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BitKeeper Love Triangle: McVoy, Linus and Tridge

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the can't-we-all-get-along dept.

Linux 850

erktrek writes "NewsForge has given a brief interview to the parties involved in the (inevitable?) BitKeeper debacle." Here is some of our previous coverage.

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hmm... (2, Interesting)

ph4s3 (634087) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201763)

I wouldn't excatly call it love.

Re:hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12201798)

me either...

I'd call it a Linux sammich!

Re:hmm... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12201963)

Information wants to be free.

Just like convicted child-molesters want to be free.

Uh, a summary? (3, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201768)

Any chance we could get a 1-2 line summary of what the "debacle" is exactly? The summary above is practically just a link... it doesnt' really help anyone understand w/o a reading of several materials.

Quick Summary (4, Informative)

WD_40 (156877) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201781)

"Linux leader Linus Torvalds has begun looking for a new electronic home for his project's source code after a conflict involving the current management system, BitKeeper"

Linky [com.com]

The article in summay (-1, Redundant)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201784)

BitKeeper, the proprietary source management tool used by Linus Torvalds and other Linux kernel hackers to apply patches to their versions of the kernel, is once again at the center of controversy. This time it looks as if the relationship between BitKeeper and the poster-child project for free software is going to come to an end as the result of irreconcilable differences. We spoke with the three primary figures involved in the dispute -- Larry McVoy, Linus Torvalds, and Andrew "Tridge" Tridgell -- to learn what happened and whether it could have been avoided. Click Here We asked Larry McVoy, BitKeeper's primary author, to tell us what happened to cause him to end the relationship by giving Torvalds and the Linux kernel developers using BitKeeper three months to move to another tool for their source code management. He explained: Back on February 23 I learned from Linus that Tridge was reverse-engineering BK so that he could pull stuff out of BK trees without agreeing to the BK license. As you might expect, we were less than thrilled and began having talks with Linus, Tridge, and Stuart Cohen, the CEO of OSDL. These talks didn't go anywhere. Tridge believes strongly enough in free software that he thinks anyone using non-free software is living in sin. Linus worked very hard to get Tridge to stop. He and I spent a significant amount of time on this issue and Linus understands my position very well He summarized it nicely: Larry is perfectly fine with somebody writing a free replacement. He's told me so, and I believe him, because I actually do believe that he has a strong moral back-bone. What Larry is _not_ fine with, is somebody writing a free replacement by just reverse-engineering what _he_ did. Larry has a very clear moral standpoint: "You can compete with me, but you can't do so by riding on my coat-tails. Solve the problems on your own, and compete _honestly_. Don't compete by looking at my solution." And that is what the BK license boils down to. It says: "Get off my coat-tails, you free-loader". And I can't really argue against that. This position seemed to be lost on Tridge. Concurrently we were working with OSDL's management. In this area I pulled in calmer heads than mine and our VP of sales got involved. He negotiates all of our enterprise level agreements, (his strength is finding common ground) so you can imagine he's a pretty reasonable guy. He was unsuccessful in getting anywhere with OSDL's CEO. Stuart's position was that this was not their problem and this is the sort of activity you expect in the open source world. We did get a verbal promise from OSDL that Tridge had discontinued his work and would not begin again as long as we were trying to work things out. We believed we had an uneasy truce, but it ends up Tridge was still working. We ended up in a no-win situation. OSDL didn't appear to care and we couldn't trust what we were being told. With that we were fairly confident that Tridge was going to release his code. That was a problem for us for two reasons: a) Corruption. BK is a complicated system, there are >10,000 replicas of the BK database holding Linux floating around. If a problem starts moving through those there is no way to fix them all by hand. This happened once before, a user tweaked the ChangeSet file, and it costs $35,000 plus a custom release to fix it. If Tridge's tool is out there we are now supporting our code and his code. We couldn't do that. b) IP loss. If we sat back and did nothing about Tridge then we are implicitly condoning reverse engineering. Internally, we were looking at ways to best handle this. One option was to have two versions of BK, one that we gave away and another that was commercial only. This had been our course for some time and it wasn't working out. The difficulty with that solution is we couldn't just stop all work on the free version because of future compatibility issues. Trying to maintain compatibility between a free product and commercial version was grinding our development to a halt. Everyone was losing. In order for this to work we had to continuing throwing resources at the problem. We're already up to about $500K/year for the free version and continuing to ratchet that up wouldn't be prudent. At that point we started looking at what it would be like to discontinue the free BK. Linus strongly encouraged us to do this once he came to the conclusion that the costs of the free version to BitMover outweighed the benefits to BitMover. OSDL's management was kept informed of what we were thinking and again they seemed rather apathetic about it. Their position was that it was BitMover's problem and we needed to figure out how to fix it. That is until we set the wheels in motion to discontinue the free product. They did make motions very recently that we should work together on this, but it was too little too late. We finalized our discussions with Linus last weekend and he began the process of migrating off of BK. Linus is a very ethical guy. His feeling was that we were getting a bad deal and he didn't want to be part of that. So off he went. We spent the next couple of days scrambling to figure out how we were going to handle this, announcements, migrations, programs moving forward, etc. We're still working on the details moving forward with some of these issues, but our hope is to make this as smooth as could be expected for this sort of transition. Torvalds' take on the situation After reading McVoy's response (he cc:ed Torvalds on the email he sent to us so that he would not misquote or take out of context anything he quoted from their correspondence), we asked Torvalds three questions. NewsForge: What will you use to replace BitKeeper? Torvalds: I don't even know yet. I'm playing around with my own scripts and tools right now, and talking to various open-source source code management (SCM) people. In fact, I'm trying to get as many people as are interested in the problem to just explore the options. NewsForge: How will this impact your workload short or long term? Torvalds: Short-term we'll merge patches. Right now the -mm tree should work like usual, so people can go on developing. On the other hand, especially people that used BK will just slow down, take a breather, and look around at the alternatives. And some people will just continue to use BK. It didn't go away, and it's still the best SCM out there, it just got harder to merge with me (and some of the people I work with). So you export BK changes by patches instead, but some people largely worked like that _anyway_ before (i.e. they used BK for its merge capabilities). So we'll definitely have a slowdown in the short run, but it's not likely to be a huge deal. The biggest worry is developer frustration about the uncertainty, so I'm certainly trying to get to a decision, but on the other hand I don't want to hurry it _too_ much either. (Ironically, many users and distributions are likely to actually not mind slightly slower development for a while. One of the most common worries for users is just the fact that 2.6.x has continued to be developed at a very high rate thanks to just how smoothly it's been working, so I bet some people are both upset and gratified by this all. ;) In the long run, we'll just have to see. I think in the _medium_ run the problem is going to be just having to live with less capable tools, and having to possibly teach old developers (me included) new tricks. And I don't mean the various syntactic differences between different SCMs, I mean new ways of working and adapting to new constraints (and likely new freedoms too -- BK had its own set of constraints simply due to the model of development that _it_ imposed -- every SCM tool to some degree has a "world view," and it takes time to get comfortable with that world view... NewsForge: Was this split inevitable, or could it have been avoided? Torvalds: I think everybody saw the split as inevitable _eventually_. I don't think anybody believes that the open-source SCMs wouldn't grow up, and when they would, there would have been obvious reasons to switch over eventually. But I think it could have been a lot less painful if it happened a year or two down the road, and that's my only real regret. That said, we did get three very productive years out of it, and we not only learnt how SCMs can work, we also taught a lot of people what to expect of a _good_ SCM, so anybody who claims that it was a waste of time to go with BK obviously doesn't have his head screwed on right. BK did good. Tridge offers his side There is no doubt Tridge is being cast as the villain in this piece. Here's what he had to tell us when we asked him for his side of the tale: I expect that in the future I will be able to give a more detailed response, but for now I can only tell you the following: - In late February I wrote a tool that is interoperable with BitKeeper. The aim was to provide export to other source code management tools and provide a useful tool to the community. - I did not use BitKeeper at all in writing this tool and thus was never subject to the BitKeeper license. I developed the tool in a completely ethical and legal manner. At the end In spite of the end of the relationship, McVoy and Torvalds seem to have lost no respect for each other's integrity or professionalism. Torvalds still admires BitKeeper, and still feels it to be the best tool for the job. Whether this outcome was inevitable or not, it's a little bit sad to see this marriage of proprietary and free software come to an unhappy end. Not to mention a little unsettling, due to the uncertain handling of patches in the future.

