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Credit and Free Software

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the where-it's-due dept.

Programming 213

Hans Reiser - you're thinking ReiserFS, and you'd be right - has a proposal to slather Free Software with credits for its authors. Good? Bad? This is something the community has generally moved away from, but maybe Reiser has a good point. Newsforge is part of OSDN.

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Points not to be discounted lightly (4, Insightful)

dtolton (162216) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869384)

I strongly agree with Reiser on this issue. Although he doesn't
necessarily argue for "slathering" software with attributions, rather
he argues convincingly IMO that the credit for a piece of software
should remain visible to the public users. This can be tastefully
done easily, the point is that leaving the credit for writing the
software in the source code is pointless as most people don't ever
read the source code.

It isn't even so much that someone can't supply a new spalsh screen,
it just needs to include attributions to the original authors. I
think he makes some very interesting and very valid points. It is
interesting to note as he states, that although Stallman is a huge
contributor to many projects, he rarely gets credited on anything.
I feel the same way as Reiser on this, even though Stallman doesn't
want to burden the software with licensing restrictions, it bothers
me that he gets so little in the way of credit for what he has helped
to bring about.

You are a homosexual (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869412)

You are, aren't you! Going down on dirty Gnu hippies, or at least constantly thinking about it. You make me sick.

Re:Points not to be discounted lightly (4, Insightful)

Fembot (442827) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869437)

People that don't read the source code arent the sort of people who are likely to rember names IMO. (Or care about names generaly for that matter)

Also doesn't this proposed license contradict the definition of a freesoftware license?

And your point about stallman is probably not a good example. He is one of the very few developers that are well known and have got a big reputation in the opensource community.
What Reiser was saying is it would be an incentive to smaller developers to contribute stuff if they thought that someone somewhere would randomly see their name splashed on the screen. I think I'm inclined to disagree with this basicaly selfrightosness

Re:Points not to be discounted lightly (2, Insightful)

FooBarWidget (556006) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869726)

"And your point about stallman is probably not a good example. He is one of the very few developers that are well known and have got a big reputation in the opensource community."

Well if you look at Slashdot, then I'd say he has a big reputation of being the man who gets most flamed at!
Just look at the Slashdot article about the GNU/Linux FAQ. It generated well over 1000 comments, of which 95% are trolls, flames and personal insults towards RMS. A lot of them even got modded up to +5 Insightful!

Re:Points not to be discounted lightly (5, Insightful)

usotsuki (530037) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869451)


Nuff said? Nuff said.

(FreeGEM Desktop does about the same thing under Desk\Info)


Re:Points not to be discounted lightly (5, Insightful)

UtucXul (658400) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869458)

Last I checked, the man pages of nearly all software show the authors' names. And most of the time, it is a program's web page that people need to go to for help pr useful info, and those are always filled with names of people who worked on it. I don't see why we need much more than that.

Re: IN DEMOCRATIQ IRAQ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869507)



Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869623)

hans REISER next information minister will be YOU!!!

Haven't We Been Here Before (4, Insightful)

Carnage4Life (106069) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869548)

It seems history, even short term history repeats itself. This was tried in the past by the BSD license and was taken out [] because it is way too onerous. The problems with requiring such credit are well enumerated by the Free Software Foundation in the essay entitled "The BSD License Problem" [] .

On the surface, it sounds like a good idea until you consider what it means to give prominent credit to all the major people who are involved with a piece of software. The larger a project is the larger the number of active participants. More importantly when a project gets large enough it acquires dependencies that provide significant functionality which also are as deserving of credit as the original application developers.

For example I built a news aggregator that is an now a source code available project on GotDotNet [] that has 70 developers signed up with about a dozen having been active in one shape or the other. There are also dependencies on three external libraries that also provide significant functionality. If this was a commercial product exactly how feasible would it be for me to give prominence to everyone who provided significant value to the application? What metric would I use?

Re:Haven't We Been Here Before (2, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869634)

On the other hand, one of the big advantages of free software is that you can find a *named person* responsible for each line of code and if necessary contact that person directly, rather than some moronic 'helpline'. So the list of credits should definitely be there... But I don't agree that this goal, however desirable, should be enforced by licensing.

Re:Points not to be discounted lightly (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869561)

To both the story submitter and the parent author:

Look, it's really not a big deal, but if you're going to use an uncommon word, please do it correctly: You don't "slather" free software with credits; you slather credits all over free software.

Re:Points not to be discounted lightly (4, Insightful)

stevew (4845) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869653)

I have some significant problems with - what is the difference between this concept and what was the original BIG problem with "BSD Style licenses" where you had to display the copyright notice at boot time/use time? Remember that??? The GPL people stayed away from BSD licenses because of this copyright clause. Now that the BSD licenses don't have the copyright notice they are perhaps "more free" that GPL since they don't have the "contribute the changes back" requirement!

Further - the whole concept behind BSD and GPL style licenses is that the user is free to change/modify/use the software as needed. A change to "give the author credit" is a definite usage requirement!!!! It isn't free then?!?!

Look - the authors have a right to put their code under ANY license requirement they like. If they choose to do this - well, I just don't think the software would then qualify as either Free or Open Source software in my mind.

Bad credit? No credit? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869392)

Then the new GPL Secured Platinum Card from RMS is for you! All the credit you ever wanted, in one small piece of code.

the purpose of free software for many IS credit (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869393)

I know quite a few people who have written second rate software under Free licenses for nothing more than a bit of prestige and something to write on their CV. Indeed, even some of the more major F/OSS contributors seem to take development as a career advancement/fame trip.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this, mind. I just want to remind some of the zealots that writing Free software is often not the selfless idealistic cause some make it out to be.

