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What Aspects of Open Source Projects Do You Avoid?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the don't-you-want-to-cuddle? dept.

Bug 344

paulproteus writes "I'm a Debian developer and a part-time contributor to a few smaller projects. I do a lot of free software-y and open source-y things. Sometimes, though, I don't do them. I figure some other Slashdotters might have similar hang-ups — we contribute to a project, but there are parts that we really dread thinking about. So I wrote a post about having these hang-ups, and I made a place on the web to share how others can help your project. What are the parts that, in your projects, you would be relieved if someone else looked at for you?"

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Ego (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474062)

Especially when someone full of themselves buys the domain name.

Re:Ego (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474088)

All I know is that Kellogg's didn't get

Re:Ego (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474242)

The real question is "Why does MIT even have a fucking waitlist if they haven't used it for the past three years?".

Re:Ego (3, Informative)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474304)

I try to avoid the rabid advocates who seem to think (or at least they project) that using anything that isn't open source is some kind of affront to the entire open source movement.

Sorry guys 'n gals, but sometimes I need something now and can't wait for it to be included, supported or fixed in an open source solution. My clients aren't patient and don't really care about the necessity for creating an equal playing field for all software developers.

Re:Ego (-1, Redundant)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474350)

Exactly the same thing with those try to insist that companies use only open source software or that it being "free" is a major selling point to a corporation. Frankly it rarely is and the only way to compete is to great better (or at least equal) quality software. "Free" doesn't do much if a professional developer needs Visual Studio or an artist needs Photoshop and the comparable OSS software is what it is.

A lot of open source coders seem to avoid UI aspects and usability like a plague though and that can really put people off. Yeah CLI is cool and rather useful on server environment or if you're coder, but if you're just trying to get things done with whatever you're trying you usually need good and easily usable UI. There's a reason why big software companies have people working solely as UI designers - it is an important aspect.

Re:Ego (5, Insightful)

dvice_null (981029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474664)

> A lot of open source coders seem to avoid UI aspects and usability like a plague

- Programmers write code.
- UI designers design UI
- Technical writers write user documentation
- Graphical designers draw buttons and icons

The problem is that majority of open source developers are programmers and UI designing is a completely different profession.
Two possible solutions:
- Programmers must learn UI designing also
- We need more UI designers to join us

Re:Ego (3, Interesting)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474858)

My CS undergrad program has UI design as an obligatory second year course. (1, Informative)

nloop (665733) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474074)

The obligatory annoying irc channel of people asking questions already answered via a web search. (1)

MessedRocker (1273148) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474142)

Freenode in general is annoying. They take running an IRC network way too seriously. (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474148)

Hey now, we cannot have it both ways. If we want to push community support, that means that we have to be ready to answer the same novice questions over and over again, especially since a lot of concepts are lost on Windows and Mac OS users -- like the idea of a package manager. Yes, it may seem like the most obvious question in the entire world, but I frequently get asked things like, "How do I install <some really common package>," and if we are unwilling to answer such basic question, people will just get scared (and subconsciously assume that "Linux is not ready for the desktop").

We may find it annoying, but we absolutely should not avoid it. In fact, we should being doing it more often. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474406)

Your argument assumes that one is a Linux-on-the-desktop evangelist as opposed to someone who is quite content with how it is and doesn't care if the computer illiterate masses can't figure it out, and most certainly is not going to provide free tech support for them when they can't even read the fucking manual. (2, Interesting)

ZackSchil (560462) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474486)

The "app store" concept might help a lot in this regard. (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474562)

Perhaps, but the way Apple envisions the "apps store," I cannot support the concept. The different between repositories in Linux distros, and the "apps store" that Apple is pushing, is clear as day: you can only even have one "apps store," whereas nothing stops you from using third party repos for a given Linux distro.

In any case, we will see how that goes over the next few years. The overwhelming majority of novice users are coming from a Windows background, and so "apps store" is still a concept that is lost on them. (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474650)

It surprises me a little in a way.
i find installing things using a package manager in linux far simpler than installing something in windows but they need to capitalise on that more. (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474642)

if we are unwilling to answer such basic question, people will just get scared (and subconsciously assume that "Linux is not ready for the desktop").

