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BitKeeper and Linux: The end of the road?

By Joe Barr on April 11, 2005 (8:00:00 AM)

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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.

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.

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on BitKeeper and Linux: The end of the road?

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The message I'm getting is

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 11, 2005 08:56 PM
that reverse engineering is evil, and is stealing. And Linus agrees.



Interesting.

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In other news...

Posted by: cammoblammo on April 11, 2005 09:20 PM
...Linus Torvalds has decided to stop using his mum's desktop computer, which runs Microsoft's Windows operating system, because it uses SMB shares.

"Apparently Tridge had a go at reverse engineering that one too, the mongrel" said Torvalds. "What's next? Minix? Cripes, soon he'll expect us to put reverse engineered drivers into the kernel itself!"

Mr Tridgell was unavailable for comment at the time of writing, but a spokesperson believes he is working on a new project. "Tridge will anounce the details shortly," she said. "Some time in the next week you can expect another piece of non-free software to be freely emulated and thus rendered unusable by anyone anywhere."

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Re:The message I'm getting is

Posted by: theantix on April 12, 2005 12:42 AM
The message you should be getting is that Linus doesn't approve of reverse engineering of a product he has a contract with that specifically excludes reverse engineering. He had hoped to use BK for a couple more years while open-source SCMs reached maturity, and he know Larry well enough to know what the reaction would be when BK was reverse engineered.

This is a very personal situation, and I don't think it is fair to generalize out what Linus thinks about all cases of reverse engineering.

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Re:The message I'm getting is

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 01:32 AM
This point is, the standard practice in a licensing dispute is to suspend the license *of that individual or institution* not *everyone*. If Larry was being ethical and thought he was right, he'd just suspend OSDN's licence, and not the whole OSS community.

This issue was just an excuse. Larry wanted an out and he found one. It was bound to happen eventually.

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Re:The message I'm getting is

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:38 AM
Personally I think the article and these responses border on libellous. The guy wasn't reverse engineering bitkeeper, just it's on the wire protocol. He didn't have any contract with Bitmover and nor did ODSL.

What happened was that Larry McVoy objected to a contractor (not fulltime employee; someone completely separate from ODSL) working _in his own time_ on something who also worked for ODSL and took away the license.

In other words, Larry screwed a partner (Linus) over about something a partner of Linus's partner (ODSL) did.

Linus should have the honesty and guts to own up to having messed around many people for someone who later screwed him.

Imagine that I objected to you having sex with your girlfriend (she should sleep with me or nobody) and tried to sue you because we both post on NewsForge. Would that be reasonable?

Reverse engineering is legal. Linus Torvalds has no business interfering with other people's sex lives or what they do at home with their computers either.

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Re:The message I'm getting is

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2005 10:49 AM
That's funny. The message I'm getting is that Linus felt bad for Larry McVoy, a friend of his, because he felt like he was getting the short end of the stick.


It's no wonder that OSDL declined to intercede. There was nothing illegal about what Tridge was doing, for the simple fact that he never agreed to any kind of license. And since he never used the product, he didn't HAVE to agree to the license.


Furthermore, as plenty of people have commented, reverse engineering is not illegal. Not even under the DMCA. The only way to make it illegal is to get the user to voluntarily give up that right, usually through some sort of license restriction. Which, again, Tridge never agreed to.


Ethically, it's hard to fault Tridge unless he was somehow doing something that was legal, but dishonest.


Now, on a personal level, you could argue that McVoy was providing a service to Linus et al, and that this was poor payback. I suspect this is Linus's viewpoint, since Tridge is right that he did nothing that was illegal or unethical.


Which does not necessarily mean that it was the right thing to do.....

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I think Tridge used Inspection

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:03 AM
Inspection, not reverse engineering.

I bet that Tridge did it by analysing what was being sent over the wire. He'd be good at this as it's how they figured out SMB.

I believe this is different than reverse-engineering, as reverse engineering, in a computer context, requires actual looking at code.

Since Tridge didn't look at the code, I believe that he kept his end of all bargans.

Look what Tridge triggered. It may end up that a new, free, more sane/powerful SCM will happened sooner.

Linus's switch to BK inspired many people to make other alternatives than CVS. Now Tridge's forcing Linus off of BK will accellerate interest in the best aspects of all these projects.

It'll probably be a chaotic year, but we'll probably all be better off in the long run.

Here's to growing pains!

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Re:I think Tridge used Inspection

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 03:45 AM
It'll probably be a chaotic year, but we'll probably all be better off in the long run.

Absolutely! The Goddess will be pleased.

And BTW, from what I've read so far and given Tridge's previous work with SAMBA, I'd have to say that McVoy's somewhat off-base here. If Tridge had decompiled the binaries, or even run the binaries in order to generate documentation, that would be problematic. However, if Tridge received a set of documentation by another person or group, or if he sniffed the wire, I don't see any problem with it.