Re:The article in summay (4, Funny)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201888)

Thanks for stripping out the formatting. I despise paragraph breaks, and now, I don't have to read them!

Re:The article in summay (1)

Joey Patterson (547891) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201918)

I can summarize all that in one word:

Eeew. Please format your text.

IANAL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12201832)

AND APPARENTLY, LINUS, MCVOY, AND TRIDGE ANAL TOO. A THREE-WAY ANAL FUCKFEST!! YAY LINUX!!!

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/LINUX_\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)_INSIDE|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\_(TM)_/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_


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Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Re:Uh, a summary? (2, Informative)

DrXym (126579) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201889)

The Linux kernel, a leading open source project is using a closed source, source control system. Why? Because it happens to be most suited to the way Linus likes to work. Sadly, the terms for said source control system have become increasingly odious over time and hosting of open source projects has become uncertain so that even Linus wants to jump ship.

Re:Uh, a summary? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12202109)

Sadly, the terms for said source control system have become increasingly odious over time

No, the terms have stayed largely the same and Linus is happy to abide them.

What's changed is the gradual escalation of a select few's willingness to kick a gift-horse in the testicles and steal its teeth.

BitKeeper sees two problems (4, Informative)

dstone (191334) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202052)

Any chance we could get a 1-2 line summary of what the "debacle" is exactly?

Larry McVoy sees two problems with Andrew Tridgell's reverse-engineered, free tool. One is "condoning reverse engineering". The other is, in his words:
Corruption. BK is a complicated system, there are >10,000 replicas of the BK database holding Linux floating around. If a problem starts moving through those there is no way to fix them all by hand. This happened once before, a user tweaked the ChangeSet file, and it costs $35,000 plus a custom release to fix it.


If Tridge's tool is out there we are now supporting our code and his code. We couldn't do that.

2 line summary (1, Informative)

vkapadia (35809) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202130)

Andrew "Tridge" Tridgell supposedly reverse-engineered Bitkeeper to get things out of BK tree's "without agreeing to the BK license", as he is a free-software purist.

McVoy is a businessman who doesn't want people to reverse-engineer Bitkeeper, but wouldn't mind if someone wrote a free replacement that wasn't reverse-engineered because he doesn't believe people should freeload off of his work.

You git! (4, Funny)

AirLace (86148) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201778)

Does the name 'git' strike anyone else as an odd name [kerneltrap.org] for a (kind-of) SCM system?

Or is this Linus making a not-so-subtle pot-shot at Larry McVoy?

Re:You git! (2, Informative)

Gomet1 (873922) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201962)

This is from the git-0.03/README file:
GIT - the stupid content tracker

"git" can mean anything, depending on your mood.

- random three-letter combination that is pronounceable, and not
actually used by any common UNIX command. The fact that it is a
mispronounciation of "get" may or may not be relevant.
- stupid. contemptible and despicable. simple. Take your pick from the
dictionary of slang.
- "global information tracker": you're in a good mood, and it actually
works for you. Angels sing, and a light suddenly fills the room.
- "goddamn idiotic truckload of sh*t": when it breaks

This is a stupid (but extremely fast) directory content manager. It
doesn't do a whole lot, but what it _does_ do is track directory
contents efficiently.

