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Tridgell Reveals Bitkeeper Secrets

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the stare-into-my-secret-places dept.

Programming 373

wallykeyster writes "The Register is reporting on Andrew Tridgell publicly demonstrating how to interoperate with Bitkeeper. During his keynote at the Linux.Conf.Au, Tridgell connected to a BitKeeper site via telnet and used the mostly forgotten "help" tool. Ethical arguments of aside, what really counts as reverse engineering anyway?"

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373 comments

lol @ #buttes, failures. (5, Interesting)

bethane (686358) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304886)

Well, I think it's safe to say that Linus Torvalds is wasting his time on his new RCS, 'git'. He may as well just go ahead and write a BitKeeper-compatible system, since he liked BK so much. Oh, wait. That's morally "wrong". So says the guy working on a clone of the UNIX operating system. Something doesn't quite add up here.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (4, Insightful)

amorformosus (781869) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304914)

The main difference is that Linus did not reverse engineer the MINIX kernel in order to write Linux's kernel. It's legit.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (5, Insightful)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304986)

Exactly. He didn't do something immoral, like cloning the IBM PC via reverse engineering.

We should have never had the PC revolution, because that resulted from the availability of PC clones.

We should have to pay over $1000 for a system with only 200 megs of disk and 8 megs of RAM. We should eat from the poison tree of reverse engineering.

(end of sarcasm)

Seriously, reverse engineering is legit. It is responsible for a lot of progress. It used to be legally protected, until insane laws (DMCA) and insane judges (Southern District of New York, Federal court system, etc) got involved.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305026)

You are wrong on so many levels. Do you know anything about the history of the PC or did you extract that entire statement out of the archive of B.S. you've read during study hall on groklaw.net? Hey, the guy in front of you is jumping off a cliff. It's your turn, d1p$|-|1T.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (4, Informative)

Binestar (28861) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305071)

It used to be legally protected, until insane laws (DMCA)

The DMCA specifically allows reverse engineering for compatibility.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (5, Insightful)

tzanger (1575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305163)

The DMCA specifically allows reverse engineering for compatibility.

I just had a discussion over dinner with some friends about this very subject. What it basically came down to was that even if there is a provision for it, it's gonna take someone with deep pockets willing to go to court over this. Hell even Adobe won't take it on, and they'd need it to use the Nikon raw file format.

The discussion also brought up an interesting point -- When is compatibility not the reason to reverse-engineer something? I mean even if you reverse engineer with the intent to make your own product, are you not technically trying to interoperate with something else?

The DCMA says a lot of things... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305177)

The DMCA specifically allows reverse engineering for compatibility

Tell that to Dmitry Skylarov. ;-)
--
AC

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (2, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305106)

Exactly. He didn't do something immoral, like cloning the IBM PC via reverse engineering.

Ignoring your insightful sarcasm, the IBM PC didn't even need to be reverse engineered since IBM would give you a map of the pinouts and everything else.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (2, Informative)

blane.bramble (133160) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305138)

Except for the all-important (at the time) BIOS.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (2, Insightful)

Phisbut (761268) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305210)

Except for the all-important (at the time) BIOS.

But the BIOS was reverse-engineered the Right-Way(TM). From this article [theregister.co.uk] :

In most jurisdictions, reverse engineering must be performed in a clean-room context. The people performing the reverse engineering may create documentation on the file formats and APIs, and the re-implementation must be performed by a team which has no direct contact (other than the documentation) with the first team. This is how, for example, the original IBM PC BIOS was reverse engineered.

Someone who is an employee of a high-profile licensee of the software in question clearly does not fulfill this requirement.

WRONG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305227)

IBM provided the BIOS interface in one manual and the source for the BIOS in another manual.

The source manual couldn't be used without the potential for copyright infringement so people, like Compaq, used the interface manual to create a clean room version.

PC reverse-engineering != typing "help" in telnet (5, Insightful)

js7a (579872) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305193)

IBM would give you a map of the pinouts and everything else
On the contrary, the entire "microchannel archtecture" is still considered a trade secret by IBM (please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there is a contractual reason that it might always be.)

Also, you still can't get docs on a whole lot of BIOS stuff which was reverse engineered years ago, because of indefinite-duration contractual obligations.

In any case, certainly, using telnet to type "help" and reading the resulting documentation does not count as reverse engineering. It is instead a form of RTFM/RTFD.

Re:PC reverse-engineering != typing "help" in teln (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305267)

On the contrary, the entire "microchannel archtecture" is still considered a trade secret by IBM (please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there is a contractual reason that it might always be.)