McVoy was also within his rights, and I suppose he is allowed his feelings, and he may have Linus' sympathies, but I think that pulling the free license was about as far as he can go. I don't think, given the history of reverse engineering legal results, that he'd be able to do much more than that.

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Re:I think Tridge used Inspection

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 05:39 AM
Another point to ponder - how was the code stored? If it was stored in a non-proprietary database (such as MySQL, Oracle, Postgre, etc, he could have simply kicked off an SQL client and printed out a listing of the schema. He could have used that schema to build his own solution to pull the code out of the database, and reformat it as needed without reference to the BK application whatsoever.

This hardly falls under 'reverse engineering'...

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Re:The message I'm getting is

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:08 AM
No, the message that you should be getting is that Linus understands why Larry is pulling the free version. He isn't making any moral / value judgement on reverse engineering.

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I think you just fed a troll

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:27 AM
(The subject is the message, but braindead Newsforge insists on pointless comment in the message body)

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Re:I think you just fed a troll

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:37 AM
Really? I didn't post the grandparent, but here's what Linus said:

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.


I thought it was a pretty clear message myself.

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And the message from Linus is.....

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2005 02:46 AM
He said he can't argue with the license. In fact, anyone who accepted the license cannot argue with the license. But he did not specifically say whether he agreed or disagreed with Larry's particular licensing philosophy.

Andrew does not use the free product and thus did not agree to the license. Therefore, his actions are not censorable by the license. And the fact that Linus accepted the license does not mean that other employees of OSDL were beholden to abide by the bitkeeper license.

Bitmover got a lot of valuable free marketing, Linux got a tool that helped for a while. But it's over. Time to move on and use, or make, a decent and free SCM system.

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Re:The message I'm getting is

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:34 AM
Indeed. My respect for Linus just dropped several orders of magnitude.

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Re:The message I'm getting is

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 04:43 AM
I'm sure he's devastated to hear that.

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Re:The message I'm getting is

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:43 AM
Better stop all of those Linux servers that use the old Adaptec drivers.. they were all reverse engineered. Ooooh and Samba, OO.org, nmap... all results of reverse engineering.

I wrote a perl script today to help me reverse engineered a text file format... good thing I'm an Anonymous Reader

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Re:The message I'm getting is

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 03:52 AM
OOo reversed engineered? WTF?

What are you talking about?

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Re:The message I'm getting is

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 04:40 AM
OOo reversed engineered? WTF?

What are you talking about?


MS Office file format support.

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Patently Obvious: A lesson in being American

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 04:59 AM
"... that reverse engineering is evil, and is stealing. And Linus agrees."

Ok<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... let's start then, with the Q-Cam driver, from there to the various printers, scanners, IDE, WinModems<nobr> <wbr></nobr>....

What Larry needs to admit is that he really wished he'd patented his code, because that is what he's asking here, he's asking someone to respect his exclusive right to his invention or anything similar enough to his invention so as to circumvent his license. That's what a patent does<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... only Larry isn't man enough to say so. Instead he wines foul play, and Linus isn't man enough to say "tough titties, Larry, you should have patented it if you feel this way".


Tridge says he didn't have the code, so he didn't pilfer anything, he just worked backwards from the solution, the exact same way most of the Linux kernel device drivers were distilled from those hardware vendors unwilling to share specs. If Larry thinks Tridge stole the code, that's different, that's plagerism and that's being crooked if Tridge holds it out as his own, and Linus, in light of the lessons learned from SCO, should understand what all that means.

btw, whatever happened to SCO?

Anyway, back on topic: Larry won't use the P-word because he knows the free-software/opensource people will bolt for the door. Linus won't use the P-word because he and Larry are reasonably close friends. And Tridge won't say anything because he's (a) not a famous media-darling geek and (b) he's being bravely "unamerican" the way all the very best and most famous Americans have always been.

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Re:Patently Obvious: A lesson in being American

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 09:45 AM
Just thought I'd point out - Tridge isn't any kind of American, good, bad, or indifferent. He's an Australian.

Admittedly, we're rather rapidly becoming the 51st state, but at this stage we're still at least nominally independant.

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Re:Patently Obvious: A lesson in being American

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 12:46 PM
Nah, 51st state status was claimed long ago by us Canadians...

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Re:Patently Obvious: A lesson in being American

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2005 07:54 PM
Hmm, so UK is American colony ?

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Re:Patently Obvious: A lesson in being American

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 10:27 AM
...oh, and Tridge isn't American.

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Re:The message I'm getting is

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2005 05:55 PM
No...Reverse engineering by itself is not stealing or evil. Reverse engineering in order to rip off someone else's code *in violation of their license* is.

I'm not sure when some people are going to get it. Free/libre and free/beer are NOT the same thing. Developers need to eat, like the rest of us...and food costs money, in case you didn't know. So does bandwidth, electricity, a place to live, etc etc.

Anyone who tries to tell me that charging money for open source is wrong is going to get an extremely profane and generally abusive response, because not only are such people misguided and ignorant themselves, they're helping to promote a misguided, ignorant and destructive meme...which is even worse.