Re:You git! (4, Informative)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201973)

Based on one one his posts (see here [kerneltrap.org] ) it might just as likely be aimed at Tridge (if it is aimed at anyone).

Quote Linus:

When we were trying to figure out how to avert the BK disaster, and one of
Tridges concerns (and, in my opinion, the only really valid one) was that
you couldn't get the BK data in some SCM-independent way.
So I wrote some very preliminary scripts [...snip...] Larry was ok with the idea to make my export format actually be natively
supported by BK (ie the same way you have "bk export -tpatch"), but Tridge
wanted to instead get at the native data and be difficult about it. As a
result, I can now not only use BK any more, but we also don't have a nice
export format from BK.
Yeah, I'm a bit bitter about it.


Seems clear who he is a bit bitter at.

Re:You git! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12202180)

There's nothing wrong with Tridge writing a program that can read Bitkeeper'd files any more than there is Open Office writing programs that can read Microsoft Word files. Interoperability is good. Linus is being silly if he's blaming Tridge for anything here.

Re:[OT] You git! (1)

Mick Ohrberg (744441) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202030)

Does the name 'git' strike anyone else as an odd name for a (kind-of) SCM system?

Oh you mean as in git'r done [larrythecableguy.com] ?

weak answer from Tridge (-1, Troll)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201780)

Tridge offers his side

There is no doubt Tridge is being cast as the villain in this piece. Here's what he had to tell us when we asked him for his side of the tale:

I expect that in the future I will be able to give a more detailed response, but for now I can only tell you the following:

- In late February I wrote a tool that is interoperable with BitKeeper. The aim was to provide export to other source code management tools and provide a useful tool to the community.

- I did not use BitKeeper at all in writing this tool and thus was never subject to the BitKeeper license. I developed the tool in a completely ethical and legal manner.



Boy, I hate to say it, but whenever somebody "defers" on defending themself, it sure looks like they have something to hide. Why wait until some undefined "later" point to explain one's self, if one has nothing to hide?

Re:weak answer from Tridge (5, Insightful)

dartboard (23261) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201820)

He's probably either:
a) getting sued and his lawyers have advised him not to release too many details
b) worried about getting sued and his lawyers have advised him not to release too many details

Re:weak answer from Tridge (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201929)

Why not say that if that's the facts?

Re:weak answer from Tridge (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202116)

Why get into what amounts to a denial of service attack, by offering bait to the chattering classes?
Ironically, you can bet disinterest in dealing with 'almost interoperable' protocols is among (though by no means the sole one of) Larry M's motives for pulling the plug on Linux. Neither Tridge nor Larry owe any of us the time of day.
After RTFA, I can respect Larry's stance, and only hope that FOSS can step up to the plate soon.

Re:weak answer from Tridge (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202166)

Or he finds the idea of getting involved in a "he said, she said" public mud flinging fest to be personally distasteful. It may be hard to believe here on Slashdot, but there really are people who feel that way.

He made the relevant points, that he did not use Bitkeeper at all in developing his tool and was never subject to the Bitkeeper license.

KFG

Re:weak answer from Tridge (4, Insightful)

qortra (591818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201825)

Why wait until some undefined "later" point to explain one's self, if one has nothing to hide?

for legal reasons

Re:weak answer from Tridge (5, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201862)

Boy, I hate to say it, but whenever somebody "defers" on defending themself, it sure looks like they have something to hide
Huh? The fact that he didn't use BitKeeper to do this and therefore there is no question of him being bound by its license is ample "defense" in itself, as if any "defense" should be needed for reverse engineering.

Please lets get this straight - there is nothing immoral about reverse engineering, particularly in the interests of interoperability as seems to be the case here.

Its sad to see people put celebrity before principal, if this were Microsoft making these arguments against Samba, rather than Linus' friend making them against this Tridge guy, there would be no question as to which side most slashdotters would come down on.

The principal doesn't change just because the people in question claim to be friends of free software.

Re:weak answer from Tridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12201943)

Huh? The fact that he didn't use BitKeeper to do this and therefore there is no question of him being bound by its license is ample "defense" in itself, as if any "defense" should be needed for reverse engineering.

But if he didn't use BitKeeper, how *did* he do it? By sending random data to BK's servers? Isn't that somewhere between DoS and haxoring, and just as bad?

this were Microsoft making these arguments against Samba

Samba isn't MS's core product. MS are probably secretly happy to have an open Samba implementation as long as they don't have to support it. BitKeeper is Larry's core product.

Re:weak answer from Tridge (1, Troll)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201961)

I'm going to disagree with you. It is immoral to reverse engineer while relying on the goodwill of the people you are reverse engineering. If you can't see that, I can't explain it any more clearly.

Re:weak answer from Tridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12201863)

He forgot to add:

"Canseco's book is absurd. The allegations are completely false."

Re:weak answer from Tridge (2, Interesting)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201945)

He was most likely asked or forced to sign some form of Non-disclosure agreement. This is even more likely if lawyers were or are involved (in which we'd have no way of knowing if all involved parties keep silent).
Regards,
Steve

Re:weak answer from Tridge (1)

lheal (86013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201995)

  • ...whenever somebody "defers" on defending themself, it sure looks like they have something to hide.

On the other hand, he's probably answering a lot of questions from a lot of corners, and doesn't want to spend much time defending himself. Also, to say anything more he would have to talk about the differences in the motivation and ethos of all the players, which is a can of worms. Better just to say what he said and leave it at that.

The key piece of information he did provide, though, is that he "did not use BitKeeper at all in writing this tool". If that means he didn't look at the binary, the the BitKeeper folks are just being petty.

If all he did was write a tool to manage the same data format that BitKeeper uses, then he's not doing anything wrong. If he had disassembled the BitKeeper binaries to figure out how they worked, I'd call that cheating, which is not the way to go about making software free.