That's not an assumption, that's a conclusion. (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474668)

Not necessarily "we", though, slightly more knowledgeable newbies work just as well. In fact that's how large communities tend to operate in the long run, CmdrTaco doesn't go on spreading Slashdot's standards of netiquette to the ~1.5m UID newbies, it's the ~1m UIDs who do so who were in turn trained by us 900k'ers, which we learnt from the 700k'ers and so on. (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474154)

Don't forget the obligatory #projectname-help channel where any questions are answered with some variation on "RTFM" even though the project documentation is a standard README file, a CHANGELOG file, some GPL info and an uncommented listing of the various classes and functions that's seemingly intended for those actually developing the software (and which is practically useless to the end user even when the end user is another developer since knowing there a Foo class, a Bar class and Frongle class doesn't really help when you're trying to figure out how to use the library/app in a safe and sane way).

try this (2, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474170)

Don't bother with IRC. Insist on email instead.

Then train a bayesian classifier (bogofilter) to answer the questions for you.

You just have to remember Bayesian classifiers are good at yes/no classifications (e.g. spam/notspam), so I have several corpuses and test incoming emails serially against them, tagging with the ones which match. Then process the email according to the tag. FAQ should be fairly easy. Use a procmail rule to answer, "thanks for your question, please have a look here".

License (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474344)

Just copy the code :) (1)

aflag (941367) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474362)

I avoid it for the trolls that want to tell you what you should or shouldn't ask. (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474708)

You might not know it, but there are things that can’t be searched with a web search. For example if you don’t know the words other people use to describe it in the first place. If it can’t be put in words that simply. There are things only a human can recognize as something. Things that defy being put in query form.
So while you might be able to find them, that doesn’t mean someone else can.
It’s like answering the questions of Family Feud. Harder than it looks.

I only go to IRC if a web search doesn’t turn up anything useful. Or if I have looked trough results for hours. Or in above case.
There is one problem with the answers on IRC: Nobody notes them and puts them in a FAQ or knowledge base (perhaps in wiki form).
I think that would make the whole thing much easier.

And I always end up answering tons of questions myself. For example when I enter #Gentoo, I often single-handedly juggle and answer all the questions. And they are honest and legitimate questions.

But maybe you just frequent different channels. Or avoid them with prejudice... which will then of course never change. (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474710)

You're right that most OSS developers don't want to deal with nagging simple questions, and frankly they shouldn't have to. In a large enough project or distro channel, plenty of other people will be happy to answer the annoying repetitive questions for you.

But it's wrong to suggest that developers should avoid IRC entirely. Unless you want your project to remain just a hobby, useful to no one but yourself and a few others, it's a good idea to listen to actual users every once in a while. (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474800)

people asking questions already answered via a web search.

Oh, it's much worse than that -- this one's actually dim enough to be using Palin-speak!

free software-y and open source-y things

public relations (2, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474082)

As long as I don't have to make freindly with the natives, the headhunters, and the unwashed masses, I'm happy.

Re:public relations (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474550)

But I'd be happy to take any money they throw my way. Yeah, money I said. Man, I kill myself.

Adding comments (4, Informative)

kickme_hax0r (968593) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474086)

I've picked up an open source project that doesn't have comments. There's major chunks of it that the code is such a mess that I have no idea what it does, yet I'm supposed to be fixing it.

Re:Adding comments (5, Funny)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474830)

There's the Commentator [] for that.

Anybody have an implementation of that for *nix?

Getting slashdotted... (1)

kevin_j_morse (1282350) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474092)

... I try to avoid it.

Re:Getting slashdotted... (2, Informative)

PetiePooo (606423) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474160)

The blog was cross-posted to [] Lets slashdot them too!

The GPL. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474102)

I do not want to be associated in any way with the crowing cocks like rms who push "software freedom" by restricting the ability of others to use code as they see fit.

Re:The GPL. (-1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474110)

That's why BSD license is a lot better.

Re:The GPL. (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474180)

Better, but still not perfect. Even in a 2-clause BSD, I'm still not allowed to strip the copyrights or the license notice. That's controlling what I can do with the code.