Get it into your heads...Open source means *source with binaries.* It does *not* mean that charging money for said source and binaries is either illegal or immoral. Only witholding source is. If when a person makes a purchase from you, they get source with binaries, you can charge as much as you want.

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Re:The message I'm getting is

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 14, 2005 01:41 AM
No...Reverse engineering by itself is not stealing or evil. Reverse engineering in order to rip off someone else's code *in violation of their license* is.

Totally misguided. We can trust "Tridge" not to have used any BitMover code. After all these years of analysing and reimplementing MS SMB, MS has not burned Tridgel to a crisp.

This proves that Tridgel really can work totally cleanroom, otherwise we would be talking about Tridgel who was imprisoned for MS IP theft.

Since Tridgel didn't use the BitMover code and didn't agree to it's license, BitMover couldn't do a thing about it. The only thing left was the choice to become what they really were; an old style proprietary software vendor.

The sad part about all of this is that the participants are all cought between a rock and a hardplace.

McVoy had no choice but to protect his proprietary model.

Linus couldn't react any other way, because strong reactions would do irreperable harm to all of FOSS/Proprietary relationships in the IT world and would dammage Linux severely.

Tridgel couldn't use the BitKeeper client from his ethical viewpoint and the only way to get to the Free Linux source in BK was to make his own BitMover-free client.

And thus everybody loses some... but also gets the chance to gain from this... overall it shouldn't change too much

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great reporting, Joe

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 11, 2005 09:00 PM
Finally we get the whole story. Obviously, this has to be taken in context of Linus the pragmatist straddling the free software and commercial software worlds. He's done a brilliant job at it so far, but it remains to be seen if he'll get derailed by these religious skirmishes - GPL v3 could be another one if the FSF goes forward with the SleepyCat CEO floated in the trial balloon.

My quick take is that OSDL management should've read Tridge the riot act, and canned him if necessary. They were the biggest villains here. But that's just me.

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Re:great reporting, Joe

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 11, 2005 09:12 PM
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.

Furthermore, Tridge did this on his own time. There would have been an even bigger outcry if OSDL canned Tridge for doing what FOSS developers do in his own time. McVoy seems to think that employers should have utter control over what their employers do. This is NOT seen as acceptable ethics in either the Free or Open Source worlds.

I find it disturbing that a FOSS developer is being chided by other FOSS people for ethical reverse engineering. Even MS seems to have a cooler head about the issue than McVoy.

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Re:great reporting, Joe

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 11, 2005 09:29 PM
The "free time" point is a canard. Sure, it could be that Tridge did his work on nights and weekends. But OSDL accepted the license explicitly prohibiting reverse engineering; therefore if Tridge didn't accept that part of it, he shouldn't have gone anywhere near BK, as if OSDL had never gotten it in the first place.

I guess the issue will be revisited if and when this guy comes forth with a longer explanation of what he did. I can understand that he doesn't want to say much without consulting a lawyer.

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Re:great reporting, Joe

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 11, 2005 09:57 PM
Oh come on. Because a few employees of a company (in one area -- the Linux kernel) are using a piece of software, the software maker should be able to stipulate what all the other employees (in other areas, such as Samba development) are and are not allowed to work on in their own spare time?!?

Give me a break. Could you imagine the cry if Microsoft did this. Uh, yes sir, you're fired! No developing of open source office suits for you! It's in the license. Our accounting division uses Excel...

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Re:great reporting, Joe

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 01:08 AM
OSDL can't regulate what Tridge did on his own time. However, OSDL shouldn't have said that Tridge agreed to stop working on it while they were talking about it. Whether or not they were lying (or mistaken), it looks like they were, which undermined any further discussions between OSDL and McVoy. If Tridge told OSDL that he stopped working on it and then kept working on it, then they (OSDL) could consider sanctions simply because he made them look bad. If he didn't tell them (OSDL) that, and then OSDL said that he did, well, they've just shot themselves in the foot publicity wise. In any case, Linus doesn't seem to have a problem with the resulting actions, so if you do, take it up with him instead of vilifying McVoy and company .

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Re:great reporting, Joe

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 11, 2005 09:44 PM
I can hardly wait until Tridge releases all the code. It's absolutely absurd that the most important GNU/GPL code in the world was kept in a proprietary system. Oh gosh, was that Linus admitting that this was an eventuallity..? Hmm..a little complicity before the fact maybe..? Could it be that's why he's siding with BK and NOT pointing fingers at Tridge?
Points to ponder and oh yes, flame away.

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Re:great reporting, Joe

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 06:49 AM
Ditto. It was an intolerable debacle that the crown jewels of Free Software was being stored in a proprietry CMS. Now that we have seen the true color of Mcvoy and company, I trust that this lesson will not be forgotten, and a mistake like this will never be made again. Even microsofts equivalent product does not have licensing as abhorent and obnoxious as Bitkeeper. Not that it was ever violated, Tridge was not subject to it at any time.