Either way, it's a tempest in a teapot.

Re:weak answer from Tridge (4, Insightful)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202019)

Why wait until some undefined "later" point to explain one's self, if one has nothing to hide?

That's a good question. We should immediately execute anybody who insists on talking to a lawyer when arrested. After all, why wait until some undefined "later" point to explain one's self, if one has nothing to hide?

Re:weak answer from Tridge (3, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202063)

"Why wait until some undefined "later" point to explain one's self, if one has nothing to hide?"

INSIGHTFUL?! I've seen some amazing moderator goofs, but this one takes the cake!

No, this is not insightful, this is called trolling. It's akin to, "have you stopped beating your wife?"

However -- to answer his question -- if you have nothing to hide, you keep you lips sealed if:
  • Your employer doesn't want to fan the flames created by Slashdot, and tells you to zip it
  • You are concerned that legal action might be taken, and thus wish to reduce the number of statements made by you which could be taken out of context
  • You don't really care what the news media think about your work

I get the impression... (2, Insightful)

CarrionBird (589738) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202115)

That nobody involved, including Linus, believes that Tridge was actually doing this "clean room".

The BK guy claims that he would be ok with a OSS clone, so long as it was not reverse enginerred from BK. Who knows? We may never really know now.

Linus, who is in a position to know (and I consider trustworthy), doesn't seem convinced that Tridge wasn't just trying to torpedo BK from the get-go. (based on his statements here and in the eariler article)

Nice to annonuce dumping Bitkeeper, but.. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201785)

Nice to announce dumping bitkeeper, but usually you have a repacement in mind before you ditch something. (I understand the rationale, I just think the cart is a bit before the horse.)

Tridge? [midlandonline.com]

Re:Nice to annonuce dumping Bitkeeper, but.. (4, Informative)

endx7 (706884) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202025)

They didn't drop BitKeeper. BitMover dropped the free version BitKeeper and refused to license the paid version to any employees of OSDL.

Being Linus works for OSDL, that pretty much means BitKeeper has to go or Linux has to leave OSDL. It is the same case for Andrew Morton. I think Linux prefers to drop Bitkeeper.

My opinion hasn't changed (5, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201789)

The crux of the issue is that BitKeeper's CEO, Larry McVoy, has a big problem with reverse engineering, he considers it immoral. Personally I think that reverse engineering is entirely legitimate, people have been building on each-other's ideas since ever, and I am sure BitKeeper wasn't created in a vacuum either. You borrow from the collective commons of ideas, but in return you must give back too.

Reverse engineering is particularly warrented for the purposes of interoperability, and this seems to have been the motivation of Andrew "Tridge" Tridgell. He wasn't reverse engineering BitKeeper to "steal" McVoy's ideas, he was doing it so that he could gain access to the Linux kernel without using non-free tools. McVoy's position is one that you might expect from Microsoft on Samba, but not from someone that claims to support the ideals of free software.

Bottom line? I'm with Tridge on this one, McVoy is wrong, what he wants and seems to expect is effectively patent-level protection of his ideas.

Re:My opinion hasn't changed (3, Interesting)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201853)

Reverse engineering is perfectly legitimate, and excellent products have emerged because of it, such as Samba.

What is interesting is if other open-source projects will follow Linus' footsteps. KDE, I believe, still uses BK.

Re:My opinion hasn't changed (4, Informative)

dark_panda (177006) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202108)

KDE never used BK. That was an April Fool's joke. Apparently they are switching from CVS to Subversion, though.

J

Re:My opinion hasn't changed (4, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201872)

Furthermore, it seems that if Larry McVoy wanted patent-like protection on the ideas in BitKeeper, he should have just filed patents. At least we understand how patents work.

Re:My opinion hasn't changed (2, Interesting)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201901)

My opinion has changed, actually. I understand McVoy's position a little more. He wasn't even opposed to someone writing a free alternative, as stated by Linus. It was someone reverse-engineering BitKeeper's protocol that he had a problem with.

He wasn't reverse engineering BitKeeper to "steal" McVoy's ideas, he was doing it so that he could gain access to the Linux kernel without using non-free tools.


And thereby create a free version of BitKeeper that uses BitKeeper's protocol and does everything BitKeeper does on BitKeeper's trees, without actually being BitKeeper.

Why not just write a free alternative if Tridge is so concerned about non-free tools?

Here is what Linus himself said, quoted from the article. I can't help but agree with it:

Larry is perfectly fine with somebody writing a free replacement. He's told me so, and I believe him, because I actually do believe that he has a strong moral back-bone.


What Larry is _not_ fine with, is somebody writing a free replacement by just reverse-engineering what _he_ did.

Larry has a very clear moral standpoint: "You can compete with me, but you can't do so by riding on my coat-tails. Solve the problems on your own, and compete _honestly_. Don't compete by looking at my solution."

And that is what the BK license boils down to. It says: "Get off my coat-tails, you free-loader". And I can't really argue against that.

Re:My opinion hasn't changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12201966)

He wasn't reverse engineering BitKeeper to "steal" McVoy's ideas, he was doing it so that he could gain access to the Linux kernel without using non-free tools.

*cough* CVS gateway *cough* SVN gateway *cough* simple socket TAR client *cough*

Re:My opinion hasn't changed (1)

Sanity (1431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201979)

Why not just write a free alternative if Tridge is so concerned about non-free tools?
Because Linus was using BitKeeper, to work on the kernel without using non-free tools he had no choice but to reverse BitKeeper's protocol (or get Linus to change tools, which seems to be what is happening now anyway).

Re:My opinion hasn't changed (0, Troll)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202136)

But in this post [kerneltrap.org] , Linus says he was writing scripts to export data in an SCM-independent format. McVoy actually offered to support this directly in BitKeeper, but Tridge insisted on "being difficult about it" and gaining access directly to the binary data. Linus suggests he's bitter at Tridge for it, and now he can't use BitKeeper.