And except for IBM, on a small number of machines, for about six months, I don't recall MCA being used by anyone.

Much like the status of EBCDIC doesn't concern me much either. =)

Of course you're right. I was referring to the original IBM PC -- but I had forgotten the BIOS needed reverse engineering. :-P

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (-1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304926)

Plus Linux doesn't need or want something like BK. BK is distributed, whereas kernel development isn't (in the same meaning that is - kernel development has one main centralised vcs tree)

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12304950)

do you smoke crack rocks? or have you just been living under a fucking rock for the past month?

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (5, Informative)

BHearsum (325814) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305017)

Uhm. Nope.

Linus has stated that a centralized system would not work -- which is why subversion is a bad choice. He *needs* something distributed. Apparantly monotone was a possible choice, but in the end he decided to write his own system.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (1)

Mikael Johansson (814403) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305055)

Why didn't he help improve (or fork) Subversion so it would suit his needs better instead of starting from scratch?

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (2, Insightful)

Gleef (86) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305119)

The underlying design of Subversion is centralized. It's probably easier to write something from scratch than to change core design elements of Subversion.

But, I wonder why he didn't just help improve (or fork) Arch [gnu.org] so it would suit his needs better instead of starting from scratch. Arch is much closer to Bitkeeper in design and operation. It's decentralized, uses change sets, and it's GPLed.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305160)

Ugh, Arch is the ugliest distributed system out there. The Darcs [abridgegame.org] guys are working on GIT compatability (linus participated in that linked thread); and I think that has a lot more promise than Arch.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (0, Troll)

slashdot_commentator (444053) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305126)

What would he accomplish by forking Subversion and spending a year to get a workable replacement of BK? Isn't that equivalent to starting from scratch with GIT?

And who the HELL are you to be telling Torvalds how he should spend his time?

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305206)

And who the HELL are you to be telling Torvalds how he should spend his time?

The voice of Balmer and McNeeley.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (5, Funny)

blueskies (525815) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305238)

And who the HELL are you to be telling Torvalds how he should spend his time?

I did some research on him:

He is Mikael Johansson.
His slashdot ID is 814403.
And here is a link to his account in case you want to know more: http://slashdot.org/~Mikael%20Johansson [slashdot.org] .

Darcs or Monotone perhaps (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305137)

Seems the Darcs guys are talking to Linus [abridgegame.org] .

The distributed tools are way more powerful than the centralized systems; so I think it's great to see the Darcs and Monotone groups both interested in the (probably much more performant) Git backend.

(PS: yeah, I know about Arch, but damn that thing's confusing. I'm guessing they borrowed the usability team from clearcase. If you like Arch, it's definately worth checking out Monotone or Darcs. (personally I lean to Darcs because of the cool language it's written in; but like monotone as well)

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304929)

Oh, I thought it was about specifying data requirements, so that arbitrary systems could be built against it.
You're right; interoperable version control software would be teh sUx0rz.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (1)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305062)

He is not allowed to write one because of the license

Besides, rewriting BK doesn't mean that reverse-engineering does everything. Developing BK has taken many years and many developers. Look at wine for a example.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (2, Interesting)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305118)

It would be moraly wrong if he himself had done it after promising not to , but he didn't and there is no law i know of that restricts reverse enginering(not that companys don't try with some though).

for example Wine would be a moral linux no-no , samba also , many many other things including as parent said, the kernel.

What this ammounts to is Linus saying "linux is immoral" ... I respect the fact that we all make mistakes , but forgivness comes after an apoligy.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (0)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305200)

I don't think that Wine and Samba are moral no-no's. Neither of the apps mentioned have a Linux equivilent. Thus you can not run them on linux. BitKeeper can be run on Linux. Therefore reverse engineering BitKeeper is really just trying to get their propeitary work. Thus they shouldn't try to reverse engineer BitKeeper. They should strive to write an new app which is better than BitKeeper.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (-1, Troll)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305136)

Oh, wait. That's morally "wrong". So says the guy working on a clone of the UNIX operating system. Something doesn't quite add up here.

UNIX was and is open source. That is one of the reasons why it survived and spread heavily in the Universities and in commercial variants as opposed to VAX. Hell even the first DOS OS had bits of UNIX in it. Linux was not the first OS to learn from the original UNIX. See SUN, AIX, BSD, and just about any other *NIX that has come out since the original Bell Labs Unix was written. However, BitKeeper is not open source. If BitKeeper wishes to keep their source proprietary then it is morally wrong.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (4, Insightful)

rpdillon (715137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305197)

Reverse engineering is not morally wrong...in fact, it is specifically protected by all the copyright laws in the US.