The silver lining in this is that a better Free Software product will inevitably arise from the ashes as a result of the Bitmover belligerence. Just as Tatu Ylonen, Darren Reed and similar people with problematic, oafish behaviour helped spur development of the wonderful openssh and pf software we will see something great born out of this nasty incident too.

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Not sure yet...

Posted by: Charles Tryon on April 11, 2005 11:43 PM
I agree that the article here, for what it contains, is good, but I'm not sure we have the entire story yet. I still don't know what Tridge was doing, or why his reverse engineering was any different from that of, let's say, the SAMBA team. If it was, in fact, only an export tool, then how was it a risk to the consistency of all the thousands of BK databases out there? If he is just looking at the binary output, then how is this different from OpenOffice.org trying to pick apart the MS Word format?


Now, if he had been writing a tool to import code into BK, or if he had been disassembling the actual BK binaries, then perhaps he should have had his shorts run up a flagpole, but at this point, I don't see where the problem is.

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Re:Not sure yet...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:55 PM
<a href="http://us4.samba.org/samba/team/" title="samba.org">http://us4.samba.org/samba/team/</a samba.org>

Tridge is Samba team. Duh!

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Re:great reporting, Joe

Posted by: pdorman on April 12, 2005 07:41 AM
Hell no. If Tridge was truthful when he said he did the work outside of the the BK license agreement well what's the problem?

Reverse engineering for fair use is completely kosha. How the hell do you think we got Samba? Think you could work with Linux on your desktop if you couldn't read and write Microsnot Office documents?

There are many examples of reverse engineering in OSS/Free software. Hell, Linux is a reverse engineered Unix!

Leave Tridge alone. If he broke the conditions of the BK license that would be another story, but from what I understand, that didn't happen.

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Re:great reporting, Joe

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:53 PM
> My quick take is that OSDL management should've read Tridge the riot act, and canned him if necessary.

You are full of shit, my friend. Just like Larry.

Tridge, don't listen to those idiots. Reverse engineering is just fine.

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Re:great reporting, Joe

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 04:09 PM
so is rape.

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Re:great reporting, Joe

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 05:09 PM
you rape people?

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Re:great reporting, Joe

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 10, 2005 11:20 AM
So *that's* how you develop Open Sores... I learn something new every day on this site!

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Good Job!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 11, 2005 09:39 PM
I for one will sleep better knowing that
McEvoy's "IP" is safe from the unfair and evil competition of reverse engineering!

Damn you Tridge, Damn you (all) to hell! Why don't you go join the Samba Team and you and Samba (and any other open source reverse engineering thugs) and Satan can have a nice little tea party together?

Did I mention that reverse engineering is not only unpatriotic but also communistic AND can give you herpes?

Sorry about the sarcasm the meds haven't kicked in fully yet.

Cheers,

E.

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Re:Good Job!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 01:02 AM
Ok lets not take this out of proportion. Although ultimately reverse engineering can be bad. Its not always bad. It depends on the intent. In some situations people do it because there are barriers to certain things. Samba has a better situation because they do it to provide unix based systems with a way to communicate with closed source ones. This can't be so evil because ultimately its not like they are releasing a version on Windows to compete. If companies like Microsoft provided tools for letting other OSes access their sharing systems so that everyone could share together then there wouldn't be a need to reverse engineer.

Lets not forget that reverse engineering isn't technically illegal. Be careful when you make comments like that.

#

Re:Good Job!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 01:33 AM
Try reading the comment again, especially the bit about sarcasm

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Re:Good Job!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 01:44 AM
Samba preceded Windows file sharing by a few years. Microsoft's implementation is the clone.

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Re:Good Job!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 05:33 AM
Sarcasm noted<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:) I must say that in all my dealings and discussions with Andrew he has always come across as an ethical person. Even when I played devil's advocate on Andrew he not only has stood his ground but also explained clearly why he has to be ethical and play by the rules. I personally think that reputation is everything in this community and he would stand to lose a lot if his was tarnished. That alone would be deterrant enough though I'm not for a second saying that this is the reason why he is the way he is. I got the feeling his ethics and morals emanate from his core because that's who he is, not because he's afraid of punishment.

I would love to see his full statement on this issue made public but I fully believe him when he says he has done nothing wrong.

I'm unsure if Larry's comments about Andrew riding his coat-tails are fully justified. Even when reveng is done right one could still claim any reveng-er is riding someone's coat-tails but reveng is a fully accepted practice in this and many other industries and there are rules and ethics for doing it right which I have no doubt in my mind Andrew is observing.

Cheers

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Re:Good Job!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 10, 2005 11:22 AM
> Did I mention that reverse engineering is not only unpatriotic but also communistic AND can give you herpes?

Better watch out, Open Sores could be a problem in that situation!

#

McEvoy Says more of what Linus says than Linus?!?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 11, 2005 10:03 PM
Seems to me like most of what Linus had to say was under what McEvoy said Linus said ("yes, I totally agree with McEvoy, and Tridge was bad bad bad..."). Would have been nice to have heard it come directly from him instead.