Re:the purpose of free software for many IS credit (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869404)

Quite. And anyone who puts their own name in the name of their software, Mr Reiser "of ReiserFS fame", has pretty blatant opinions on modesty that he really didn't need to write a whole article about to reveal.

Re:the purpose of free software for many IS credit (3, Insightful)

JJahn (657100) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869443)

Also, Linux = Linus. What's your point?

What exactly is wrong with naming something after yourself?

Re:the purpose of free software for many IS credit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869462)

You appear unable to read. The parent explicitly said that there is nothing necessarily wrong with this, merely pointing out that some people use credit as a major/only incentive for writing FOSS.

Re:the purpose of free software for many IS credit (1)

JJahn (657100) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869626)

You appear unable to comprehend that I was responding to the post under the parent.

Re:the purpose of free software for many IS credit (2, Insightful)

Cromac (610264) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869565)

I know quite a few people who have written second rate software under Free licenses for nothing more than a bit of prestige...

How much prestige can they get for writing second rate software? I don't recall many people being very impressed by second rate anything.

My dick itches. (2, Offtopic)

Bitter Old Man (572131) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869394)

Immersing it in vinegar is not helping, either.

Re:My dick itches. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869429)

Oh ho ho sir! I suggest you cut the ghey fayg man sex with michael out of your schedule! He got the SARS on my balls sack, sir! Ho ho ho!

Ho-Ho Man! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869552)

I've seen your work in Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker, sir, and I have to tell you, I'm impressed.

Get your dick outta the peanut butter, cause you're fuckin' nuts!

help - about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869403)

If I am impressed with a piece of software enough, I will look. Don't bother me with splash screens or anything else of the sort.

Splash screens are no better than pop-ups (1)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869775)

Help -> About is a good place to list credits.
Or maybe developers could start adding Help -> Credits menus to software.

I do think it's important that developers get credit, but do it in a way that's not counter productive to the end users of the software.

OSS belongs to the community (4, Insightful)

vosbert (544192) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869408)

OSS belongs to the community. There's really no need for credits. Where would we draw the line if we allowed credits? banner ads? annoying pleas for money? pop up windows?

Re:OSS belongs to the community--that IS enough (2, Insightful)

Silent_E (592458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869503)

vosbert has a really good point. I like the idea of things belonging to the community more than to any individual person. Yet there is a way that an analogy should be made to art here. If you like a sculpture, or a piece of code, you should be able to find the artist/designer. So, perhaps v would say that having credit in the source code is enough, that anyone who really wants to find the designer, could. But the name of the artist adds to the work (yet perhaps only for marketing reasons?)

I spend a minute being torn.

I thought that I was going to post that while Reiser's suggestion that linux have a mandatory screen saver that flashes credit is totally micro$oftesque in its totalitarianism, but his point is well-taken, and oss designers deserve credit. Instead, your comment really convinced me. Anyone who wants to find the designers can by looking in the source code. What user would be searching for a designer who couldn't get it togeher to look in the source code? And what *other* sort of person would care who wrote linux or anything else? The glory of OSS comes from being a shared project in every senes. Let's keep the focus on that. Kudos to vosbert for convincing me.

Re:OSS belongs to the community (2, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869594)

Belong to the community... yeah sure my ass.

As an OSS developer myself I feel everyone is entitled to use a copy of my stuff for whatever they want. I don't feel they "own" the project though.

I mean a lot of work goes into something like a Distro [or the stuff in a Distro]. Just because you're smart enough to put a CD in and install a distro doesn't mean you're a significant contributor.

I'm all for tasteful plugging authors names.


Re:OSS belongs to the community (2, Insightful)

the uNF cola (657200) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869605)

Ok, hold on a sec. At the current state of things, many softwares are at one extreme. People have no clue on where it comes from.

Linux is one of the fortunates, 'cause people may easily assume it with Linux. Same with ReiserFS and MAYBE the BSD's. B is for Berkeley, it's good enough for me. Even Netscape Mozilla, Microsoft Windows, Lotus 123.

Today, I used pan. The news reader. Unless I go search, I haven't a clue who wrote pan, nor do I care. I also used Spammassassin.

What is being suggested, is there be some default inbetween. You are right, it belongs to the community if it was given to the community. What he's saying is, default it to have something in there. Let the world know, that Linus did the initial work on Linux, and that me, a small developer, contributed to some software or even wrote my own. And if you don't like the credit showing up every time, take it out! That's the nice thing about OSS. Worse comes to worse, if it is hard to remove, someone will write a patch to make it easy to deal with or people just won't use it.

Re:OSS belongs to the community (1)

mickwd (196449) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869691)

"OSS belongs to the community."

OSS is released under various different licences which specify what the copyright owner will allow the "community" to do with it (which is usually pretty unrestricted, compared with closed-source software - after all, that's the point of OSS). But the community as a whole doesn't own it.

"Where would we draw the line if we allowed credits? banner ads? annoying pleas for money? pop up windows?"

Most of us would draw the line in a sensible place, and not think a load of bollocks about the "thin end of the wedge".

Hans Reiser - reiserfs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869410)

This guy definitely want credit :-)

Give 'em credit! (3, Interesting)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869411)

Listen. The authors wrote the software. They did so with the knowledge that it would be distributed freely (as in libremente) and as such they would probably not make any money off it. Despite this, they have put a lot of effort, blood, sweat and tears into making something that is reasonably functional, efficient and safe to use. I know exactly how difficult it is to produce good software.