Re:My opinion hasn't changed (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202150)

Seems to me that there was some commentary that some kernel developers still submit things as patches rather than in any proprietary format. If that's true, it blows the shit out of this argument.

Re:My opinion hasn't changed (1, Insightful)

ElGuapoGolf (600734) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201904)


Tridge is wrong on this one...

If you're using the BitKeeper server, you should be agreeing to their terms of use. I think the author of bitkeeper was a bit miffed that he was completly bypassing the terms of usabe by writing his own client. You're very specifically using their client which is designed to work with their server.

In this case, they're 100% right. What happens if Tridge's client sucks? What happens if it corrupts older files? The Linux kernel, in case you hadn't heard, is a bit of a high profile project. If word gets out that that damn BitKeeper source control system has corrupted 6 months worth of work, that's bad publicity. And who would know if it was really the official client or Tridge's client?

Bottom line, Tridge's a bit of a dick for not playing nice. Let people protect their reputations, and don't screw with their abilities to feed their family.

What? (5, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201953)

If you're using the BitKeeper server, you should be agreeing to their terms of use.
So when you visit a website hosted on Microsoft IIS you must agree to its license?

Wow, I had better call my lawyer next time I decide to surf the web!

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12202021)

So when you visit a website hosted on Microsoft IIS you must agree to its license?

No, WWW is implicitly public. It's the way of the web.

When you connect to a private proprietry-protocol server using something other than the server owner's publically available client *then* you're in the wrong.

Re:What? (0)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202073)

So when you visit a website hosted on Microsoft IIS you must agree to its license?

No, but if you _host_ a site on Microsoft IIS, you must agree to the license...

Re:What? (4, Informative)

Sanity (1431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202154)

No, but if you _host_ a site on Microsoft IIS, you must agree to the license...
Yeah, and if you RTFA you will notice that Tridge didn't use BitKeeper:
I did not use BitKeeper at all in writing this tool and thus was never subject to the BitKeeper license. I developed the tool in a completely ethical and legal manner.

Re:What? (4, Informative)

nadamsieee (708934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202169)

Exactly. And Tridge was NOT hosting a BK site. What he did was perfectly ethical. Furthermore, reverse engineering is a vital part of our economy, and McVoy needs to stop making himself look foolish by vilifying it.

Re:What? (1)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202151)

Depends on the site. For some sites you better have the right security clearance let alone agree to a licence.

SAMBA team do lots of similar reverse engineering of protocols, often by firing data at servers, but I don't think they'd be doing it using Microsoft's actual servers.

Or look at it another way:

Firing random packets is a good test of a server - if it's your own server. On someone else's server it's a good attack.

Re:What? (2, Interesting)

doug (926) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202175)

No, you don't need to agree to IIS's license. But when you use someone else's site/servers, you do need to respect them. Perhaps even honor a license When someone puts something on the web just to be nice, we should be equally polite and decent about accepting it. Please remember that while Larry did do some of this to help Linus and Linux, and it helped him with marketting, it was still done pro bono.

I don't think that tridge did anything illegal here, but it was wrong. And if he tested using bitkeeper's servers, he might be guilty of unauthorized access.

And FWIW, I wish that there had been a better FOSS package for Linus to consider a few years ago and this whole issue could have avoided.

- doug

Server Should Enforce Immutability (4, Insightful)

Cosine Jeremiah (1871) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202060)

What happens if Tridge's client sucks?

Someone looks at the source and makes it better.

What happens if it corrupts older files?

That sounds like a problem that can only occur if the server doesn't enforce proper ACLs. Older files cannot be corrupted by "updates" or "checkouts" unless there's an architectural problem with the server.

A source control system should enforce immutability of older revisions. Only administrators should have any delete powers at all to clean up, and the idea of modification of committed revisions should be right out! I expect the server to enforce this.

If word gets out that that damn BitKeeper source control system has corrupted 6 months worth of work, that's bad publicity.

And it's their own fault for that bad publicity. They should have written code that properly enforced immutability of older stuff.

Of course, if that data cannot be recovered from backups, then it's Linus's fault. :)

Re:My opinion hasn't changed (1)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202081)

What happens if Tridge's client sucks? What happens if it corrupts older files?

Only the server could possibly corrupt older files. If the server is written correctly, it should not be possible for the client to take an action that would result in corruption of older files.

Re:My opinion hasn't changed (4, Insightful)

Welsh Dwarf (743630) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202119)

The point is that Tridge hasn't signed any liscence.

He hasn't even clicked through one. He wasn't useing the BK client, and was thus compleatly unbound by what BitMover thought and in the right to do what he was doing.

The day he installs the BK client and clicks through it's liscence, you'll be 101% right, until then I'm with tridge on this one.

Re:My opinion hasn't changed (5, Insightful)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201951)

Same here. Reverse Engineering is a Good Thing. That's how we geeks figure stuff out and make things better than before. If someone has a problem with reverse engineering, that person must be in the 'proprietary' camp.

I say McVoy was trying to tie his proprietary product to the linux kernel development. Can't fault him, really, he's acting as a suit. The geeks that let him do that: shame. The ones that called his shenanigans: kudos.

It doesn't matter if it's the best tool for the job. What matters is that the tool is not entirely within your control. It's like the chinese buying aircrafts from the americans, and the americans building a remote shutoff switch in the target aquisition radar. (bad analogy, I know... Sowwy.)

Ewww (5, Funny)

elasticwings (758452) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201790)

Wow, that is definitely one video I definitely wouldn't want to look for a torrent of.

Paraphrase ... (3, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201799)

http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2005/04/06/torval ds_bitkeeper/

So whether you take the view that Bitkeeper isn't compatible with the principles of the Linux project, or vice versa, is moot. It's simply a wonder it took so long for things to come to a head.