From his comments, it looks more like he's not really taking sides on this. More of a, "Well that sucked, but that's life attitude...". Guess that's some of the qualities that make him such a good benevolent Linux dictator.

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Yup, that's Linus

Posted by: Leon Brooks on April 12, 2005 10:27 AM
It's very, very hard to point to anything that Linus does and say, "that was unreasonable". He'd make an excellent president or prime minister.

Larry has a point, but he had a range of options open to him, and made what I (an uninformed outsider, remember) see as a suboptimal choice from amongst them. I would prefer to see more of Linus' words directly, but I think we get the idea. Both Linux and BitKeeper have profited from their time together.

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Reverse engineering

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 11, 2005 11:00 PM
One thing that is not clear to me is to what extent Tridge should have been restrained by the terms of the BitKeeper license, and whether it was the free license or a paid-for license.

1. Tridge says he didn't use BK at all in the development of his software. If that is true, then McVoy and BitMover are being unfair (with the caveat that the free use of BK was a gift in the first place, and that no can complain if the gift is withdrawn for any reason, even a whim).

2. If Tridge was using a free copy of BitKeeper to reverse-engineer it, then McVoy can legitimately be upset. However, Tridge says he didn't do that.

3. If Tridge had a paid-for copy of BitKeeper, then I believe most legal opinion would hold that he is legitimately entitled to reverse-engineer it for the purposes of creating interoperable software, even if McVoy doesn't like it.

4. If the whole thing is based upon Tridge being an employee of OSDL and doing things McVoy doesn't like, and McVoy subsequently calling OSDL to task for it, then I don't think McVoy is being fair (subject to the "whim" caveat listed above).

At any rate, I don't see how BitMover benefits at all from these recent events. Keeping Linux kernel developers from using BitKeeper for free isn't going to prevent reverse engineering in any way. If anything, the withdrawal of free BK by BitMover has probably hastened the development of a free (in the FSF sense) BK replacement.

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Re:Reverse engineering

Posted by: Chris Bruner on April 11, 2005 11:27 PM
Not to take sides here, cause I'm not involved, however how do you make one system interoperatable with another, with out using the other?

Reverse Engineering in this case will involve the two systems talking to each other, so Tridge must have used BK in some form in order to at least debug his code.

Just a thought.

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Re:Reverse engineering

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:00 AM
Reverse Engineering in this case will involve the two systems talking to each other, so Tridge must have used BK in some form in order to at least debug his code.


Tridge almost certainly looked at the kernel source code trees and BK changesets published by other people, and which are unencumbered by the BitKeeper license**. This is pretty trivial, as BK changesets are <tt>diff</tt>-like patch files with a little housekeeping information (who created it, what tree the patch is against, version name, and checksums).

**Or is McVoy really claiming that Free BitKeeper changesets are the intellectual property of BitMover?

To change the topic slightly: McVoy ought to look into a legal concept called "slander of title". It occurs when you deliberately harm the value of a property by making false statements about its title, such as driving people away from a copyrighted work with a false claim that its authorship is derived. Also, the fact that McVoy intentionally threatened Tridge's employment with this claim might constitute extortion. If I were BitMover, right now I'd be on my knees praying that Tridge doesn't have the money and indignation for a RICO lawsuit.

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Re:Reverse engineering

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 10, 2005 11:25 AM
> If I were BitMover, right now I'd be on my knees praying that Tridge doesn't have the money and indignation for a RICO lawsuit.

RICO SUAVE LOVES OPEN SORES!!

#

Re:Reverse engineering

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:25 AM
Linus wrote this:
<TT>> So I wrote some very preliminary scripts (on top of BK itself) to extract
> the data, to show that BK could generate a SCM-neutral file format (a very
> stupid one and horribly useless for anything but  interoperability, but
> still...). I was hoping that that would convince Tridge that trying to
> muck around with the internal BK file format was not worth it, and avert
> the BK trainwreck.

> 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.</TT>

so I'm going to guess that Tridge was working with a native BK repository. Not analyzing the wire protocol, but the native on-disk format. Such analysis would probably lead to a pretty good idea of the important BK data structures, which is a good lead into the algorithms.

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Re:Reverse engineering

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 11, 2005 11:38 PM
At any rate, I don't see how BitMover benefits at all from these recent events. Keeping Linux kernel developers from using BitKeeper for free isn't going to prevent reverse engineering in any way. If anything, the withdrawal of free BK by BitMover has probably hastened the development of a free (in the FSF sense) BK replacement.

McVoy said that the free version costs 500.000 dollars (us i think) yearly, so probably he could now use a cheaper marketing way than the Linux kernel folks...

IMHO McVoy checked his costs and benefits "gifting" the Linux developers of the use of BK, after three years he has probably rounded off the corners of his software, thanks to the needs of the above mentioned developers, and the benefits, in my view, are fading.