The way I see it, the authors deserve to have credits all over the free software that they made. And when you run free software, don't tell yourself that it's your right to take someone else's work and use it "just because." You have the right to use it because THEY gave you that right.

Re:Give 'em credit! (4, Interesting)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869473)

And when you run free software, don't tell yourself that it's your right to take someone else's work and use it "just because." You have the right to use it because THEY gave you that right.

While that's true on it's face, I would counter that making the fruits of your labor available to others in the community is not an entirely selfless act.

Really, quality OSS projects are not the work of a single person. They're the result of wide-ranging teams who, thanks to the GPL, are able to apply many eyes, ideas and approaches. That's the whole strength of OSS.

Now, I do believe it's important to give credit to those who work hard, but I also believe it's futile to toss credits in the face of someone who doesn't give a toss (and not giving a toss is a right the GPL gives you, as well).

Re:Give 'em credit! (2, Insightful)

antiMStroll (664213) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869590)

Developers can do what they want already. They don't because they know it will alienate users, but Help>About isn't enough for Hans. Hans is proposing credit - let's be blunt: commercials for the developers - be a mandated condition of the software license, universally and continually forced on users in screensavers and splashscreens. This isn't due credit, this is megalomania. I can already hear his next argument, that the name Reiser should be displayed equal time on all distros carrying his FS, whether the user chose to activate it or not. Equal time, fair, right?

I use OSS precisely because it's not personality and marketing driven in user-land. The day Hans' proposal bears fruit is the day I buy a Mac.

Re:Give 'em credit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869736)

Credit is fine, when you close the application, pop up a brief credit list, capable of being ESCaped out of... end of story.

live on open source? (1)

tychoS (200282) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869415)

Are there any known cases of program ideas, in contrast to projects projects trying to copy and improve the idea of an existing program, that was made available as open source from the start of?

If yes, how did the people behind the project earn enough money off the idea to at least pay their living expenses and some more to compensate for the risc. they took that failure of the project would lead with them to have lived without income for a while?

I ask because I am at present engaged in producing a piece of software that is not a copy of an existing product, and cannot think of a way to make a living out of it if I release it as open source.

Re:live on open source? (1)

Silent_E (592458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869534)

Most open source folks, and most back in the day before micro$oft, made money by offering to supply paid support. Check the web for stuff Beagle Brother's Software for one of the most awesome models in history: they sold the software, but made the source open, and sold support. All software used to be like this.

Re:live on open source? (1)

tychoS (200282) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869720)

Well yes, the service and support route is often mentioned, especially as something that was common up until the pc's came on the scene with their scrink wrapped software. It is still used in the mainframe software business by CA, IBM et. all. with sizeable amounts of money changing being paid for yearly "subscriptions" for the right to use th esoftware as well as access to service and support from its manufactor.

However apart from cygnus, linuxcare and a few more companies that sold service and support for other peoples open source programs and sort of crashed and burned during the .com age, are there a sizeable number of contemporary succesfull cases especially where the program authors ran the service and support business themself?

I did look for such cases and while I found some very small mom&pop style operations that apered to operate succesfully, I did not find a huge number of these, and not really anything larger than this.

I am looking for a way to support a team of around ten people who will work on the product itself on an ongoing base, but have not seen examples of operations doing this well with the income from a service and support organisation for an open source program.

Free Our Egos! (0)

Alan Holman (607935) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869421)

As a provider of free content on the internet myself -- not usually computer programs, though -- I agree with you that programmers, and anyone who provides any free content, deserve recognition. Free materials on the internet are usually high quality. They're free because it's the author's passion to create it, be it a computer program, or a series of unproduced television scripts [] . Anyone who makes free content, does it out of passion. That passion makes quality products, and encouraging publicity of the author's names will encourage productivity from that author.

People First (1)

yintercept (517362) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869613)

A great deal of modern philosophy holds that individual egos are bad. We need to supress the individual for the good of society. Companies never mention anything about who their employees are. People are anonymous drones behind the corporate brand, etc..

That we do so much to suppress the individual is the main reason why some many people find Ayn Rand a breath of fresh air. It is wonderful to read a work that extols the individual, even if the work gets a bit silly at times.

Except for a few CEOs, the whole computer industry has been pretty much faceless. I think it would be great to see more faces and names attached to computer software. I would hate to see slathering, but a longer list of references would be interesting.

The downside, of course, is that only the names of avid self promoters will make the list. A great deal of free software is created by someone reverse engineering or often copying code from others. There is also a tendency of people claiming the title System Architect to snag ideas from coders and testers.

It is disheartening, when you are in the trenches, to see someone you despise using your work in their self promotions.

When you get down to it. The majority of foundational work in computer science has been done already. To a great extent the work that goes into OSS is porting ideas between platforms, honing ideas and testing. The names that would appear today would largely be the names of people who are porting technologies between platforms.

The legitimacy of the names will always be in question, but I like the idea of greater recognition for the people behind the scenes. I think it would be great for people in the world to know programmers' names along with the CEOs and venture capitalists.

Doubled Edged Sword (3, Insightful)

Heinr!ch (631474) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869422)

First, I think that mostly FOSS developers and engineers can appreciate the work that goes into this stuff. So I sortof agree that additional credit might be good as a way of thanking those who have made contributions. Software, especially application software, tends to be like a collage. Do you credit everyone equally? Do some people get more credit? What happens if we forget to thank/credit certain people along the way? I think this could be a disaster and potential hurt the movement.