Heck, "reverse engineering" is "figuring out how something works", AKA "hacking" (NOT "cracking"). This is the basis of most good technological progress and, in a different realm, science.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (1)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305280)

Agreed on that point. However, what it sounds like they are trying to do is to get BitKeepers mojo for free. BitKeeper runs on linux and doesn't have a major market share. If it didn't run on linux I could see the argument of reverse engineering. For example SMB, WINE, MS Office format. This isn't a case of them using BitKeeper and deciding to write an application which works like BitKeeper. This is a case of them specifically trying to figure out the process behind BitKeeper. In a way they are basically trying to see how the engine works and then copy the engine. This is much different then being inspired by a product and wanting to create an improved product with your own skill.

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (1)

Dot.Com.CEO (624226) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305245)

Hell even the first DOS OS had bits of UNIX in it.

This is so wrong it is actually hilarious!

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305249)

So you think Samba and Wine are morally wrong?

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305256)

If BitKeeper wishes to keep their source proprietary then it is morally wrong.

Did this guy get their source? No? Judging from this revelation that you can telnet to the server and ask for "help", what proprietary anything was morally infringed upon? Is there some super secret society pledge not to read the "help" message that I'm not aware of?

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (0)

mrRay720 (874710) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305258)

"However, BitKeeper is not open source. If BitKeeper wishes to keep their source proprietary then it is morally wrong."

WTF????????????????????
If they put in the $ and effort to produce something why the hell should they be morally obliged to give it away? I hope you realise that you're being morally wrong by not give me the contents of your wage packet every month. That makes about as much sense...

Re:lol @ #buttes, failures. (2, Interesting)

Elshar (232380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305185)


He's not working on a clone of the unix os. He's working on a kernel that in all actuality is nothing at all like unix. The gnu tools that people use with it make it feel like its kinda sorta unix-ish though. Sorta. :)

Give me a break... (0, Flamebait)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304890)

I've just reversed engineered MS Exchange. Here's my demo:

sh-2.05b$ telnet mail.egl.net 25
Trying 208.159.114.4...
Connected to mail.egl.net.
Escape character is '^]'.
220 vmail2.iserv.net ESMTP
help
214 qmail home page: http://pobox.com/~djb/qmail.html

I hope he has something more substantial to back himself up than a weak joke.

Re:Give me a break... (2, Insightful)

c++ (25427) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305012)

214 qmail home page: http://pobox.com/~djb/qmail.html

So, you're saying that Exchange is qmail?

Re:Give me a break... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305037)

no, he's saying 'insufficient info' - without this line you would have not known it was qmail and not MSExchange.

nth post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12304893)

die troll scum! No first post for oyu!

Other BK Secrets: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12304902)

Other BK Secrets:

- Free ice-cream at Baskin Robbins if you read the EULA.
- Christian influenced code.
- Uses RPN.

Bit Keeper's actually... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12304906)

A man named Johan Mikelson who keeps track of every bit inside his head!

Re:Bit Keeper's actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12304949)

You mean it's not Keanu Reaves?

Re:Bit Keeper's actually... (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305075)

He can only carry nearly eighty gigs of data in his head. Then what?

Re:Bit Keeper's actually... (1)

magefile (776388) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305184)

The kernel may be bloated, but it's not that bloated. Yet.

Re:Bit Keeper's actually... (1)

missing000 (602285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305070)

I have both of them kept locked away myself. Here's a secret, one of them is a 0.

reverse engineering (1)

DosPinas (727101) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304907)

gnireenigne if think geek is to be believed.

Yeah I mentioned this before (0, Offtopic)

Naikrovek (667) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304911)

but i was modded down for it. assholes.

http://linux.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=146845&c id=12301815 [slashdot.org]

Mod parent up, then (0)

lilmouse (310335) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304954)

Give him back his parent ;-)

Re:Mod parent up, then (2, Funny)

lilmouse (310335) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304985)

err...give him back his karma :-P

(yeah, yeah, I know the Preview button is there - you can give him some of my karma for not previewing)

No no, mod the bastard down some more (1)

menace3society (768451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304993)

He's just trying to karma whore by whining. I bet, if I submitted articles (sans links) that said I got modded down for mentioning the submitted story, I'd get modded up. Even if I was lying. Mod him down and put a stop to this practice.