So to continue to sell his product, better to stop the demand of a free(dom) BK interoperable replacement, i mean, if the Linux folks don't use BK they will not need a tool that's compatible with BK... =)

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Re:Reverse engineering

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 11, 2005 11:50 PM
I wondered how he came up with that 500,000US/yr figure. I mean there would be some bandwidth costs for sure (but its a distributed repository right). What else? Four or five (very well payed) programmers working on it twenty-four seven? I doubt it.

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Re:Reverse engineering

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2005 02:07 PM
Those are BSA dollars...

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Re:Reverse engineering

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 12:53 AM
Remember, the cost of an employee is not just thier salary.

#

Except

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:17 AM
1. Tridge says he didn't use BK at all in the development of his software. If that is true, then McVoy and BitMover are being unfair (with the caveat that the free use of BK was a gift in the first place, and that no can complain if the gift is withdrawn for any reason, even a whim).




Not exactly. From the quote above and from the bottom of your post, you seem to be saying that BitMover isn't benefitting from use of the free version of BK, or its use by kernel developers. This is completely wrong. One of the benefits was having a rather large user base in a specific use to further development. Its use for Linux kernel development and resulting input from end users helps to guide the BK developers on what features need fixing, what new features are needed, whether the new features added in work as envisioned, etc. This input moves forward a project at a faster rate, and enables a faster return on investment when that input is implemented into the paid product.



Also, you are way off base to characterize the use of BK by Linus and others at OSDL as a gift that can be withdrawn at a whim. First, this isn't a case of charity. The original author of Linux starts using a tool for development, what do all the other developers working on the same project do? They use the same tool. By providing free use of BK, Bitmover received income from the commercial companies who have paid Linux kernel developers on staff. So providing Linus/OSDL with a few free licenses enabled Bitmover to gain benefits in two ways, through a kernel project's developer feedback, and through income from commercial companies paying for BK so Linux kernel hackers on staff can contribute patches important to the commercial companies.



Development costs may have been $500,000.00 a year, but this was offset by income from selling licenses to the commercial companies and from the improvements to the commercial version thanks to the input from Linux kernel hackers. Are development costs a loss with no value to the company? Or was there some value in providing Linus and a few others at OSDL with a free license?



As to withdrawing at a whim, it appears that even Bitmover disagrees with you.

#

WRT 3, not if he agreed not to

Posted by: Leon Brooks on April 12, 2005 10:42 AM
IRL, Tridge didn't agree to anything, which I think was wise of him.

Larry gave OSDL a choice between Tridge and BitKeeper, which I think was dumb of him. If I was runing OSDL I would refuse to muck about with Tridge's spare time as well.

Looking at the timescale, Tridge had pretty much completed the reverse-engineering before BM squeaked, so BM's ultimatum was pointless anyway. The can was open, the worms were everywhere.

I'm guessing that they would have been much better off not taking their copies of their toys home with them, and continuing to ride the publicity wave; but that bridge has also been pretty much crossed and burned now.

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Oh, Ok....

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 12:11 AM
So I guess everyone who agrees with Linus and BK doesn't use some tool to read word docs without using word? I'm glad Tridge did what he did. Or would you guys all rather go DMCA on him.

Long live GNU Arch.

Oh, and don't use samba anymore either.

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Re:Oh, Ok....

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2005 11:14 PM
GNU Arch is a piece of shit.

#

what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 12:54 AM
What if there was a price on open source software (fair market value)? It would be interesting to see how closed source competes. I don't care if open source charges for the source code in camels and chickens.

BK is better than anything out there and Linus is a technical guy - so he chose the best. I now believe that people running Linux aren't doing it because of any technical advantages of having access to source - it's because you guys are too FUCKING CHEAP.

BitKeeper was a "linux" company - they developed and sold software designed for LINUX and now you've found a way to drive them out of business.

Jeez Tridge, there's a million other things to do for Linux than hacking BK. Why the fuck couldn't you let LM/BK live (after all it worked great for 3 years!). How would you like it when someone fucks with your livelihood?

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Re:what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 01:01 AM
I think you're missing the "religious" aspect of the argument. This isn't just about money. This is Beer vs Speech. Tridgell apparently doesn't believe in using Beer Free software. That is his decision to make, and you can't really fault him for that. I can't believe that BitMover(and/or Linus) never saw this coming. How many other proprietary systems have been reverse engineered and/or rewritten using free software replacements?

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Re:what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 01:14 AM
"What if there was a price on open source software (fair market value)? It would be interesting to see how closed source competes. I don't care if open source charges for the source code in camels and chickens."

There is a price. The vendor waives the cost.

"BK is better than anything out there and Linus is a technical guy - so he chose the best. I now believe that people running Linux aren't doing it because of any technical advantages of having access to source - it's because you guys are too FUCKING CHEAP."

So you would rather pay whatever the cost of the software is rather than shop around?

Stay away from my checkbook.

"BitKeeper was a "linux" company - they developed and sold software designed for LINUX and now you've found a way to drive them out of business."