CC.

Linus encouraged dropping the free version (2, Interesting)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202054)

Interestingly, McVoy says this:

At that point we started looking at what it would be like to discontinue the free BK. Linus strongly encouraged us to do this once he came to the conclusion that the costs of the free version to BitMover outweighed the benefits to BitMover.


Once again, Linus shows he more of a practical guy than a political ideologue. He recognized the cost to BitMover and suggested the rational solution for them. I think Linus' role in this is being underreported--he appears to have been on McVoy's side all through this.

What the... (3, Insightful)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201807)

Linus said

Larry has a very clear moral standpoint: "You can compete with me, but you can't do so by riding on my coat-tails. Solve the problems on your own, and compete _honestly_. Don't compete by looking at my solution."

And that is what the BK license boils down to. It says: "Get off my coat-tails, you free-loader". And I can't really argue against that.


That's bollocks. Reverse-engineering is not riding on the coat-tails of anyone. It ensures that the product is 100% compatible.

If Linus truly believed that, he'd have worked to drop Tridge and keep BitKeeper. However, I'm quite disappointed in Linus implicating Tridge as the evil in this situation.

Re:What the... (2, Interesting)

Ithika (703697) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201915)

Quite... if McVoy really thinks reverse-engineering a 100% compatible substitute is "free-loading" I'd hate to see what he regards as "hard work". Maybe programming directly in machine code by hovering a very accurate magnet over the HD by hand? :)

Re:What the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12202047)

Quite... if McVoy really thinks reverse-engineering a 100% compatible substitute is "free-loading" I'd hate to see what he regards as "hard work".

Designing and writing a complex distributed SCM yourself. Why isn't Tridge doing *that*?

By reverse enginerring Larry's code you're stealing his design.

Re:What the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12202152)

Because it's been done for him and the law permits him to reverse engineer it as long as he has not broken any license agreements, which he maintains he has not since he does not use a commercial BitKeeper client.

Re:What the... (1)

Esben (553245) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201941)

If Linus believed this he would drop Linux and buy SCO's UnixWare. Isn't Linux just an reverse engineering of Unix??

The Next Big Thing (TM)?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12201808)

What with BitKeeper getting mentioned so much on Slashdot I need to find out how to invest in them. They must be really successful like that company with the fruit, or the one named for the mispelling of a really long number.

I really think Tridge needs..... (2, Interesting)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201816)

...to make a better statement.

This kind of thing looks bad to the entire community and makes corporations question their liability if it's found their products in use have been copied. OSS doesn't need this kind of anchor around it's neck.

I hope this addressed openly and completely in the near future.

Re:I really think Tridge needs..... (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201885)

corporations question their liability if it's found their products in use have been copied.
Which would be a legitimate concern if reverse engineering were illegal. But it isn't. And "Not illegal" means "no liability".

Re:I really think Tridge needs..... (5, Insightful)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202048)

What exactly do you want him to say? He's never agreed to the BitKeeper license, and he's not bound by it. How could his defense possibly be any stronger?

What is this, some kind of astroturfing effort by McVoy to try to make us think that "everyone" feels like Tridge's defense is weak? What, exactly, is deficient in his statement?

Riding of Coat-tails. (5, Insightful)

ShaniaTwain (197446) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201819)

Larry has a very clear moral standpoint: "You can compete with me, but you can't do so by riding on my coat-tails. Solve the problems on your own, and compete _honestly_. Don't compete by looking at my solution."

Hmm.. and where does that end? Is it dishonest to not re-invent the wheel for your new automobile? This is a tricky area because outright copying of someone elses work without their permission is not right, but figuring out how someone else has solved a problem is kind of the way progress works.

Re:Riding of Coat-tails. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12201890)

but figuring out how someone else has solved a problem is kind of the way progress works.

But they figured it out in the first place, and they deserve some credit for that. That's the way the patent system works. ... except we have no workable software patent system. Hey-ho.

Re:Riding of Coat-tails. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12202023)

Not to mention that McVoy attributes this paragraph to Torvalds. If Torvalds really did say that then I have to say it's rich coming from someone who's made his name from "reverse-engineering" UNIX.

I don't believe Torvalds said that and if I were him I'd sue for slander.

Interesting (3, Interesting)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201833)

Back on February 23 I learned from Linus that Tridge was reverse-engineering BK so that he could pull stuff out of BK trees without agreeing to the BK license. -- Larry
versus
I did not use BitKeeper at all in writing this tool and thus was never subject to the BitKeeper license. I developed the tool in a completely ethical and legal manner. -- Tridge


Curiouser and curiouser.

And, incidentally, since Larry is so offended by Tridge's reverse engineering, I take it that he's taken the moral stand, and backed up his strong principles by making sure that none of BitMover's employees use Samba, either at work or in their spare time.

Re:Interesting (5, Insightful)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201912)

Better yet, since Larry is since against reverse engineering of his work, I hope he only uses IBM PC's, as all others stem from the original reverse engineering of the IBM BIOS.

When Is Reverse Engineering Wrong? (4, Interesting)

globalar (669767) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201865)

It seems that Larry McVoy has a fine line between a replacement and reverse-engineering (in this case compatibility?).

From the article (Torvald's statement):

" What Larry is _not_ fine with, is somebody writing a free replacement by just reverse-engineering what _he_ did."

I always am sympathetic to reverse engineering efforts, because frankly interoperability is ultimately a good thing. I am not sure what sort of principle we can follow if reverse-engineering is bad in this case. Where is the line? Is it a property line?

Re:When Is Reverse Engineering Wrong? (4, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201924)

Where is the line? Is it a property line?
Please don't buy into the double-think that ideas are property, the two concepts have almost nothing in common. Thomas Jefferson said it best: He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

Re:When Is Reverse Engineering Wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12202079)

Larry basically made an offer to the open source community: if they agreed not to clone his software, he's provide a free version for Linux.