Re:No no, mod the bastard down some more (-1, Troll)

Naikrovek (667) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305093)

you know that how?

turns out in real life my name is Jeremiah. My life is becoming more and more like the Biblical Jeremiah's life in that i'm right a hell of a lot more than anyone else and all they want to do it shut me up for it.

so fuck ya all. :)

Re:No no, mod the bastard down some more (1)

rk (6314) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305296)

Do you really think that somebody with a UID in the three digit range needs to karma whore?

Do you hear that ringing sound? It's the clue phone. Pick it up.

Re:Yeah I mentioned this before (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12304995)

He used a dirty word... mod his fucking ass down!

Re:Yeah I mentioned this before (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305113)

Kill them all. Every one.

Re:Yeah I mentioned this before (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305117)

The reason is simple, you're just over the evil limit.

Do this change something? (1)

chkorn (799133) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304931)

I don't think that this changes much in open source development. Linus has made his decision and i think that this isn't that good for bitkeeper. Many companies are using bitkeeper because linux is/was managed with this tool. Well. We'll see. But well done Andrew. Better than reverse engeneering it in the hard way and "ripping" the secrets out...

Re:Do this change something? (5, Insightful)

stry_cat (558859) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304988)

Linus has made his decision and i think that this isn't that good for bitkeeper.


Actually I think it is good for bitkeeper. No one at my company had ever heard of BitKeeper until this controversy started. Now they're looking into using it.

Any publicity is good publicity

Re:Do this change something? (1)

chkorn (799133) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305048)

Well. That will maybe right.

But what is after this wave of attention? I'm sure that the Bitkeeper promotion team has lost its best example for a successful project.

Re:Do this change something? (5, Insightful)

Eberlin (570874) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305217)

Of course that is until people look deeper into what the publicity is all about. McVoy pretty much illustrated the inherent dangers of not being Open Source -- that at a whim (of a madman?) all your data are belong to them.

Worse yet, we've illustrated that here's someone who's willing to do just that...yank his product from under a high profile project.

If your company is looking into using BK, you may wish to take these recent events into consideration or at least bring them up to those making the decisions.

Perhaps a stretch (5, Insightful)

jonnystiph (192687) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304948)

Does anyone remember taking thier first radio apart "just to see how it works". This in the most base form was reverse engineering. Personally if you have the resources and the desire, by all means. Find out what makes it tick. The only reason Bit-Keeper is annoyed is because they see a free product competing with thier own. Not yet persay, but in the very near future.

Re:Perhaps a stretch (1)

El (94934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305020)

The only reason Bit-Keeper is annoyed is because they see a free product competing with thier own. Most companies adopt a business model of giving the client away for free and charging for the server. To the best of my knowledge, Tridgell was reverse-engineering the client, not the server. That shouldn't have resulted in any revenue loss to BitKeeper if they had followed the traditional business model. Wasn't BitKeeper also giving their client away for free?

Re:Perhaps a stretch (1)

GoCoGi (716063) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305076)

In distributed version control everone seems to be a server anyway.

Re:Perhaps a stretch (1)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305260)

BK isn't client/server, it's peer-to-peer.

Captain Latin Nazi strikes again! (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305030)

Here is the link.
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=per%20se [reference.com]

Per Se.

Using BK's servers (-1, Troll)

thaddjuice (235568) | more than 9 years ago | (#12304964)

One of the things that a lot of people miss is that Tridge wasn't just reverse engineering some software that reads a Word file. He was reverse engineering the protocol that BK used on their servers.

What if Tridge wrote something that totally hosed the kernel source on BK's server? People would be screaming bloody murder at BK for letting it happen. One of the reasons BK kept their stuff closed was so they could take accountability if anything went wrong and now exactly how every client was accessing it. That's one of the advantages most managers see with going with a commercial company rather than a OSS solution.

This isn't just copying functionality, it's putting a widely used system at risk because you don't agree with their practices. That's the same philosophy espoused by a lot of virus writers.

Re:Using BK's servers (4, Informative)

Anthony Liguori (820979) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305023)

One of the reasons BK kept their stuff closed was so they could take accountability if anything went wrong and now exactly how every client was accessing it. That's one of the advantages most managers see with going with a commercial company rather than a OSS solution.

This isn't just copying functionality, it's putting a widely used system at risk because you don't agree with their practices. That's the same philosophy espoused by a lot of virus writers.


You're kidding right? If the BK system is so brittle that it cannot protect itself against a hostile client then it should not be hosting any source code.