I really wish the GPL zealots and the BSD zealots could realize that the world is big enough for two FOSS licenses. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. Which is better is only a matter of opinion and goals for one's project. There is no One True License.

Re:The GPL. (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474336)

There can be only one!

Re:The GPL. (1, Insightful)

nloop (665733) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474206)

The only thing it restricts is your ability to fork a open project and close the source. I don't know if I'd call changing that an improvement...

And don't give me the "viral" lie. Boxee closed the code it wrote and left the GPL XBMC guts open just fine. You just can't close already open code.

The BSD license (0)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474140)

I refuse to allow my work to be turned into a proprietary codebase which won't allow me to copy it freely in turn. Fight fir with fire. I'll use BSD code, but I will never submit a line of code to such a project.

Re:The BSD license (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474202)

Fight fir with fire

Do you understand that that saying is implying that someone who proverbially fights fire with fire (eg, fight restrictive licensing with restrictive licensing) is as foolish as someone who literally fights fire with fire (eg, putting out a fire with a flamethrower)? Whoever originally coined that saying was thinking to themselves "How can I best explain how bad of an idea it is to mimic your opponents?".

Re:The BSD license (2, Insightful)

xenoterracide (880092) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474270)

One way of stopping a wildfire is to use a controlled burn to burn off the area before the wildfire can reach it. Fighting fire with fire works.

Re:The BSD license (2, Funny)

mrclisdue (1321513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474536)

Not to mention that the op is suggesting that one fights fir with fire, which would normally result in the fir being summarily consumed, immolated, if you will.

Unless the original fire is extremely small AND the fir is extremely green.


Re:The BSD license (1)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474214)

Morals differ. It's a bit like the discussion regarding free speech, where lots of people say "oh I'm all for free speech, alright, AS LONG AS IT'S ABOUT SOMETHING NICE". That's what free speech is for; to allow even the uncomfortable topics to get their breath of air in the public debate in order to illuminate, understand and handle them. Either you accept this, and thus being for free speech, or you don't, and then you're simply not for free speech AT ALL. I have the same perspective of free, and freedom; either you're for freedom, or you're not for freedom at all as is the case with the GPL license ("oh I'm for freedom, alright, AS LONG AS ONLY THOSE I WANT WILL BENEFIT FROM IT"). GPL doesn't extend full freedom to the developers of the software, only to the end-users, and by that definition GPL is not freedom at all. PERIOD.

Freedom is not binary (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474312)

Actually, the GPL extends plenty of freedom to developers; the only restriction is that those developers cannot impose any further restrictions than those imposed by the GPL (at least that is the spirit of the license). Not to push another GPL-vs.-BSDL flamewar, but history shows that this level of restriction is prudent and protects the freedom of developers at later levels of redistribution; both Microsoft and Apple have taken BSD licensed code and turned it into proprietary software, which restricts the freedom of developers who receive copies of the BSD licensed code from Microsoft or Apple. The only people who really see more freedom from BSD licensing are people who want the freedom to restrict the freedom of others; how exactly does the BSD license benefit freedom in that case?

Re:Freedom is not binary (-1, Flamebait)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474412)

GP has a point - BSD license doesn't restrict freedom of anyone directly. You can do pretty much what you want with it, even turn it into an proprietary project. That's true freedom.

GPL in turn directly restricts the ability of other people working with the code to do several things, including using the code in proprietary projects or whatever they want with it. That's not true freedom as it instantly limits a coder. When the BSD licensed code has been taken in to an proprietary project, it's not really BSD's problem anymore. That's why BSD itself doesn't restrict anyone.

If you want true freedom of code, you need to accept using code in a way you don't accept with. Otherwise it's not really freedom, is it?

Re:Freedom is not binary (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474502)

Except, of course, that the overwhelming majority of users and developers who deal with the BSD network stack are shackled by Microsoft's proprietary license (the Windows EULA). This is only possible because of the BSD license. Now, if you do not believe that it is a problem for your users to lose their freedom, as long as a handful of programmers at Microsoft have the freedom to use your code in their proprietary operating system, then I suppose you do not view that as a problem. Freedom is not black and white; sometimes, restricting freedom very slightly (such as not granting the freedom to take freedom from others) will ultimately extend freedom to more people.