Re:Doubled Edged Sword (1)

antiMStroll (664213) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869659)

My guess is that in Hans' mind team leaders of the Important Stuff (cough....cough...files systems..) deserve much more credit than the authors of XBill, Ion or Samba Swat module plugins. There is no way to credit the tens of thousands who make any one distribution possible. And what about IBM, Netscape, and Sun, corporations who devote sums and labour no one individual can match? How can this not devolve into another opportunity for commercial advertising?

The proposal is grotesquely and transparently self-serving, in my opinion incredibly short-sighted and not made with the best interest of the entire developer community in mind. Hans is beckoning developers to OSS hell.

This is a good idea. (3, Funny)

Meat Blaster (578650) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869424)

For many who contribute, the only compensation they see is in recognition. Everybody knows who Linux is, but how about the guy that put sed together?

I would like to propose that, in addition to the mandatory screensaver displaying the credits, that every fifth time you run a utility its name, version number, date of creation, and author are read through the speaker. This way, people can truly appreciate the donation of software by others. To celebrate Free Software's global approach towards solving problems, this should be subtitled on the screen in the user's native language. This way, we can truly feel the joy of helping people without compensation while being compensated for it.

Re:This is a good idea. (2, Funny)

joshtimmons (241649) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869521)

Or, better yet, every fifth time you run a utility it should quiz you for the author's name. If you don't know the answer, then it refuses to run.

That will get people to learn author's names.

Re:This is a good idea. (1)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869541)

so, who wrote ls? or cd? or less?

very bad idea, if serious.

Re:This is a good idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869668)

And every tenth time you run the program, you get a popup asking you if you'd like to register for a free account at the software developer's main website. Err, sounds kinda like that other operating system I've heard of...

Moot point (0, Troll)

Blaine Hilton (626259) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869434)

This seems like a good idea on the surface, but in reality I'm not sure if it would work. With open source software you can't really go to any specific entity and demand that they provide bios on every developer. Some developers don't even want to be connected with a project, let alone having detailed biography of them. They probably already are receiving thousands (if not millions) of emails/mail/calls asking for support related questions to the point of harassment.

However if the developer would like credit then they could release the software under a modified license that would require the display of their bios. Already a lot of the open source projects have some information on different contributors on the project's website. I would think maybe creating something like this in the Help-->About, or man pages type area may be a good compromise.

As for the BSD license change, I think that's like comparing apples to oranges [] , because it seems like they did that more for the university and not for any actual developers.

Need to create a mySQL Table [] ?

Well, he did name a file system after himself. (1)

ChimChim (54048) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869438)

It's no wonder this came from a guy who named a file system after himself. I wonder if he'd namecd his apartm^H^H^H^H^H^H estate after himself.

Not sure I agree with his thinking (4, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869442)

Hans talks about how 99% of people, as it stands, don't see the names of the folks responsible for the software they turned out. I'd counter that 99% of the people certainly could care less, that 99% of people leave movies before the credits are even halfway through and habitually tune them out to begin with.

IMO, the people who are going to care are already seeing the names, either in the source or at the project websites or in CVS. To everyone else, any sort of more obtrusive crediting is just going to be obnoxious, and they're still not going to know any more names then they did before.

The whole point, if anyone still remembers the original goal of the majority of OSS projects, is to write some kick-ass code that's going to be done the Right Way, rather than the short-cutty kludgy way that most programmers are forced to code at work. To me, this includes making the software as elegant and streamlined as possible, and the various methods of ego gratification I can think of (extra splash screens, etc) seem incompatible with this.

Reiserfs (-1, Offtopic)

msh104 (620136) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869447)

I think reiserfs is great.. realy, i'am using nothing else... it saves so much time on diskchecking after a crash. and it does the entire journal thingy MUCH better than ext3

This sucks. (5, Interesting)

I Am The Owl (531076) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869455)

Like someone else mentioned above, this is not free software. If you write software that throws a bunch of credits in people's face all the time (the screensaver idea is an awful one), distros will be inclined not to use your software by default if the license forces the issue. Imagine if business contributes to a free software project and then insists that the business be "given credit" by putting their name all over the place. But then I see ReiserFS doing just that: last time I formatted a ReiserFS partition, I got a list of all the companies that contributed money to the project. Don't get me wrong, ReiserFS is great, but I don't care to see a bunch of ads in my software. Imagine if every time you ran ls you got some companies name listed along with your directory listing.

Free software is not about egos, it is about keeping software free. Forcing something like this through licensing makes the software non-free. Want the credits? Look at the source code or the documentation!!!

Re:This sucks. (1)

jalet (36114) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869499)

> Imagine if every time you ran ls you got some
> companies name listed along with your directory
> listing.

I'd suggest you to patent this very good idea before someone else does ! (no kidding)

Re:This sucks. (1)

fedaykin42 (588488) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869600)

Free software is not about egos, it is about keeping software free. Forcing something like this through licensing makes the software non-free.

So, you get the software free (as in beer) and you believe that if someone displays their name telling you they wrote it, that makes it non-free (again, as in beer)? The notion of free software (pay attention, this is the "as in speech" part) is that the person who writes the code shares the code for all to use, not so you don't have to pay money for it. If released under the GPL, the code must maintain credit to the original author. The only new part here is that the credit has visibility beyond those who care to look at the code.

Re:This sucks. (1)

lspd (566786) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869608)

Imagine if every time you ran ls you got some companies name listed along with your directory listing.