They are still in business. They don't support a "free" copy of BK any longer.

You can still use BK to develop open-source software. You just have to pay for it.

"Jeez Tridge, there's a million other things to do for Linux than hacking BK. Why the fuck couldn't you let LM/BK live (after all it worked great for 3 years!). How would you like it when someone fucks with your livelihood?"

Just like you and other posters on this forum who would like to constrain his activities?

Are you the person who bitches that doctors and lawyers make too much money? Who are you to dictate what people work on or how much they get paid for it?

It isn't called a free market for nothing, pal. Tridgewell used his intellectual freedom in a way that pisses you off. Boo hoo.

I'm sure this rant is well worn in Sun's front offices as well. "Why can't that Torvalds guy stick to writing stuff that doesn't compete with us. WHAAA!! WHAAA!!"

Freedom doesn't come cheaply.

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Re:what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 01:47 AM
All I got to say read up on PearPC vs CherryOS. When your open source gets reverse engineered into a proprietary product boo-fucking-hoo - CherryOS stole open source.

Look up the word hypocracy.....will ya?

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Re:what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:06 AM
The PearPC source was not reverse engineered, it was copied illegally.

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Re:what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:09 AM
There is a difference between reverse engineering and ripping off. CherryOS was PearPC with some changed graphics. A reverse engineered PearPC implementation might share some of it's overall design, but would not share code. Reverse engineering involves ripping apart a device to find out how it works, and then building a new device based on what was learned from dismantling the existing one. It does not involve the direct duplication of the item.

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Re:what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:26 AM
A license violation is a license violation. The problem is, people here are ingenious at coming up with excuses and irrelevant distinctions.

When it's *your* livelihood at stake and you've got the law on your side, I'll bet you'll start caring that the law gets enforced.

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Re:what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:37 AM
"A license violation is a license violation."

Well, the point made here by Tridge seems to be that he did not violate the licence, since he didn't use BitKeeper, and never agreed to the license in the first place.

That said, illegaly copying PearPC is a violation of COPYRIGHT LAW, while the reverse-engineering is at best a violation of a contract (which Tridge never signed, so it's difficult to see why it should be valid.) This is not an "irrelevant distinction"!

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Re:what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:45 AM
"A license violation is a license violation."

Not if you never used the software.

Do you actually *read* the articles?

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Re:what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:11 AM
"All I got to say read up on PearPC vs CherryOS."

Why read up when I can use it?

And I do....

"When your open source gets reverse engineered into a proprietary product boo-fucking-hoo - CherryOS stole open source."

And got caught. What is your point?

"Look up the word hypocracy.....will ya?"

I already know the meaning *hypocrisy*, but am finding it difficult to apply it to this situation.

Perhaps you don't know the word 'analogy', or know how to select an appropriate one.

Trigell did not 'steal' BK's technology. He has been working on a way for people to access BK trees without using BK.

Do you use Samba? If you do then perhaps you are more familiar with the term hypocrisy than your spelling implies.

#

Re:what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:53 AM
Maybe you come from a country where every business has the "right" to exist and be protected in its existance... but in America it is a dog-eat-dog marketplace. Even moreso in the software biz because of the Open Source revolution. Appropriate solutions, clean code, and security be damned.. it's the one who sells the most that wins (*cough*MS*cough*).

I bet that if the CEO of a California sunglasses company reviewd the BitKeeper product and operations he would say "why are you spending so much money on development when you should be _advertising_ (and selling)?"

#

Re:what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 05:18 AM
> Maybe you come from a country where every business has the "right" to exist and be protected in its existance... but in America it is a dog-eat-dog marketplace.

FUCK YOU!. BK is a 10 man company and they work hard to develop products for Linux. You can hardly equate them to a money grubbing company like IBM.

Yes LM has a right to make money - who the fuck are you or Tridge to take his work and drive him out of business.

I know why you GPL nazis are out in force aginst BK/LM - you've got a good thing going by getting (or should I say egging) developers to develop free software - while you make money hand over fist "selling" open source. You have to keep the status quo going on because as soon as open source developers realize that they are the ones at the losing end your gravy train is over and imagine having to pay for software - like EVERY THING IN LIFE!.

WAKE UP OPEN SOURCE DEVELOPERS.....getting a pat on the back from free loaders and ruining someone else's livilhood isn't fucking NOBLE at all.

It's not that Tridge was doing reverse engineering, it's that he was going to open source it and destroy all value in BK. If Tridge was going to charge money for his product, I have no problems with "reverse engineering for the sake of interoperability" - that's how the rest of the world competes - car manufacturers compete by reverse engineering but they never give their products away for free to roil a market for their competitors. As I said, even if the GPL nazis demand that you pay them in bottle caps, it's something that you would have to go and get - say 100 bottle caps for using Gnu Emacs implies you'll have to buy 100 bottles of coke and consume them and then send the bottle caps to RMS. You still have a thing called "MONEY" that has to be spent.

#

Re:what if?

Posted by: beoba on April 12, 2005 03:07 PM
Calm down.