Again, why is it a good thing to protect the freedom to restrict the freedoms of others? I do not want the users of my code to suffer under a proprietary license, and therefore I will not grant the freedom to release my code as proprietary software to anyone. If someone wants to restrict the freedom of others, then I really do not see why I should help them in that effort.

Re:Freedom is not binary (1)

rattaroaz (1491445) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474688)

I agree completely, but I think you and the GP may be confusing choice with freedom, which is a common mistake. Freedom by its very nature is limiting, because although there choice, there is also responsibility. Without the responsibility part, you have choice, but not freedom. BSD permits choice, but lacks protection of freedom. (not arguing the merits. Some people prefer this). I can choose to kill someone, but I cannot pretend that that is freedom.

We don't want your code, thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474428)

I'll use BSD code, but I will never submit a line of code to such a project.

Thanks. That's basically how we want you to operate.

Given your zealous nature and your love for the GPL's utter destruction of freedom, we doubt your sensibility and basic reasoning skills. If you can't comprehend a simple concept like freedom, then I sure as hell don't think that you can properly comprehend anything relating to programming or software development.

Use our code all you want. It's the best code around, and much better than anything you could write.

We don't want your code, because it's shit. Keep it to yourself, please.

Re:The GPL. (0, Redundant)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474156)

Seems my own post was a bit late. I, too, steer well clear of GPL, in favor of f.e. BSD and zlib.

Re:The GPL. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474388)

You are always at liberty to 'code as you see fit' so long as you don't try to sponge off of someone else and then ignore their wishes.

Writing tests, user-level docs, and finding bugs (5, Insightful)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474104)

Please, for the love of God, somebody come along and write a test suite for my project. I'm sick of breaking code by accident! ;)

Re:Writing tests, user-level docs, and finding bug (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474864)

Oh yes. Bug reports that come with test cases are worth their weight in metaphors. One of the most useful contributions I've received was a test suite for my Smalltalk compiler. If you give me a bug report with a simple test case that lets me reproduce it, I can usually fix it quickly. I fixed one bug a few months ago that was dependent on library load order. On my machine, it never appeared. On someone else's, it always appeared. Once I had a test case that made it appear on my machine it was a trivial fix.

Most hippyware users don't pay for the code. When you use off-the-shelf software, there is a clear relationship between users and the project. Both users and developers are contributors - the users contribute money and the developers contribute code. With hippyware, a lot of the users are freeloaders. I don't have a problem with that - I don't lose anything from their use of the software - but I'm much more likely to bother listening to the opinions of other contributors than freeloaders.

Being a contributor doesn't always mean contributing code. Artwork, translations, bug fixes, and especially test cases can be contributed by people who aren't programmers (well, in the last case you might need some programming experience, but not much). If you've contributed any of these things, I'll pay a lot more attention to your feature requests. The same goes, of course, if you want to pay me for a bit to add a feature.

Responding to zealots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474116)

This isn't a troll, I'm serious.

Have a GPL license? Respond to corporate zealots who want license exceptions and the rare BSD or MIT zealot who screams about how it isn't free.

MIT license? Respond to the GPL zealots who scream about how you aren't free.

So yeah, basically I'd like a PR team :D.

One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (2, Interesting)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474126)

In developing (I work with a company doing _mostly_ web-based applications; perl, php, asp, all that gibberish) I steer clear of projects and software with a troublesome license. I am very pro-open source, I am very pro-freedom, and I am very pro-FREE FOR NON-COMMERCIAL USE, so don't get the wrong idea, but I mainly steer clear of anything GPL when it comes to the point of including GPLd software in the projects I work with. Simply: it spells nothing but trouble to me. Please do discuss, debate, don't just f***ing go all nazi gpl/linux/grandma on this by modding it "troll".

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (5, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474158)

You could say "I choose to respect the GPL in situations where I am not prepared or legally able to do the work necessary for compliance."

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (1)

correnos (1727834) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474166)

Thank you, finally someone else that views GPL as troublesome. BSD liscense is the way to go.

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474200)

Have you ever read Slashdot before? There are tons of people who don't like the GPL on here, some with reasonable opinions, some frothing lunatics.

