believes strongly in. How many people who even posted in this thread even know the first thing about Stallman, kernel programming, BitKeeper and its alternatives? How many have even contributed to the Open Source community?

    Like I said, everyone is entitled to their opinion, Stallman his and this is mine. Most of you wannabes don't know what you are talking about and are probably reading this with IE.

    There goes my karma...
    • by TheFrood ( 163934 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @01:48AM (#4444057) Homepage Journal
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I just think ripping on Stallman is now the thing to do to be cool.

      Stallman is right in my opinion and has every right to voice his opinion. I can't believe how much hatred there is for someone that has done more for free software than anyone else, especially slashdotters.


      I agree with the above. However, I think posting his argument to the LKML, a mailing list that's not intended for political discussion, was a mistake. All that's going to do is annoy people who are trying to use the LKML to develop the Linux kernel.

      TheFrood
  • by shoemakc ( 448730 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @12:40AM (#4443846) Homepage
    It's amazing that the same people who put themselves in a bad position with their pictures and music would again willingly do so with their kernels.

    Bitkeeper could easily change their license with after an acceptable amount of market share, just as GIF, JPEG and MP3 did before them. RMS, as usual, is dead on target here.

    -Chris
  • by shoemakc ( 448730 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @12:47AM (#4443870) Homepage
    ...Redhat announced today that starting with Redhat 8.1, all further releases would be compiled entirely in Visual C++.

    Safedisc licensing agreements are also pending.

    -Chris
  • by Ektanoor ( 9949 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @01:26AM (#4443988) Journal
    Well I don't like RMS due to many reasons, mainly that he follows his ideas like a religious fanatic altogether with some very faint ideals on how the world should be. It reminds me those hippy, extreme left revolutionaries that raised Che to the level of a saint, considered Mao's sentences the Bible and USSR a traitor to communist ideals... Meanwhile there are many things on RMS that deserve some high respect. Here is one of them, because, RMS is absolutely right...

    I may understand the reasons kernel developers point to hold up to BitKeeper. However they can't and shouldn't ignore the consequences of ignoring the legalities of their move. The fact that BitKeeper is factually an EULA much worse than M$ is something that may put into question the future of Linux. Yes, it is much worse because ethically violates some principals of market, things that were formed not yesterday but millenia ago. It is much worse because it is clearly not a commercial license but a typical feudal decree of the worst kind, in common terms: "you can't do that or do this while you are under my service". This is what is inside this license and it is so superficial that any deviation may turn it void. For some you may have had the chance to read documents from the V up to IX centuries, one may note that feudalism started this way. First they said "while", then they said "because" and later they didn't say nothing as everyone considered it natural...

    And to consider things worse:
    Larry McVoy of BitKeeper:

    "Our position:
    "1) No free licenses for our competition, they can buy them if they like.
    "2) The software is not open source because the open source business model doesn't have a prayer of supporting the development costs.
    "3) If you had built a decent system instead of sitting around and whining, we could be doing something else instead of sitting around listening to your whining."

    If we look at the reaction of BitKeeper's owner, we can see that we are really going the worst way. He is ultimative, he is arrogant, for him OSS lacks prayers. But this is not the worst. The worst is that we are a mass of apatic whinners, but he stands higher and listens to the crowd of gentiles. And he only can listen whinning, nothing else, because the brilliance and crystal sound of BitKeeper's castle blinds and deafens everything else.

    This is not OSS, this is not Free Software. This is not even the M$ Empire. This is the Black Cathedral.
    • Yeah right (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Aapje ( 237149 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @08:43AM (#4445096) Journal
      What a load o' crap. Larry McVoy basically says three things:

      1. We very much like to give both the poor and the rich the option of using our software (without illegally using it), the only thing we disagree with is that our competitors use it for free. While it may be short-sighted, in no way is this worse than Perforce or any of the other commercial versioning tools which cannot be used by anyone for free.

      2. We don't believe that an open source product can financially be succesful in this market segment (that is what he actually said, not that all OSS is hopeless). You call this arrogant, but where o where is this money making open source versioning tool to disprove Larry? Besides, there is no reason to call someone arrogant for a honest opinion (unless you are part of the thought police).

      3. You have every right to create your own ultracool open source product, but don't claim that you have any right to use our work for free unless you follow our rules. If you want a versioning tool that doesn't have these restrictions, build your own instead of whining.

      I certainly don't think that Larry is against OSS or its proponents. What he is against, is people who blame him when he is ten times nicer to users than most other developers. Because no matter how you twist the argument, a commercial license is all your gonna get with almost every other commercial product. BitMover gives you another option, one which you may accept or not, but it can never take anything away from the basic proposition that you get with most commercial products: pay to use it. Besides, the commercial license they use is not a shinkwrap EULA, but a legitimate contract that you must sign. So all in all, BitMover doesn't seem to be any more evil than other commercial developers (probably much less actually). I agree that Larry could have used a bit more tact, but the same can be said for RMS. That's why they should both stick to coding IMHO ;)
  • Pulling a Qt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kris ( 824 ) <kris-slashdot@koehntopp.de> on Monday October 14, 2002 @01:39AM (#4444027) Homepage
    Normally I do not agree with RMS at all. In this particular case, though, he is flat out right.