If a friendly client (trying to obtain interoperability) can fundamentally break a server, just imagine what a script kiddie would do..

Re:Using BK's servers (2, Funny)

slashdot_commentator (444053) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305209)

You're kidding right? If the BK system is so brittle that it cannot protect itself against a hostile client then it should not be hosting any source code.

Gee, if Linux/Microsoft is so brittle that it cannot protect itself from a hostile client, people shouldn't use it either.

Re:Using BK's servers (1)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305057)

Just because virus writers have the same philosophy, that doesn't mean reverse engineers are bad. That's a seriously flawed argument.

Also, I believe the kernel source is usually backed up. They'd just have to restore it. And hopefully, if it got hosed, Linus would willingly switch from using BK, because it would prove its inviability as an SCM.

Re:Using BK's servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305072)

This isn't just copying functionality, it's putting a widely used system at risk because you don't agree with their practices. That's the same philosophy espoused by a lot of virus writers.

If he's careful I sincerely doubt he would do any damage. If he'd prefer to use his own client instead of BK's though I don't understand why he couldn't use his own server as well.

Try this one again, shall we? (3, Insightful)

abulafia (7826) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305077)

Replace "AIM" with "BK" in the above text, and see if you still believe what you're asserting.

Re:Using BK's servers (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305120)

What if Tridge wrote something that totally hosed the kernel source on BK's server? People would be screaming bloody murder at BK for letting it happen....

And rightly so. If BK's server were so insecure, that it allowed a random person write access to the kernel source code, then people should be screaming bloody murder at BK.

One of the reasons BK kept their stuff closed was so they could take accountability if anything went wrong and now exactly how every client was accessing it. That's one of the advantages most managers see with going with a commercial company rather than a OSS solution.

You forgot to cite Windows as proof of how well a commercial company provides a secure operating environment.

Re:Using BK's servers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305127)

What if Tridge wrote something that totally hosed the kernel source on BK's server? People would be screaming bloody murder at BK for letting it happen. One of the reasons BK kept their stuff closed was so they could take accountability if anything went wrong and now exactly how every client was accessing it. That's one of the advantages most managers see with going with a commercial company rather than a OSS solution.

Security through obscurity? People are bothering to argue for that on slashdot?

Re:Using BK's servers (4, Insightful)

eturro (804858) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305182)

You can take accountability for a product when it is used according to a contract and not take accountability for it when it is misused. The manufacturer/service provider takes accountability under specific conditions.
Your suggestion that it is necessary to keep the BK protocol closed because the BitKeeper people want to be held accountable is just plain bogus. They did it to prevent competition.

Re:Using BK's servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305189)

Great troll. In case someone took you seriously, by paragraph: Wrong, wrong, and stupid.

> He was reverse engineering the protocol that BK used on their servers.

No, he was interacting with a world-facing open socket.

> What if Tridge wrote something that totally hosed the kernel source on BK's server?

I have no idea what you are saying. Whose server? Did you mean to ask "If BK has a such a fragile client-host relationship that thou darest not probe its port, why isn't the interface secure/encrypted/more obfuscated?"

> One of the reasons BK kept their stuff closed was so they could take accountability if anything went wrong and now exactly how every client was accessing it.

Accountability? Right, if you mean that it kept their accountants busy. Show me where in their license they accept accountability. Show me any software license where someone accepts accountability. They kept it closed to make money, in which I find no problem whatsoever.

> This isn't just copying functionality, it's putting a widely used system at risk because you don't agree with their practices.

Bullshit. In no way did Tridge put anything at risk other than two egos (L and L). At no point was there any political statement made by Tridge about practices.

> ...virus writers

Har!

Re:Using BK's servers (4, Insightful)

TekGoNos (748138) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305194)

> One of the reasons BK kept their stuff closed was so they could take accountability if anything went wrong and now exactly how every client was accessing it.

Yeah, I know and I think it is bullshit.
Nobody should rely on the client to be nice.

A while ago, any computer running ICQ could simply be shot down by a wrongly formatted package that ICQ would parse and break on it and (in the days of Windows 9x) take the OS with it.

From what I read, BitKeeper has the same problem : a client can completly trash the repository if it doesnt respect the protocol. Which I call slopy design.
I client shouldnt be able to make more damage than the user has rights and HEY! it's a f*cking version control system. I DEMAND that any change done by any client can be reversed easly (after all, this is what I use a VCS for).