More importantly, imagine if Reiser's view of the GPL was the norm. You write a good piece of software, someone else extends it a bit and slaps adds all over the place. You're now locked out from using their improvements unless you add in all their advertising.

This is the same nonsence that PHP-Nuke argues. And in both cases, ReiserFS and PHP-Nuke, they complain about their advertising being removed because they're trying to sell commercal versions of their software.

Re:This sucks. (1)

mickwd (196449) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869716)

"Imagine if every time you ran ls you got some companies name listed along with your directory listing."
Maybe they should list those names in the man pages - no-one would ever think of looking there ;-)

Is this really a new issue? (1)

sczimme (603413) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869460)

From the article:

Have you ever worked a day job to fund other coders? Pure hell, let me tell you, especially if you are also so essential that time off becomes unacceptable.

Have you ever worked in a place where your work was carrying/funding dead weight on a project team? Will all due respect to Mr. Reiser, this is no different, and will probably always be an issue until everyone contributes equally to everything. Even then, what are the odds that eveyone will be credited equally?

Similarly, the project manager isn't doing his job if one person is "so essential that time off becomes unacceptable". Yes, it happens all the time; for crunch periods it may be a necessary evil, but only if the crunch is the result of uncontrollable external factors. Bad project mgmt != uncontrollable external factor.

I sure don't like those lame distros (0, Troll)

exa (27197) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869469)

That replace the KDE logos. A bunch of lamers trying to pretend as if it's their shit. It's not.

Fuckings to them.

Yes, but (2, Insightful)

I Am The Owl (531076) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869470)

legislating developers' name on a screensaver leaves a bad taste in the mouth, honestly. If I had written any significant F/OSS, I would not feel nearly as good about knowing that the license was forcing my name to be displayed on the screen. I would feel nice if someone voluntarily put it up, sure.

Marketers would not want to "un-necessarily'" give credit. Agreed. Not every company selling (services for) open-source code might be doing it for this reason, though.

I can think of two more reasons: (a) they genuinely think that they are reducing information confusing to the (target) user; that their graphic is good; (b) they did not realize that the developers are feeling they are not getting enough credit.

There is merit in the idea that credit to people who write FOSS could be more prominent. There is also a gentler way to do this, IMHO. Like, "Hey Debian dudes! Good work on that release. BTW, my wishlist for the next one is a screensaver that would display names of authors who wrote the packages I installed. Here's a graphic for the background, and here's how I think one could go about it...".

If enough people support this idea and implement it, then the need to enforce it will not be needed. If some notable exception exists, one could consider license as a way to enforce it.

Re:Yes, but (2, Insightful)

tychoS (200282) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869513)

For a widely used program, the authors showcased would risc. receiving a lot of email from end users thanking them, asking for help or screaming at them. Due to google and friends, including the authors email in the credits is not neccesary in order for the end users to easily reach him/her.

Of course feedback from end users is nice for the programmer and leads to improved software if the programmer is inclided to listen to the users, however receiving several thousand emails a day from end users of a widely used piece of software would be anyones nightmare.

Credit (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869471)

Post continued below following legal credits...

This post copyright 2003 by

All rights reserved.

Typing done by anonymous coward

Browser made by contributers to the mozilla project: (see bottom of this message for a full list)

OS made by contributers to the Linux kernel and GNU software, part of the GNU/Linux operating system.

OS development assisted by Redhat Corporation

Browser contributers:

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now what was I going to say again?

Re:Credit (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869586)

>now what was I going to say again?

"First post", I think... ;-)

Re:Credit (1)

arvindn (542080) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869724)

Brilliant, brilliant! Mod that up. It's also a nice way of responding to people who insist you say "Gnu/Linux".

Have to draw a line somewhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869479)

Imagine if every page served by Apache were accompanied by a page of credits? Eeek!

Oh please (5, Insightful)

Fefe (6964) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869480)

Reiser has already lost countless users for his software because he started polluting the kernel messages with "a message from his sponsors".

He should be more concerned with the quality of his software, not with his ego problems. Personally, I find this disgusting. If someone wants to know who wrote the software, he can read the README or ask google.

I don't even have the slightest reference in my free software source code that point back to me, I don't even use huge copyright comments in my software like the GNU project generally does, and yet people have offered me jobs and asked me about my software many times. In general, the people who want to know who wrote the software, do.

Those who try to rub it in their face all the time will cheapen free software for everyone. It's like the "I'm so important!1!!" freeware movement from MS-DOS, and I barely remember a single author from all the software that rubbed their copyright messages it in my face all the time. In contrast, I even learned to know several free software authors personally!

Hans, people are losing data with your file system. I know because I did. Twice. Then I looked at your fsck code and it stunk to the high heavens. You should be concerned with that, not with putting your name in the face of more people.
And what would be the next step? To insert a few seconds delay so people have a chance to see your messages better? Puleeze!

Re:Oh please (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869597)

Yeah, I mean nobody will ever know who wrote ReiserFS - it sounds like this guy has a bit of a chip on his shoulder and ego problem going on. I think the whole "mandatory credit" thing was tried with the original BSD license, and it just becomes an onerous task because of the large number of contributers, copyright holders, and so on.