    BK is infrastructure for the kernel development. This is not something that you happen to rip out and replace on a moments notice in case the license changes to something unacceptable. changing infrastructure is a painful process in which more often than not valueable metadata is lost and in which you have to change processes and retrain people.

    In fact, this is precisely the reason while Linus is still using BK despite the controversial license: Convenience vs. da pain of changing.

    Now, consider the license change BK put through, and what it mandates: It basically says that you cannot use the free license for Bitkeeper to use Bitkeeper for anything including Kernel development if you or your company happen to work on a version control system.

    Can Bitkeeper legitimately impose such license restrictions? Yes, they can - it is their product and they can do whatever they fucking want with it.

    Is such a license acceptable for Linux kernel development? Not at all. Despite the fact that there are Bitkeeper-to-CVS and Bitkeeper-to-Subversion and Bitkeeper-to-tgz-Gateways all over the place now, Non-BK users are second class citizens in Linux kernel development. They do not have realtime access, and they do not have proper access to BK metadata at all. Also, patch submissions that do not come in via BK are treated worse than patches that come in via BK - Linus and friends may say they aren't, or they aren't intentionally, but they are - again matters of convenience and infrastructure working against Non-BK users.

    Switching from BK to a different systems becomes harder the longer you use them, because the systems accumulates metadata and processes center around BK - the infrastructure mechanics I explained above at work.

    Finally, is this situation sane at all? That is, is there at least one party that wins because of this license change?

    Well, the people who cannot use the free BK license are certainly not winning. They are shut out and have to use second-class systems to contribute to the kernel. Their enthusiasm and energy that could be used for Linux kernel development is diverted to integrating into a principally broken infrastructure.

    The Linux kernel development process certainly is not winning at all. There is war and blodshed on the list, and people are switching or turning their back on kernel development out of principle, others defend Bitkeeper out of purely technical reasons, shutting out all the process problems and political outrage BK creates.

    Bitkeeper, the company, certainly isn't winning, too. They created this license in order to discourage the development of BK alternatives. Well, that backfired big time. I couldn't have devised a better Subversion promotion campaign than this particular license change.

    Basically, BK has pulled a Qt. That is, they created a great product that is important infrastructure for other projects, with a license that is unacceptable for many people. This is just what Qt was in the beginning of the KDE project: a truly great product in an pivotal infrastructure role for an important project (the Linux Desktop). And just like the license to Qt forced many people to create an alternative to Qt, spawning the Gnome desktop, the BK license change will be a great incentive for many to work on Subversion, Arc and related projects.

    So BK actually achived the opposite of what they intended with the license change.

    Is there any other party that might be winning? Well, yes. Microsoft. But you already knew that. And hey, they even have a version control system.
  • by Paul Komarek ( 794 ) <komarek.paul@gmail.com> on Monday October 14, 2002 @01:39AM (#4444029) Homepage
    RMS doesn't give a damn about convenience, especially for his own sake. He cares about ideals, and challenges everyone else to do the same. Most of his life has been spent trying to make living with his ideals more convenient. Most of us losers spend our lives rationlizing about our ideals until our ideals are convenient. I hope this explains where RMS is coming from and why he says the stuff he does.

    Linus Torvalds is more like the majority of people whose ideals meld (by design or otherwise, I don't want to guess) with convenience. This is probably part of why he is fairly popular and seen as a regular guy (unlike RMS). For instance, Torvalds feels the "best" tool for the job should be used regardless. Unfortunately, Torvalds has never taken the time to describe for us exactly what "best" means. I'm sure he doesn't mean anything so sinister as "if unpaid child labor makes the tool cheaper, then it's better!", or so naive as "I'll pay anything for the best, screw value/dollar!".

    RMS doesn't give a damn about Larry McVoy's company succeeding with propietary software. I believe (I don't want to put words in RMS' mouth) this is because RMS feel propietary software is worthless in the long run, and hence a waste of society's time, energy, and money. I believe he could win this argument, should he choose to make it. Torvald's feelings on the subject are useless until he defines what he means by "best".

    My second personal interjection for this post is about competition versus scratching itches. It's not clear to me that the "competition" from BitKeeper is what will spur the creation of a Free package with similar features -- Torvalds doesn't seem motiviated by competition with Microsoft (he's said such several times), so it's not obvious to me that software authors will be motivated to compete with BitKeeper for the sake of competition alone.

    The people in the Free and Open Source communities most affected by the lack of Free BitKeeper alternatives are the Linux (i.e. kernel) developers. Most others seem to be happy enough with existing tools, with just enough disgruntelment that subversion is finally emerging. Thus BitKeeper is providing non-Free itch-relief for the only people in the communities who are have this particular itch. Rik and Linus are dreaming if they think I care about their itches more than I care about mine. Essentially, the only people who are likely to produce BitKeeper alternatives are those kernel developers who refuse to use BitKeeper because of their ideals (if they don't use BitKeeper because they don't like source control, or because they're lazy, then they're unlikely to write a replacement).