For me, it looks like BitKeeper has a HUGE reliability problem in that it relies far too much on clients respecting the protocol and that they cry out that loud to avoid people from looking closer at this design problem.

Re:Using BK's servers (3, Insightful)

gotan (60103) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305302)

What if Tridge wrote something that totally hosed the kernel source on BK's server? People would be screaming bloody murder at BK for letting it happen.

... and rightly so. If BitMover doesn't put a proper authentification protocoll in place and doesn't safeguard against corruption of the BK database (what if some false bytes due to communication errors hosed the database?) then it's their fault. If it was as easy as you suggest in your posting then i'd call that gross negligence on behalf of BitMover.

Most BK servers are part of the internet, opening a simple telnet connection to a well known port is no secret at all. If Tridge could corrupt BKs database any blackhat could. There's really no excuse for implementing poor security or none at all in BK. For the benefit of BitMover i assume that they did put proper security in place and safeguarded against accidental corruption of the BK database. Regardless of that your argument is moot.

What counts as reverse engineering BitKeeper? (1, Insightful)

lilmouse (310335) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305013)

Any process that lets one reproduce BitKeeper's process. That includes things like protocol, data format, etc.

If I reverse-engineered BitKeeper and wrote a client, I would expect my client to be able to seamlessly interact with any other BitKeeper client. Sans license, of course ;-)

--LWM

Booooring (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305034)

Homer Simpson said this best:

Boooring!

Who the fuck cares about this?

Re:Booooring (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305094)

Lisa does.

Recycled Comment (4, Interesting)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305044)

I've read a few exchanges from the /. crowd, read a few statements by Linus and the gang, have read McVoy's interpretation of the BK saga, and have come to one conclusion:

No one but the three people involved in this fiasco *really* knows what happened to get this situation to the stage where people begin a verbal free-fire in public.

McVoy is a business man; true to his heart, he needs to keep the BK user strung out on his code. Hell, I would feel the same sense of outrage that he feels if someone threatened to kill my cash cow. Don't pretend that every one you wouldn't feel the same way if it was *your* revenue stream. To me, anyone who claims an absolute vow of poverty is looking for a monastery to live in. Everyone I know would fight to protect a source of financial income.

Selfish? You bet. But nature has created more selfish beings than egalitarian ones. Nature favors pragmatism.

But McVoy could have let this one ride a bit more. It is just a matter of time before someone cracks his model. Then he will have to play the same game as Microsoft and Adobe only on a different level. Too bad for him, though, that his inexpensive advertising scheme didn't last. That is another little detail that goes relatively "un-remarked" upon in the various forums I've read. Larry had one of the hottest programmers in FOSS using his SCM. In fact, this Man Of The Year lavished all kinds of praise on his progeny! You would have to pay more than the "free" license fee for that kind of advertising. Shit, probably A LOT more. If Linus had been paid for his endorsements, that could have added up to quite a sum of money. Larry has wisely kept those funds securely in his pocket.

Again, I'd do that too. The monks of this world can keep their vows.

Linus? Well, it was kind of hard to turn down a free license for one of the best SCMs on the market. If I had been in his position, I would have grabbed the product and ran. In fact, I would like to personally thank Larry for helping juice the Linux kernel development. I know SCO has been rummaging around in the Linux closet for evidence that it was their intellectual property that made the kernel advance so quickly. I believe that Larry's BK contribution probably made the significant increase in kernel production possible. Judging from Linus' angst and outrage, I think he believes that too.

But Linus is being a bit thin skinned. Does he believe he is the ONLY programmer that has been burned by relying on a proprietary product for their work? Didn't he listen to all the people who had been telling him about *their* bad experiences with proprietary lock-in? From what I've read in the past, they had plenty of legitimate worries that this was going to happen. I'm sure that Linus knew it would happen someday too. He's just pissed that it happened NOW as opposed to LATER.

Boo hoo, get over it, this too will pass, etc. But why attack Tridgell in public? Hmmm.... That does raise some interesting questions. And why get all bitchy about it?

There is something we are not getting in this little soap opera. Tridgell is silent, probably for good reason. But why would Linus take him to task knowing that he would not be able to respond publicly?

And Perens? This is a slugfest that only Gates, Darl, and RMS would love - all for differing reasons. Why does Perens feel compelled to call out Linus over his treatment of Tridgell?

I thought the points made by some posters about just how Tridgell was sniffing packets to see the metadata protocols is extremely insightful. To have BK protocols running on his network would require that he be operating a client and server somewhere where he could see it, no? What network was he sniffing if he didn't have a license?