This was something he didn't have to do, and it cost his company real profits.

Tridge decided that this wasn't acceptable, and that he wasn't bound to Larry's agreement. While he was within the letter of the law, he certainly didn't stick to the spirit.

Given that Tridge decided to reverse engineer a chunk of Larry's code, it stopped making sense for Larry to offer a free (and money losing) version of BitKeeper when it no longer served it's purpose.

Freedom Matters (-1, Redundant)

boingyzain (739759) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201871)

Man, remember all those people "flaming" over the freedom of tools on the lists? What was with them, anyway? Aren't they just starting a "religious war?" Who cares if this tool is free. It didn't cost me anything. Those crazy license zealots.

But wait.

Now, look what happened. The company (or individual) that was your friend a couple of years ago, decides today that you've offended them. Now they are taking their ball and going home.

Now you are stuck. You need to replace what they gave you. Oh, it'll cost you: manpower, lost opportunities, potentially a pile of pesos... Get ready for a painful transition. And as annoying and dangerous as this is for source control in mainline kernel development, there are many, many scenarios where this kind of manuevering will screw you much worse - alienating your customers, stranding years of development, the whole works.

This is why freedom matters.

And what is BitMover so upset about? That anyone would dare compete with them?

The audacity!

Does any vendor of a commercial product have a moral high ground to complain when a competitor appears? And whose problem is it if they are trying to charge money for something other will do for free?

Re:Freedom Matters (-1, Redundant)

redswinglinestapler (841060) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201895)

I always find it ironic that most of those who flame RMS et al usually argue that they're just being ideological, and all those who disagree "just want to get things done" and "free software 'zealots' are just being impractical". Nah. I was won over to free software because it's practical. I've never seen handing your data over to be managed by proprietary software product as "practical". I'm kind of bitter that way as I've been using computers for a long time, since the early eighties, and have had too much experience of what happens when proprietary vendors do not support you any longer, even often with no malice intended, as the manufacturers of the Dragon 32, Sinclair QL, and Commodore Amiga can demonstrate. I switched to GNU/Linux. Because it was practical. Because I knew that I didn't have to rely on a third party for support, because I could help others and get the information I need to support others, because no matter what happened, I'd be able to continue with what I had. Practical? You bet. Ideological? Perhaps, but only the same way as my dive instructor was "ideological", I mean he was obsessed with safety, obsessed I tell you! All I wanted to do was go down 60 feet and look at coral, but oooooooo noooooh! It's all "Buddy System" and "nitrogen levels" and other stuff. Ok, that's facetious. The latter is about life and death. But there's no reason that the less serious nature of proprietary vs open and free should make me unconcerned about the issue.

Re:Freedom Matters (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12202182)

The fact is and remains, that for some people, and in many situations, the burden of switching between proprietary apps is still far, far, far less than the burden and lost productivity and time that is spent on F/OSS applications.

And in many situations, that is true. And in most situations, it's not important.
The different between FOSS and proprietary is this: for the former, I don't have to switch. For the latter, I do.
If Commodore Amiga's operating system had been Free Software, the chances are I'd still be using it today. It would, by now, have a community of developers built around it who would have kept it up to date, ported it to commodity hardware, etc.
So, to be honest, this kind of argument doesn't impress me. Why, exactly, do I need to switch from sendmail? I don't. I can't envisage needing to any time in the next decade, can you?
Why did I need to switch from AmigaOS? 'cos it was set in stone. There'd never likely be an update, and even if there was one, I'd be unlikely to obtain it, and it's unlikely it'd ever move forward very far.

Re:Freedom Matters (5, Informative)

Liselle (684663) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202051)

So nice of you to copy this comment [slashdot.org] from an earlier story, verbatim, without crediting the original author.

Freedom to have you post duped? (2, Insightful)

acomj (20611) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202133)

Wow.
Nice catch.

Especially ironic given the title of the post, and the copyright issues the gpl uses as its core.

Re:Freedom Matters (2, Informative)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202132)

Amazing. The exact same post was made by Concern, here [slashdot.org] . And then Squiggleslash replies [slashdot.org] with the exact same reply that Redswinglinestapler replies with here [slashdot.org] .

Are you guys just all the same people, or what?

Moderators: this is redundant, and overrated.

Mods--this is a duped post from the last article (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12202176)

Just so you know. This "take your ball and go home" comment was from the last article.

Come on, folks (2, Interesting)

melted (227442) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201887)

You've put together the friggin' _kernel_. This is a lot more complicated than creating a version control system. Just take Monotone (which I like as it is), and make a BitKeeper killer out of it. Have Tridgell do it with a few other gurus. Yeah, it's probably gonna take half a year, but the benefit to the open source community will be immense.

Re:Come on, folks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12201942)

Most people that are in any way involved in the kernel can't do that.

...for another year.

Then they can.

No source code, no trouble (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12201914)

Once again, if no source code were available we wouldn't be in this mess.

Tridge has reverse engineered BK by pulling out code out of BK tree. Why? Because he feels so strongly that software should be free that he thinks it's OK to resort guerilla tactics like this to liberate it.

Free software fanatics like him make me sick.

Then again, Larry is partly to blame for exposing the source code in the first place.

Nickname usage (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12201956)

What kind of asshole do you have to be to use someone's nickname when you're accusing them of immoral coding practices? At the point where you're throwing a VERY public hissy fit over something someone does you lose all privilege of nickname use.

Good for its time, now it's time to move on (4, Insightful)

br00tus (528477) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201977)

If I hadn't paid close attention to it, I'd probably be as against the use of Bitkeeper as anybody. If one looks at the situation at the time though, Linux development was in a rut at just the time Linux companies were taking off in the stock market. Bitkeeper allowed Linus to work faster and delegate more authority. Some key features of Bitkeeper will probably be in the SCM Linus uses to replace it. I'm very happy to see Linux come back to a free software model of development.