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (1)

MessedRocker (1273148) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474176)

I find that the effectiveness of a software license is directly proportional to the amount of money the coder has to spend on legal fees. Maybe I don't have enough experience here, but free-software coders don't strike me as particularly wealthy.

(This statement is not an endorsement of software license violation, which is considered copyright infringement and not just contract violation.)

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474218)

UC Berkeley and MIT both have plenty of funds for lawyers. The FSF and Apache foundations (among others) also have significant funds to expend on legal advice.

Or are you talking about the people employing the licenses, rather than the people creating them?

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (1)

MessedRocker (1273148) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474238)

I'm referring to the people who are using the licenses, yes.

GPL is not troublesome (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474230)

The GPL is not troublesome when it comes to developing web based applications, unless you really want to charge royalties or forbid your users from modifying the source code (legally, that is); it does not sound like either is the case for you. On the other hand, the GPL prevents others from engaging in those same activities with your code -- if that is an issue for you, I would be very interested in knowing why (why would you want to leave open the option of others collecting royalties on your code if you yourself do not seek them?).

Why do you feel that the GPL spells trouble?

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (0, Troll)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474234)

I steer clear of the BSD licenses when contributing.

For precisely the same reason you like it: there are no strings attached. Which means you can have my stuff without having to give anything back. I consider that such an arrangement effectively makes me an unpaid employee of your company, so I won't contribute anything significant under such terms.

I contribute under the GPL/AGPL because in such a case I do get something back: either somebody else's code, or money, if somebody wants a different license.

For the same reason, I preferentially use GPL licensed code. I might want to send a patch some day, but contributing something takes effort. I need to cleanup my code, figure out where to send it, perhaps discuss it on the mailing list with the project, and so on. That's quite a lot of boring work, so I expect to get something out of it.

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474330)

People can use GPL code without giving anything back. They just can't modify it and hide those modifications from their users.

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474368)

For very limited uses only, and it can be quite impractical to keep up.

If it's code you only use internally, then nobody knows of your modifications and the codebase can evolve in ways that make it difficult to keep patching. And the moment you distribute it you have to give the code to anybody you distributed to who asks.

You may be able to play tricks like Tivo if you release a physical product, but that doesn't mean you can omit giving the source, and there's the GPL3 for that case. The AGPL covers the web usage case.

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474430)

Yeah, people make 'limited' use of the linux kernel.

(and then there are the interesting counter examples; if you measure how fast they have progressed, Webkit has progressed a lot more since Apple and Google started sharing some of their work than Gecko has progressed in the same interval of time; so commercial companies sharing based on their own self interest are (at least arguably) throwing off more benefit than a semi-commercial open effort)

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474492)

Oh, misunderstood what you said.

Use without modification is something that's mostly neutral from my point of view. My interest is in development.

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474472)

So what you are saying is that you object to people stealing your imaginary property?

How does them stealing it diminish your enjoyment of it?

If 1000 people steal your code, do you have 1000 less code?


Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474558)

So what you are saying is that you object to people stealing your imaginary property?
How does them stealing it diminish your enjoyment of it?
If 1000 people steal your code, do you have 1000 less code?

Wow, what a way to miss the point.

It's GPL licensed. People are free to use it all they want. If 1000 people use it, all the better, it makes more likely somebody will contribute or want to pay me.

It seems a very fair exchange to me -- you can have my code if I can have your.

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (3, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474288)

Going off on not wanting to be called a troll without explaining why GPL is so troublesome to you doesn't help the discussion that you're supposedly trying to have here.

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (0, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474308)

What does "pro-freedom" mean in this context? I'm pro-freedom, too. Freedom to wear polka-dot pants to church. The GPL protects the freedom of users, where you want a license that protects the freedom of the developer. Unless you're just trolling (hard to tell) then you're still offtopic; we're talking about what programming tasks do you avoid, not what programming projects.

OF COURSE you don't put GPL code on your projects (1)

Punto (100573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474392)

unless you want your project to become GPL. that's the rule. how hard is it to follow?

Re:OF COURSE you don't put GPL code on your projec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474516)

His point is not that it's hard to follow, but that he's frustrated to see other people enjoying the shiny GPL toys that he can't touch because his company is on the other side of the license glass.