I am all for giving credit where it is due, and I think commercial Linux distros should make a serious effort to thank those who've made their products possible, and contribute back to the community. Of course ego fulfillment is one of the major motivators for working on Free Software projects - but it's not the only one, and making the Free Software so onerous to use that it becomes onerous to use is not the right way forward. The motivation to work on something that other people will build on top of and make into something better as a whole than one person could do themselves is a big part of the appeal of Free Software. Let's not pollute important projects with licenses demanding all sorts of overblown ego fulfillment and stroking. A brief copyright note in the kernel message, or a Help->About dialog in a GUI app is plenty of acknowledgement for the majority of Free Software authors.

Re:Oh please (1)

DarkVein (5418) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869627)

As another commenter wrote "This can be tastefully done easily" as Hans has never done. My first exposure to Reiser was the kernel module info page, which, paraphrased and summarized said "if you want features, pay us money and we'll put them in". I had never seen an advertisement in GPL software before, and thank god I haven't seen one since. That stunk of unprofessional, badly designed code. The evidence is in the word-of-mouth reviews: ReiserFS has become incompatible with itself several times even after it was accepted into Linux (WHY?), people lose data, the tools constantly change: sometimes safe flags become dangerous flags between point releases.

If there's a point to be made, Reiser is not the one to make it.

Re:Oh please (1)

anoopiyer (153786) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869629)

Hans, people are losing data with your file system. I know because I did. Twice.

I did too. I had to reinstall everything and during the reinstall, decided to go with ext2. Disabled my HDD's write cache for good measure.

That would explain it... (3, Informative)

Steffen (84872) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869483)

Here, go read:

a fairly unpleasant thread [] started by Mr. Reiser himself.

He has a point, but surely it doesn't hurt to be slightly less aggressive on these matters. Unless he enjoys being credited as an asshole...

Re:That would explain it... (1)

Schubert (5172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869591)

*shrug* It worked for Theo.

Re:That would explain it... (3, Informative)

shallot (172865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869713)

Actually, that's the fragment of the thread from the (entirely offtopic) debian-testing mailing list. Here's the full thread on the debian-devel mailing list [] .

Good idea, but... (2, Interesting)

ectospasm (5186) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869495)

I don't think it's enforcible. If you make giving credits a requirement to use such-and-such a license, a developer will just create a new license without that restriction.

And, you'd have balkanization on how it should be implemented. Boot messages? Splash screens? If users get annoyed with these, they'd want to turn them off, and someone would find a way to do so. If a user wants to know who wrote a piece of free software, many times this is not difficult to obtain.

I guess I just see it as being unenforcible and unnecessary.

well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869751)

Just grab the source and remove the credits and recompile. Sheesh! Is this rocket science or what?

I don't write "Creditware" (1)

danielgast (445926) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869498)

I haven't written very much code that I've opened to friends / others to distribute, but the bit that I have hasn't even had my name in the source code. I don't write "Creditware" and when I think of people who's projects are driven by their egos rather than a desire to just get a job done I think of software packages that are generally full of flashy features with questionable reliability and are the most aggressively defended when people want to add a feature that doesn't align closely with the author's original intent (which makes sense because the more the author's name is attached to it the more you're affecting his/her identity with your feature).

This said, I'm certainly not against respecting authors identities and their wishes WRT maintaining any branding they choose for their product, but if someone's version of a program is going to pop up a page of text enumerating their life story, possibly obscuring some warning message I really should be reading, I'm going to look very hard for alternatives.


"Linux software" ??? (5, Insightful)

semanticgap (468158) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869500)

From the article: I propose that we as a community insist that all distros make the default screensaver be one that randomly displays a different detailed credit for one of the authors of Linux software every 60 seconds.

Erm.. Is Python or Perl or Apache or Emacs - "Linux software"? What about FreeBSD or OpenBSD - that's hardly "Linux software"...

I'm surprised to see someone as knowledgeable as Riser make such a blunder - or is it intentional?

I can see it now.... (1)

RdsArts (667685) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869535)

"This edition of KDE is brought to you in part by Tide(TM). Tide(TM), it's the Tidest. And also by the financial support of coders like you."

Re:I can see it now.... (1)

user no. 590291 (590291) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869753)

But it's not a commercial. Because NPR and PBS are commercial-free, by definition.

Adobe (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869544)

Open up Adobe Photoshop. You will se a list of names on the splash screen, I assume they are all contributing producers, engineers, and coders. Am I right? It is also in the about screen of most porgrams, give credit where credit is due.

Clearly Hans has gone senile... (1)

The Fanta Menace (607612) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869550)

Screensavers with credits? Splashscreens with credits?

No-one wants this shit. If Hans wants to put it it reiserfs, let him feel free to, but I'll compile it all out, or switch to XFS.

Bah! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869551)

Hans Reiser is ego propelled - not free software.

[Slightly OT] ReiserFS question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869554)

Does the ReiserFS in Linux 2.6 supports files as directories? And does it support really small files efficiently (i.e, you could convert an XML file into a directory tree and it would not be any less efficient)?

A little confused.... (1)

wiresquire (457486) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869558)

a) If it's an OSS project, then if they're using a source control system, can't you see who wrote it? Or maybe there would be mailing list where someone could ask who wrote this cool code?

b) I just have this horrible vision of millions of lines of credits buzzing past the screen as Linux boots...

Give them credit, sure. Congrats to all the authors of the software on my box. But perhaps we are confusing who will see it, and whether they care. Having credits != giving credit.

a) above is for those that really want to give credit. b) is merely gratuitous self praise.
(Yes I did read the linked discussion)

For Gods sake, just get off the screen! (2, Interesting)

pabtro (609586) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869562)

From the article:

"I propose that we as a community insist that all distros make the default screensaver be one that randomly displays a different detailed credit for one of the authors of Linux software every 60 seconds."