What amazes me is that the attempt to get BK's protocols didn't happen *sooner*. With all of the pissing and moaning that erupted when Linus started using BK, I would have thought there would have been someone doing what Tridgell was accomplishing years ago. Is it possible that Tridgell was sniffing Linus's traffic? Or did Tridgell go to another kernel developer's house and sniff the line as they worked? Does it matter whether Tridgell did the sniffing? What if there are a whole faction of kernel developers (there 200 daily active programmers working on the Linux kernel according to Perens) that had been submitting ether dumps for Tridgell to analyze?

What if it was someone other than Tridgell who had been doing the work? Would that have gotten Linus as mad as he is now? What if someone, totally unrelated to the kernel development group, and/or not directly linked to ODSL, had done the work? What would have been Linus' objection then? Would he have laid such harsh condemnation on someone else for breaking BK's protocols? How would he justify his rage then?

I believe there is a lot of personal tension in this situation than is evident from the written (and unwritten) traffic on this matter. McVoy accuses Tridgell and OSDL for not stopping the hacking effort. He could be right, but so what? What if Joe Schmo had broken the protocol? The open source world would first say "Who?" then would throw up their arms in victory, and quickly moved along. But this is a personal matter between people who have been hanging out together for a LOOOONG time (how old is McVoy or Perens?).

The vase is irreparably broken. It is time to move on.

Re:Recycled Comment (2, Insightful)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305218)

I thought the points made by some posters about just how Tridgell was sniffing packets to see the metadata protocols is extremely insightful. To have BK protocols running on his network would require that he be operating a client and server somewhere where he could see it, no? What network was he sniffing if he didn't have a license?

He could have asked someone to operate Bitkeeper on his network, or gone to a network where someone was using Bitkeeper. I bet at least one kernel developer would be willing to let him do that.

Re:Recycled Comment (1)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305242)

I bet at least one kernel developer would be willing to let him do that.

I agree. I am astonished that this didn't happen sooner.

Re:Recycled Comment (1)

arodland (127775) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305231)

By "Recycled Comment" you mean "this is what everyone else has already said, so why don't I say it too and look bright", right?

Re:Recycled Comment (1)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305293)

No.

"Recycled Comment" refers to the fact that I've submitted it before on this topic.

Thanks for the benefit of the doubt.

Your premises are wrong. (1)

cananian (73735) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305243)

The linked article demonstrated how Tridge accessed the bk system. He typed 'clone' at it, and it started spitting BK data at him. He dumped that binary data to disk and started munging through it. He was looking at the *on-disk format*, not any "wire formats" other than the one demonstrated with the telnet session. He didn't need to be sniffing anyone's network to do this.

Re:Your premises are wrong. (2, Insightful)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305264)

He didn't need to be sniffing anyone's network to do this.

Yeah, I wrote this before the demonstration was published.

The other points are still valid. Why is Linus so pissed? Would he have been equally pissed if it had been done by someone other than Tridgell? etc, etc.

Re:Recycled Comment (4, Insightful)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305259)

But why would Linus take him to task knowing that he would not be able to respond publicly?

Because that's the best time to attack someone. I think, despite what you say, Linus didn't believe it must end. He felt this one would be different. Ultimately he made a bad call, he's angry about it, and to distract attention from his misjudgement he's attacking someone who can't respond.

And Perens? This is a slugfest that only Gates, Darl, and RMS would love - all for differing reasons. Why does Perens feel compelled to call out Linus over his treatment of Tridgell?

Because someone had to do it, and it had to be someone with the standing. Linus is doing something horrible, but do you think he or his fans would listen if you or me called him on it? Which I would, in an instant. But probably only Perens and ESR had the stature to do this.

The Linux Life? (5, Funny)

mveloso (325617) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305053)

These political spats are fun, but realistically speaking, this is degenerating into an episode of "The Simple Life."

Next thing you know, Torvalis will be breaking up with Perens because "well, he knows what he did."

Person 1 liked a tool. Person 2's actions caused the first person to lose rights to his tool. Person 1 vents. Person 3 vents on Person 1. BFD.

Soon, there will be a group hug and an exchange of hair care products. End of story. Welcome to "life in the big leagues of software." Tune in next week, when Person 5 attempts to purchase a voltage regulator.

Re:The Linux Life? (1)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305169)

I think I should be terrified that I know what you're talking about.

That blows my theory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305078)


I had been under the impression that the Slashdot editors were with the F/OSS faction that Linus must be deposed as lead kernel maintainer for using proprietary software.