Re:OF COURSE you don't put GPL code on your projec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474812)

Very hard, apparently.

Lets say I'm developing a webapp for a client. Standard LAMP stack, and the frontend uses ExtJS.

I'm giving my client sourcecode, and they in turn are running the webapp publically.

Since I'm giving them sourcecode, does MySQL's GPL license require me to license it as GPL, even though my client is not going to redistribute it?
What about ExtJS's sourcecode that is also GPL? The only thing it links to is other javascript on the site, all of which is of course sent out in sourcecode format as theres no other way to do it. But does the 'linking clause' stop at javascript interaction, or does anything I use XMLHTTPRequests to access count as linking? If it does then my client would need to release sourcecode, which ExtJS's site seems to imply is the case. But if that is true it would become illegal to use GPLed javascript to do ajax requests to any public API that isn't GPL.

This is all asusming a public webapp. What if its an inhouse tool? Does that remove the requirements of redistribution?

I won't even get into the gray area that is TiVo, but if the GPL wasn't "hard to follow" they wouldn't have had to rewrite it to clarify Stallman's stance of some issues that came up. Which as a GPLv2 project, you may or may not agree with.

Re:One thing I don't do is troublesome licenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474468)

The solution is simple. All you have to do is also license your code under the GPL. Problem Solved. Also, the more GPL code there is, the better.

(The BSD License is okay, but I wouldn't put anything I made under it.)

Trivia (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474168)

I'm struck by two small things that make me wonder. First, you seem to be using HTTPS for pages that don't need it; not an optimal config. Second, the first project you discuss is a text mode email client!

Re:Trivia (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474478)

Nothing wrong with using HTTPS for normal sites too. It's actually quite stupid that web traffic by default is all in plain-text, even login boxes on most sites.

Re:Trivia (1)

nicc777 (614519) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474612)

If you paid for it, you might as well use it...

Re:Trivia (1)

bipbop (1144919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474652)

What exactly is it about a text mode email client that "makes you wonder"? What do you wonder?

real hackers don't dread (4, Insightful)

10am-bedtime (11106) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474172)

Ahhh, can't resist...

Real hackers don't dread unpleasant tasks. They write code that (perhaps write code that) does the unpleasant task for them.

Re:real hackers don't dread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474266)

How do you write code to do PR/create docs? Please, be my hero.

Re:real hackers don't dread (3, Funny)

quantaman (517394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474356)

How do you write code to do PR/create docs? Please, be my hero.

Simple, you obviously just need to write a program capable of passing the Turing Test.

Of course when you finish you probably want to give it some interesting tasks besides just PR/documentation, last thing you want is for it to get pissed off and go all Skynet.

Re:real hackers don't dread (4, Funny)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474462)

Sorry, but I tried that already. It was an incredible AI, so I assigned it the process of documenting my latest project. Unfortunately that was too unpleasant of a task for it, so now it's working on code to create PR docs. I guess I'll just see what it comes up with.

Re:real hackers don't dread (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474848)

Beautiful Code - Chapter 28 "Automated Debugging"

Why aren't we all using that eh? Incredible stuff, data-mining CVS commits and nailing the exact line that causes the bugs.

Beautiful Code indeed.

Someone avoided performance optimizations (2, Interesting)

paziek (1329929) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474212)

Someone avoided performance optimizations on
If you have tough time deciding if you should do those, ask slashdot - that will clear up things!

From a user perspective (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474280)

I think the answer is obvious - what most developers avoid like the plague is documentation.

An advantage of Closed Source (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474282)

This is a real problem with Open Source Software... There is some parts about creating a program that just isn't fun. When you are in a corporate environment you kinda have to go threw the drudge work to get your job done. Now for large open source projects with a good corporate backing this isn't much of an issue as say the IBM Drone will be forced to get the job done in time. However most open source projects don't have the corporate backing and is based only on the joy of the project. When fun stuff is over the project doesn't get completed.

How are volunteers unique here? (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474342)

What makes you think that corporate programmers are necessarily going to do drudge work better than volunteers? I guess you have only ever worked with big name proprietary software, where a lot of care was taken; I have seen many proprietary software packages that are barely usable, but they are niche products with little competition and thus there is no incentive for anyone to do a good job. So, where is the proprietary advantage?