This will certainly be the doom for open source software, specially Linux. Would you, or any company use software that displayed beards and glasses every minute? Let me answer that for you: -For God's sake, I'll pay for It! just get off the screen!

I write code, that's it. (2, Interesting)

taxtropel (637994) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869567)

I don't need people to see me in some splashs screen. In fact I presonaly hate splas screens, and remove them from every opensource project I use. It would be nice to see an "about" dialog w/ credit to thoes who helped, but to make something like that mandatory is rather asburd, and pointless. An example situation is found above; The developers will just make a new liscens w/o the "credit clause". Mr. Reiser isn't the first to suggest this, but his FS is used by many (not me tho, I don't like it)

Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869572)

``Money is unimportant only to those who don't work to create it."

Right on, Mr. Reiser.

No one cares (2, Insightful)

I_redwolf (51890) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869574)

The users of the software probably won't care and most authors who write software really don't do it for fame or they could just plaster their names all over the software (which I rarely see). Perhaps there is something else motivating people to write software.. for instance.. If I sit down and write a zeroconf enabled server daemon for whatever it's probably because I need it or want to use it. Not for fame, because honestly, I could care less who used the shit so long as it worked for me. The blood, sweat and tears pays off in being able to have zeroconf enabled whatever. If other people can benefit then thats great, if they can help make it better thats another plus and if it helps someone else solve a problem in shorter time or makes their life easier then that's gold right there. Usually you get dumps of email from people thanking you for something you just wanted yourself.. It's great.. You get bored? Feel like moving on?? People who were helping with code tend to take up the slack and so the cycle continues.

If people want to know who wrote the software they'll just look it up. I mean in GUI software there is an "About" dialog that exists solely for info such as stuff in cli utils at the start of the program you can put name of author and email address as most other people do. Or through it into a --help argc or something.

Also the idea of having someones name plastered all over your personal computer doesn't make it feel that personal anymore. A user will just begin to tune the shit out, and if you write shit like BIND or BitchX etc you catch enough flack.

Let me get this straight.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869578)

The idea is to 'advertise' Linux software?

Great! So long as on FreeBSD I don't have to see "This GNU/Linux software brought to you by." I'll be happy.

If I wanted an 'advertising clause', I'd still look to the 4 clause BSD licence.

I don't need credit (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869584)

Only the insecure and hardup feel the need to take credit. Look, I'm gifting the world with this post, and by remaining anonymous, I'm not even taking credit for it.

Control or free software. (3, Insightful)

YoungHack (36385) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869598)

I don't remember who said it on the Debian mailing list, but the sentiment was right:

You can either have control, or you can write free software.


important for tips . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869614)

If the "gift economy" is to take off, you need credit--and it needs to be trustable. Think about it, crazy faith healers make tons of money from donations--why shouldn't free software developers? I'd rather it be slathered with begging for donations (not registration) than for advertisements.

No! (2, Informative)

arvindn (542080) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869624)

RMS has a detailed analysis [] of why the BSD advertising clause was a very bad idea in practice.

Speaking for myself, I certainly wouldn't want to slap such a clause to anything I wrote. First, I think the egoboo factor is totally overstated. For instance, I wrote a small vocab building app called gretools [] . I wrote it to scratch a personal itch: to help me with my gre preparation. Ego satisfaction had nothing to do with it. I released it only as an afterthought. Second, what's the point of having J. Random user being being forced to see your name? If you want to build a reputation as a programmer, you would want to build up that reputation with other programmers, which is what you get currenty because your name is in the source. In suspect, most users could consider it as unwanted ads/annoyance. We're trying to get people to use OSS by removing annoyances (like popup blocking), introducing our own forms of annoyance is self defeating. Third, Reiser specifically wants political statements irremovable and visible to users. This is bad. Being free means creating software without trying to impose your idealogy on others. There are practical problems too. You are unnecessarily limiting your user base. If, for instance, your political message included praise for the Falun Gong, it could well lead to any distro that includes your package being banned in the PRC, because you made your statement irremovable. I wonder how many programmers would choose to adopt such a license. Fourth, OSS companies are trying hard to stay afloat and make some money. The better these companies survive, the better your chances of becoming/staying gainfully employed coding Free software. Give them a chance. Don't view them as capitalist evil and impede them from establishing a brand.

That's just my opinion. You are free to pick your license.

Credit is Fine (1)

oaf357 (661305) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869637)

Just don't slatther up code with it. Put a credits page up on your web site and be done with it.

I am so sick... (4, Insightful)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869638)

I'm so sick of people trying to cram ads down my throat just because they feel they can get away with it.

Whether it's pop-up ads, spam, TV inset-credit ads, junk mail, telemarketing, ATM fees, TV channel logos, billboards, etc. The long and annoying list goes on and on and keeps growing.

More and more, I'm getting pissed off about the multitude of intrusions on my time and attention. If I cared about whether brand A was better than brand B, i'd look into it myself, otherwise it's just an annoyance to be so informed.

If anyone is particularly interested, or if the software is remarkable in some way, i.e. small, useful, or innovative, then people will find out who's responsible for authoring that piece of work if they care.

But if they don't, then they don't want to endure YET ANOTHER GOD-DAMNED AD.

If the software authors want credit for their work, that's fine, I don't begrudge them that. I'm a software author myself. In fact, I co-wrote one of the most popular ray-tracing programs out there, and my name is on the list of contributors.