I am not a zealot, so I do not think it was a sin to temporarily use non-free software, especially when there were a lot of circumstances at the time leading to this at the time - we didn't want a Linux fork or Linus having a nervous breakdown, or so on. You have to look at things like a war - there is an objective, there is strategy and there is tactics. Bitkeeper was a necessary tactical retreat, but now that Linux is moving beyond Bitkeeper, we can see it fit in with the overall good objective and strategy behind Linux. The thing people like me worried about was the fortitude of the Linus core team as they began using Bitkeeper - is this a tactical retreat, or are they going over to the dark side? With recent events, we can see they did the right thing.

I think people should have sympathy with the situation at the time that led to Bitkeeper. It's alright for Richard Stallman to be pure and a zealot - that's his job. But it was a tactical necessity. On the other side of the coin are the little worms who whine how some developer floating around out there tried to reverse engineer Bitkeeper and offended the tender sensibilities of Bitmover and Larry McVoy, and how Linus doesn't crawl in subjugation before Bitmover and by implication other short-term corporate concerns. I don't think these people really understand even corporate America, never mind industrial or information production in general. Corporate America doesn't respect little worms that crawl around and do whatever are ordered, they just get used up until they're of no use any more and are then thrown away. And who ever said Linux was for corporate America anyway? I always thought of Linux as by engineers, for engineers. Which is not the same things as by engineers, for corporate America. That's what most of us do for our day jobs.

Bottom Line (2, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201991)

When you think of copyrights like a right (and please don't go off on how it's pro business), then it is only a matter of time till you believe that your right is the right to controll how others use or learn from information that originated from you via coercive means.

Copyrights are not a "reasonable" position anymore (and please don't go off about how the GPL is a copyright license without reading it first either) Because the "right" to micro-controll and manipulate how every last person uses information in the information age is no longer, workable tenable, or acceptable any more.

Re:Bottom Line (-1, Flamebait)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202050)

blah blah blah whiny liberal bullshit.

If you don't like the license ... don't use it.

Tom

Re:Bottom Line (2, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202128)

If you don't like the license ... don't use it.

That's such bullshit. First off, the guy who was reverse engineering wasn't party to the license. And second off, that logic is like the saying "if you don't like slavery - don't own slaves".

PS: I'm not liberal, I'm more like libertarian, and copyrights are not a property right - they are a bullshit regulation on how people use information.

Well. lets see now (1)

KingBahamut (615285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12201993)

Tridge is a bit of a Militant in my opinion. I understand his position, and to some extent might even aggree with it. However I do not believe that people using non-free software to be "living in sin". Thats rather asinine.

Re:Well. lets see now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12202178)

You'll notice that Tridge didn't say that in the article - someone else (who had an interest in making Tridge look bad) said it about him.

o.O a loooooooove triangle (0, Offtopic)

z00ky (614811) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202001)

I thought that OSTG would never get caught up in a Soap Opera... I guess that day has come. OH LINUS! LEAVE TROID FOR ME! I'LL MAKE SWEET LOVE TO YOU IN ACAPULCO! MWAH! blech. this whole bitkeeper debacle stinks to high heaven.

Zealotry? (0, Troll)

kirkb (158552) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202020)

I know that it's heresy to say this on slashdot, but it sounds like things were running pretty fine until rabid open-source zealotry reared its ugly head.

Although BK has always been a source of controversy among kernel developers, fans of BK were happy and productive using it, while anti-BKers were also happy and productive, using whatever other SCM software they wanted. So everything's kosher.

Then this 'Tridge' guy comes along, and is *so* opposed to BK that he is determined to fight against it using tactics that are legal, but not especially moral, ethical, or friendly. Then, while a temporary cease-fire is arranged so that the matter can be discussed and resolved maturely, he violates this truce.

So now that so much happiness and productivity has been ruined, are the license zealots happy? I hope so.

Re:Zealotry? (1)

z00ky (614811) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202067)

uh dude, heresy is an understatement.

No Reverse-Engineering Allowed (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12202043)

Well, I guess that's the end of "standing on the shoulders of giants".

The short coat-tails of Larry McVoy (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202087)

Larry has a very clear moral standpoint: "You can compete with me, but you can't do so by riding on my coat-tails. Solve the problems on your own, and compete _honestly_. Don't compete by looking at my solution."

If this is the same Andrew Tridgell that created rsync and samba, that is not his reputation. There are many successful examples of reverse engineering software without consulting the original sources. Heck, samba and linux are formost among these! Why should Mr. McVoy think that BitKeeper is perpetually immune from immitation?

Really? (5, Insightful)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202105)

There is no doubt Tridge is being cast as the villain in this piece.
Huh. I just don't get that. Sure, McVoy casts him the villain, but agreeing with McVoy means you assume reverse engineering is wrong.

I don't think many of NewsForge's readers are going to be anti-reverse engineering. Like Sanity says, McVoy appears to want patent-level protection of his work. He doesn't have patent-level protection of his work, whether that's because he doesn't hold patents or because Tridge lives somewhere safe.

I don't think McVoy is exactly a villain here either. He just needs to quit acting like he got taken advantage of. He was doing a service and now it's not worth it to him so he's stopped. Larry McVoy, quit your bitching for your business' sake. However well founded you think it is, it only makes you sound like an asshole.

Definitely disagree with McVoy (3, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 9 years ago | (#12202106)

What I've got from this so far is this:

1. BitKeeper is a technically good program
2. Larry McVoy is an arrogant a******.
3. I have absolutely no problem with Tridge

Sure, Larry might not like people cloning his program. Well, tough. A clone is what is needed for interoperability. Sure, the Samba team could probably have built their own networking protocol, probably even a better one, but that wasn't the point!
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