Then, I had thought it wasn't such a hot idea for the Register to be publicizing Tridgell's comments concerning his reverse engineering activity. It becomes ammunition (record of statement) which could be used in a civil or criminal prosecution. (U.S. law has become quite murky with anti-hacking laws (pre-Patriot) and the Patriot act.)

But now, Slashdot is doing what it can to publicize Tridgell's comments. Lets hope Tridgell checked with his lawyers before making his little speech.

Linus pressured to drop it? (0)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305097)

This seems really out of character for Linus, I suspect that someone in his position practically lists his job title as "reverse engineer". I bet he was pressured by someone(s) to drop bitkeeper and he's pitching a fit as a sign to all of us that something totally crappy happened.

Don't put the ethical arguments aside please... (1)

tyroneking (258793) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305104)

I cannot see any justification for the slamming that Tridgell is getting and it's worse that it's coming from a very respected figure, so maybe _I've_ got something wrong here; it's time the ethical argument _was_ tested and debated between Torvald and Tridgell in the open so I can read what both sides really think and I can make up my own mind. Torvald can't be talking c**p but neither can Tridgell - maybe here is a chance for us all to study a very important debate; if BitKeeper would play ball then maybe Tridgell can speak out openly. Hey, maybe even Richard Stallman could get involved (only joking ;)

The Register (1)

murdocj (543661) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305122)

Ok, I don't read The Register much, but the titles of the "related articles" caught my eye. Pretty tough to figure out which side they are on:

'Cool it, Linus' - Bruce Perens

Torvalds knifes Tridgell
The Larry and Linus Show: personalities vs principles?
Linus Torvalds in bizarre attack on open source
Linus Torvalds defers closed source crunch

Re:The Register (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305173)

And all those articles are written by the same person, Andrew Orlowski.

Ethics aside? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305134)

The trouble is that you can't set ethics aside unless you're unethical.

I know this is not a fashionable position here on Slashdot, but what Tridgell did was downright slimy. It apparently was not illegal and according to some not a violation of any software license. But he was hired by OSDL with a certain understanding about the BitKeeper license, and due to exhaustive prior LKML discussion certainly aware of the terms of that license.

Nevertheless he chose to surreptitiously interact with (and thus "use") sofwtare provided on a complimentary basis under certain terms he knew he intended to violate. Not only that, he did not have the balls to TELL anyone what he was doing in advance, and that he did not agree with the license. Instead he blindsighted Linus Torvalds and everyone else at OSDL who entered an agreement with BK.

If Tridgell wanted to reverse engineer BitKeeper in an ethical fashion, he could have disclosed his plans to OSDL and connected to a PAID copy of the server. Instead he decided to act slimy, sneaking around to exploit specially comped software.

Now Slashdot wants to hold a discussion about the fruits of his slimy work, as though the MEANS through which this knowledge was acquired is totally irrelevant. Heads up guys, it is relevant.

Poking a server you don't own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12305141)

Isn't that kind of behaviour a crime in many countries?

Re:Poking a server you don't own (3, Interesting)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305195)

Not if you were invited.

Scenario: Bob is forced to buy a client for a SCM he doesn't like. Bob invites Ted to come over to his house and poke around on the client. Bob has permission to use the client AND interact with the server. Ted is looking at the server from the client that his friend purchased.

I don't think that would be something that could be construed as "illegal". It might be "actionable" in a civil tort sense.

That might be why Tridgell is keeping quiet.

Free as in stealing? (5, Insightful)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305156)

Am I the only one here who things that real freedom is achieved only when you can tollerate an opposing point of vew?

Why can't BK develop, and sell software under any liscense they choose? Why isn't Linus free to use that solution if he so chooses? Why is it ok for us to rip on the MS type people for behavior that is OK for us to emulate in support of free and open software?

Why is it ok to try and screw BK over, who spent a great deal of money to develop this?

Is tridge IBM unclean hacker (1)

Camel Pilot (78781) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305157)

Is Tridge the elusive IBM hacker who "hacked" into SCO when the claimed [groklaw.net] :

"IBM exploited the bug to bypass SCO's security system, hack into SCO's computers, and download the very files IBM has now attached to its motion"

DMCA here I come! (0)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 9 years ago | (#12305159)

> used the mostly forgotten "help" tool. ... what
> really counts as reverse engineering anyway?"

So, reading the fine manual is now considered reverse engineering... And therefore illegal! Now I can sue anyone who tells me to RTFM!
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