The actual software never had my name in it, just in the docs, but people knew me, and had no problem finding out who I was and how to get a hold of me for questions and advice.

I still can list the software on my resume, if I feel that it's relevant to the position I'm seeking. When I do, most people recognise or have heard of it. The fame is still there waiting, bottled up until needed :)

Anyhow, without being overbearingly egotistical, I managed to get and enjoy my 15 minutes of fame without pissing anyone off and without cramming my name down everyone's throat.

Not the first time.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869647) 8&mode=thread

i have 2 words to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869666)

fucking. egomaniac.

Reiser (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869667)

Yes, today I associate the name Reiser with the Reiser filesystem. But, first I thought of a French cartoonist Jean Marc Reiser (see a tribute page [] [no, I'm not French]). If you haven't seen his cartoons before, go check them out. Beware, it is dirty underware humor, literally, and any connection with file systems seem farflung indeed.

An alternate proposal? (1)

Drathus (152223) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869700)

Why not just have someone register and maintain and then request that distro maintainers and FS/OSS browsers ship with it as the default webpage. That way people will know of it, and they can still change the default page if they want?

Or is this too logical? =P

my POV (3, Informative)

FooMasterZero (515781) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869710)

I personally think this is silly really, and I have one piece of OSS under my belt. I do use a splash screen however it is easily turned off and all it does is show the product name, no different than Mozilla's splash screen. Credits about me or any other contributers are contained in the respectable 'About" screen of my application.

Personally I feel credit is given to me in various ways.

  1. Downloads counts stay fairly consistent and gradually seem to be rising.
  2. Occasional email saying that they like it or even better sometimes coupled witha request for new feature or bug.
  3. Simply doing a google of my project shows sites all over the place.
I figure people who give me credit on their own free will, by performing their own reviews and such good or bad, that certainly helps me to make better software and that is all i really want to do anyhow. It is diifcult enough to write something unique and useful these days and on top of that stand out in the mix of commerical apps. So people who have contributed to the linux kernal have obivous unspoken credit that they know companies like RedHat are using thier work, likewise with mozilla developers one being funded by AOL to some extent as wellas being used in AOL's software, to me that is credit and prestige that is pretty rare for most of the OSS projects out there.

One day I hope to see my stuff being reused elsewhere, and as long as they just say it somewhere that i helped out, I couldn't ask for more.

Should licenses protect credits? (2, Insightful)

volkerdi (9854) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869718)

Hans has done an enormous amount of really high-quality work and deserves fair compensation and recognition for it. He's got every right to have his code display all the credits that he sees fit.

On the other hand, the moment you say that these credits cannot be removed (or suppressed from being displayed by default) then you no longer have a fully free license. That's what the problem was with the old BSD license with the advertising clause (that used to make BSD code incompatible with the GPL until that was removed), and that's the same problem with invarient sections in the GNU Free Documentation License that caused such a stink recently. The GPL doesn't allow any additional restrictions either, and since Hans' code is available under the GPL, the best he can do is ask that people are respectful of the credits. There's no legal recourse if they aren't (other than maybe to get mad, and quit GPL'ing future versions). This leads to the question -- maybe there should be a new free software license that attempts to protect author credits while remaining otherwise free?

That said, I'd have to say that anyone who would remove credits from free software simply because the license doesn't (or can't) prohibit it is being a rude parasite. A good member of the community has more respect for the contributions of others.

from what I've seen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5869772)

The guy (Hans) loves himself a little too much. I remeber reading some posts he's written about his FS and issuses w/ Redhat. Every time I read his posts, it just seems to come across as saying "Love Me!". Him writing this article doesn't suprise me. Don't be fooled, the article is about him, not software writers in general, I believe.

Adobe Photoshop (2, Interesting)

exhilaration (587191) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869777)

Nobody's brought up the Photoshop splash screen - which lists quite a number of the developers, but in a very tasteful manner. I remember it because the first time I saw it, I thought to myself, "Cool, a lot of Indians were involved in this."

I think a good way to credit a large number of developers, is to make a splash screen with the bottom quarter scrolling the names of authors/contributors. The user would simply have to click to proceed. That's unobtrusive and might even generate some interest in the user - who might one day stop and read the whole list.

Or perhaps instead of requiring a click, have the splash screen time out after a few seconds, but put a button on it labeled "click here for the credits!" - again unobtrusive.

But that still doesn't take care of stuff that doesn't have a GUI - like ReiserFS.

Tough issue (1)

dh003i (203189) | more than 11 years ago | (#5869800)

Look, people should get credit for their work. That's really a pretty simple basic moral. I don't agree with Reiser's method of achieving such (the advertisements displayed whenever using his utils), but we need to properly attribute credit.

I'm also not sure I agree with the FSF' new documentation license that's coming out, having "invariable sections".

It's very simple. What RedHat's doing is plaguarism. They have replaced the KDE symbol with one of their own; this implied to end-users that RedHat made it. They are effectively taking credit for someone else' work. This is wrong.

We as a community should shun those who try to take credit for that which is not their own. I believe that Debian's current issue is that they think that the new GPL documentation license is not free, and I think they have a good argument. However, that does not make it ok to plaguarize other people's work. We should refuse to buy software by distributers like RedHat who plaguarize other people's work. Period. This is as immoral as me posting something written by Dickens and claiming it's mine. So, we should put pressure on RedHat to make more effort to attribute others for their work. We should also make a stronger effort to do that ourselves, and thank others for their contributions. And there are ways to do such that don't involve obnoxious messages (e.g., About).
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