Re:How are volunteers unique here? (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474684)

I have seen many proprietary software packages that are barely usable, but they are niche products with little competition and thus there is no incentive for anyone to do a good job.

I want to say something snarky about barely usable proprietary operating systems and word processors...I just can't think of anything that's actually funny (as usual).

Re:An advantage of Closed Source (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474452)

However most open source projects don't have the corporate backing and is based only on the joy of the project

Non-toy open source projects have significant corporate backing.

Thanks for Slashdotting me (5, Funny)

paulproteus (112149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474300)

Working on fixing the site...

Re:Thanks for Slashdotting me (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474326)

When you make your stew without beef, do not complain that it is not filling.

Re:Thanks for Slashdotting me (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474396)

Thanks for visiting my blog as I requested when I submitted my Ask Slashdot question

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Thanks for Slashdotting me (1)

paulproteus (112149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474438)

I'm not saying I *mind* the attention. I agree that I was unprepared. (-:

Redirects and aggressive caching (1)

paulproteus (112149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474624)

You can all read the links now, thanks to Coral cache for the blog post, and memcached on our server.


avoiding reality altogether (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474302)

as in avoiding the source code of life.

never a better time to consult with/trust in your creators, providing more than enough of everything for everybody since/until forever, without any distracting personal gain motives, using an unlimited supply of way user friendly newclear power. the 'code' of which is freely (as in total freedom forever) available to all.

Unreproducible bugs (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474318)

What are the parts that, in your projects, you would be relieved if someone else looked at for you?

How about unreproducible bugs?

I hate the whole situation.

The bug reports; "Uh, I got an error or something when I tried to run it" "OK, what was the error" "I don't know" "So how do you know theres a problem?"

Failing to reproduce the error. This ties in with the "prove a negative" problem. When to give up? Just document what I'm doing and hope for the best, I guess.

Problems that are probably specification failures but you can't prove it. Closely tied to mystery black boxes that do something, but no one is entirely certain what. Even funnier when there isn't really a spec, just kind of a goal. Best of all, when two groups make opposing policy decisions and want you to consider each other's design to be a bug.

When to close out the hopeless bug. Well, it doesn't hurt anything to keep it open. But bean counters like easily counted beans, like how many open bugs. Will I insult the submitter by closing it? Some 3rd party weirdos like to get involved at that stage, "I'm morally superior to you because I never give up on a bug like you did, ha ha ha" while the reality of the situation is they merely have more spare time, a poor self image, and a desire to very publicly display it. aka the "ticket ss" "I am morally superior and I say we will have order here! Order! Achtung!"

Finally, last but not least, circumstantially, crazy/insane people seem to encounter more unreproducible bugs than typical people. Don't know if they're more ornery so the tend to report more, or more creative so they tend to find more, but I do know they're a pain to deal with.

Other than that, its not so bad.

Re:Unreproducible bugs (3, Insightful)

gringer (252588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474598)

Here's some advice that I find useful when reporting bugs: []

There are some non-obvious things in there, such as trying things that clearly won't work, if asked to by the programmer:

Somebody reported a bug to me once, and I asked him to try a command that I knew wouldn't work. The reason I asked him to try it was that I wanted to know which of two different error messages it would give. Knowing which error message came back would give a vital clue. But he didn't actually try it - he just mailed me back and said "No, that won't work". It took me some time to persuade him to try it for real.

Installation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474436)

I do cross platform win32 and linux stuff, I hate fidling about with the installers etc.

Security through obscurity (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474464)

Some of my projects I have involve security through obscurity. Obviously this gets hacked eventually, but making it Open Source would get it hacked immediately and harder. I run a game of hack and counter hack in my projects like an escalating war. If I'm lazy and want to release early, I may not put a lot of counter hacks in.

I know the counter argument that releasing a project will let it become secure. But there are some things which simply cannot be made more secure. An example of this would be Starcraft 1 which transfers the data between both clients so you can't prevent the map hack. Any way you look at it, if both computers have the information of every unit, a hack can be made. Now you can have counter hacks by security professionals to identify hackers and ban them. But if the information of the counter hacks was made public, hackers would work around them and not be identified and banned.