    That is, only people with strong ideals about Free software are likely to write a replacment for BitKeeper. That means people more like RMS and less like Linus.

    -Paul Komarek
  • by Diabolical ( 2110 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @03:03AM (#4444261) Homepage
    Let's see.. a few years back Linus just used CVS. Developers began complaining about shortcomings since Linux became too big to be handled in plain CVS etc.

    Since CVS is a different beast then the Linux Kernel they did not try to develop something themselves. Besides, that would only distract them from kernel development. To make things worse the competitor, subversions, wasn't much usefull eather since it was still in development (and still is).

    So Linux chose BitKeeper. Not because he was pushed or otherwise but because it was, and still is, the best alternative offered then and now. Not because out of convenience but to keep the development going in a strong pace lest it become, like the HURD, a product which seems to be never finished.

    BitMover provided the software for free to kernel developers. The only real restriction is that you ae not allowed to use BitKeeper to create a competitive product. Why? Because that's the way BitMover earns it's money to pay it's employees and to fund development for BitKeeper.

    So, to be able to use a good product (BitKeeper) which in it's turn made it possible to create a good product (linuxkernel) Linus agreed on the terms that were layed out. If they should have to go back to CVS (which is technologically still possible although people claim otherwise) they would also have to go back to all the problems there were before they started using BitKeeper.

    And may eventually a better product come by which is OSS then i would have no doubt everyone would switch to using that.

    I can understand RMS's opinion. He sees the flagship of the FSF being "corrupted" by closed source software. This is of course a big blow to him. The FSF always tried to create the tools to do the job themselves. Apparently their jobs were not as big as the Linux kernel though. So their tools became inadequate. However, instead of arguing he could also try to understand the forces that work here. If he could start up a project aiming to replace BitKeeper i think alot of people would jump right in. But if he does not then please be a bit more polite against the people working on the Linux kernel.

    So far for this not entirely coherent post...
  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Monday October 14, 2002 @03:09AM (#4444281)
    Say what you want, but the man shure has one hell of an impact.
    He get's pissy on some issue (for valid reasons too), drops a word on it and all of a sudden even slashdot has some really intelligent controversial discussion going on.
    It is really all what someone like RMS could want and bargain for, and if I judge him right it's just what he intended.
    Presumtion:
    From what I gather the kernel group can use a little self reflection to. Because: If kernel dev is actually stalled by this BitKeeper vs. OSS Tool debate (I hope not so hefty) it is in a state where carrying on with buisness as usual would have driven Linux into a messy corner.
    I predict that, within a relatively short term, either Bitkeeper will see a chance for cool PR and modify their license to 'free for free Software products' or something or just now some people are firing up a VCS project that is to Emporer Linus' likeing and thus will be prefered :-).
  • Larry's Comment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pez ( 54 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @07:42AM (#4444879) Homepage Journal
    "If you had built a decent system instead of sitting around and whining, we could be doing something else instead of sitting around listening to your whining."

    Man, did that quote put me off. I wonder, for instance, what compiler Larry uses to build BitKeeper. Or what version of shell utils. Or what editor. Or what MTA. Or what DNS server.

    RMS and friends *did* build a decent system, which is exactly the reason that Larry is getting all of this publicity for BitKeeper. Think anyone would have heard of BitKeeper if Linus didn't endorse it? Think anyone would have heard of Linus if it weren't for RMS' "decent system"?

    -Pez
  • by Arkham ( 10779 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @08:46AM (#4445111)
    I can't believe no one found a mirror when the site got slashdotted. I spent a minute on Google and found this:


    http://www.uwsg.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/0210 .1/1767.html [iu.edu]


    In case this get slashdotted, here is RMS' post (and I quote):



    The new restrictions on Bitkeeper, saying that people who contribute
    to CVS or Subversion and even companies that distribute them cannot
    even run Bitkeeper, have sparked outrage. While these specific
    restrictions are new, their spirit fits perfectly with the previous
    Bitkeeper license.

    The spirit of the Bitkeeper license is the spirit of the whip hand.
    It is the spirit that says, "You have no right to use Bitkeeper, only
    temporary privileges that we can revoke. Be grateful that we allow
    you to use Bitkeeper. Be grateful, and don't do anything we dislike,
    or we may revoke those privileges." It is the spirit of proprietary
    software. Every non-free license is designed to control the users
    more or less. Outrage at this spirit is the reason for the free
    software movement. (By contrast, the open source movement prefers to
    play down this same outrage.)

    If the latest outrage brings the spirit of the non-free Bitkeeper
    license into clear view, perhaps that will be enough to convince the
    developers of Linux to stop using Bitkeeper for Linux development.


HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!

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