So there are times when you want your code secretive instead of publishing to Open Source.

Re:Security through obscurity (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474790)

Security through obscurity never ends well, for the simple reason that once the hack is in the wild, you are done for -- you now have to replace the entire system, rather than just updating some keys. Really, if the only way you can keep your system from being attacked is by obscuring it, then you are probably faced with a more general problem of trying to secure something which is inherently impossible to secure; such situations are very, very rare, DRM being about the only one that comes to mind (and that is not exactly a constructive endeavor).

You bring up Starcraft, which is an interesting choice of example -- it is actually possible to secure such a system, without relying on obscurity, using lesser known forms of public key cryptography. The situation, of course, is that a player might simply lie about not knowing where enemy units are, or might substitute a different map, or might lie about which units he has killed or where his units are located. The solutions to these problems all have a common theme: the game either cannot be played unless neither player is cheating, or a cheating player is forced to reveal that they are cheating. For a game like Starcraft, this would become rather complicated, but poker involves similar challenges and serves as a good example:

First, we will rely on the existence of a cipher with the following property: enc[k2, enc[k1, x]] = enc[k1, enc[k2, x]] -- in other words, if the cipher is repeatedly applied with different secret keys, the order is irrelevant (and thus, it can be decrypted in any order). Such ciphers do exist (you can look this up in any modern crypto textbook). Now, to deal a hand, player 1 will encrypt each card with some secret key (identical for each card), using a cipher with the property described above, and send the deck to player 2 in a random order. Player 2 will then select five encrypted cards, and use his secret key to encrypt them, sending them back to player 1 for decryption. Then, player 2 will select five more encrypted cards, and send them to player 1 (or at least the indices), and that will be player 1's hand. When it comes time to show the cards (we will ignore the issue of exchanging cards; this is also possible to do, using a similar procedure), players 1 and 2 simple reveal their secret keys -- thus, cheating is easily detected, because player 2 can see if player 1 lied about his hand, and visa versa.

It is reasonable to assume that a similar sort of scheme could be applied to Starcraft, since Starcraft also involves players learning information after secret moves by other players; it is just a little more complex than Poker. In general, such situations fall into the category of "secure multiparty computation" -- situations in which distributed computation is necessary, but where participants in the computation may lie about results or where some parts of the computation must remain secret from certain participants at certain stages.

If you don't mind my asking, what sort of work do you do where you feel that obscurity is the only possible answer?

Outsourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474654)

This site is going to reveal certain kinds of project coding that generally disliked and thus understaffed. These sections could be hired out to coders and students in places like India, and really anywhere a student needs to make a little extra to cover rent or beer fund. Something like set up a little donation service to offer a gratuity for dealing with unloved gruntwork.

Could also offer a swap. Senior coders can offer to mentor students willing to push through these sections.

Evangelism. (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31474828)

But I avoid that for everything.

Like preaching close-minded people, who think that they are much more open-minded than you just because they oppose what they perceive as the majority opinion. When they are really religiously locked on the exact opposite view, even sometimes imitating the opposite.

Or in short: People that don’t think for themselves and people that try to force their reality upon me.

Two examples would be
1) Those that completely and totally avoid putting anything closed-source on their system, even if they only have disadvantages because of it, and even if in the long run, it would help them getting free from closed source. In the case of (graphics) drivers, much more people would use Linux, if they could use all their hardware like on Windows. Which would force other companies to support Linux more. Which would strengthen open source as a whole, and also put more pressure on the still closed drivers, who now would be the worse working ones.
2) The Gnome team, who think they know better than me, what I want to do with my system and how I want to do it, and therefore only include options they think I should use. They even remove options that they don’t want me to use. Only cattle, fanboys and themselves can stand that in the long run. Since others will run into differences. A good programmer also allows options that he does not like. Because he cares for his users. That’s why they are options. He can still make his choice the default. (Yes, KDE4 also fell for this a bit. And Apple practically invented it.)

Documentation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31474888)

Nobody likes writing documentation......poor documentation is the most common critiscism of an IT project at completion.

I's open source so the users can just read the code right?

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