If BK can't compete, that's their problem, and it's up to them to deal with it.

By your definition, I am a "free loader" for using Firefox rather than paying for a copy of Opera.

#

Re:what if?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2005 02:13 PM
BK is a 10 man company and they work hard to develop products for Linux.

They are free to stop any time, I'm not forcing them.

#

There is and your talking out of your behind

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 05:09 AM
"What if there was a price on open source software (fair market value)?"

<a href="http://www.dwheeler.com/sloc/" title="dwheeler.com">http://www.dwheeler.com/sloc/</a dwheeler.com>

3 gigabuck please<nobr> <wbr></nobr>....

"It would be interesting to see how closed source competes."

They dont , the SOFTWARE WAR IS WON AND OVER , and we crushed them entirely.

"How would you like it when someone fucks with your livelihood?"

Well before SCO , Linus would not even add considered the problem ( lets say for the sake of argument that he whas completely and uterly clueless about the ramification ) , now that he as spent a bit of time defending himself against such things he kinda get it that bitkeeper will be a bigger problem donw te road.

Now most GNU/Linux company are worth over 1 million. Bitkeeper people dont whant to play by our rule : GNU/GPL. They loose.

Where not cheap bastard , bitkeepper enjoyed a lunch wich should have never have been there's and by now the arguments that GNU/GPL is not viable is a lie<nobr> <wbr></nobr>...

#

Re:There is and your talking out of your behind

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 07:00 AM
What if there was a price on open source software (fair market value)?"

<a href="http://www.dwheeler.com/sloc/" title="dwheeler.com">http://www.dwheeler.com/sloc/</a dwheeler.com>

3 gigabuck please<nobr> <wbr></nobr>....


Forget the kernel!. I'm talking about an app. Howmuch would K3B or GnomeMeeting cost me if I wanted to make a closed source version?. I can surely say that K3B is probably worth about 100K since it's just a front-end to cdrecorder. But let's say I've the option of going to Nero and paying them 1 million to license their recording engine. So how much for K3B to allow me to make a proprietary product?

Let's be fair here....I'm willing to pay fair market value - not some trumped up valuation for Linux that has Linus and all the kernel devs making $1million salary. I can find someone in Bangalore that's about 80% of Linus and pay him $30K/year.

Software wars aren't won and over. Everything is cyclic - first software was free then became proprietary- now it's going free again - soon people realize that they can't sustain and OSS will go proprietary - trust me - there will come a day when open source developers realize that they have to charge money or they go hungry because all free software products can be taken to India and modified for the fraction of the cost OSDL pays Linus or Andrew Morton or Tridge!.

#

Re:There is and your talking out of your behind

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 08:34 AM
Everything is cyclic - first software was free then became proprietary- now it's going free again - soon people realize that they can't sustain and OSS will go proprietary - trust me - there will come a day when open source developers realize that they have to charge money or they go hungry because all free software products can be taken to India and modified for the fraction of the cost OSDL pays Linus or Andrew Morton or Tridge!.

You know, I don't agree......

I make my living expanding FOSS. I can make decent money at it. The fact is, you can't take everything to India, and what makes you think that the proprietary software companies aren't going to be the first to send the programming jobs there?

So programmers are going to go hungry with proprietary software, but they bring the service aspect to the FOSS world which cannot be effectively internationalized. I.e. would you pay $5 more for a tech support call to speak to someone in the US instead of India? How about 20% more?

Would you pay 50% more for someone who can go onsite on short notice?

The answer in all cases is "it depends." But when you need it, you can't outsource it to India!

#

Re:There is and your talking out of your behind

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 09:13 AM
I make my living expanding FOSS. I can make decent money at it. The fact is, you can't take everything to India, and what makes you think that the proprietary software companies aren't going to be the first to send the programming jobs there?

I can take open source software and have code jockeys in India modify it for me and the original developer loses out on any possible chance that I may come back to him for Widget frosting. I cannot take someone's "closed" source software and have it modified for me. I'd have to pay them money to make changes.

YOU, my friend, are a middle man - know nothing execpt to leech off other people's work. WHY DON'T YOU OFFER YOUR TIME AND SERVICES FOR FREE? After all the developer of the open source software gave you his time and effort for free.


 

#

--- Wrong

Posted by: Jeremy Akers on April 13, 2005 08:35 AM

I can take open source software and have code jockeys in India modify it for me and the original developer loses out on any possible chance that I may come back to him for Widget frosting.


Wrong.



Go ahead and try. In fact, shut the hell up and go do it if it's so easy. You need to read the GPL... If you take someone's code, hire a code jockey in India to 'modify' it, and start distributing it, then everyone who receives the modified version receives the new code your 'code jockey' added, and is allowed to make his own changes on top of anything you tried to 'steal' from him. You can't steal from open source unless your new version does not comply with the GPL. (Which would be illegal.)



So go ahead. The original developer will benefit by being able to take your changes, and apply them back to his own product, on top of his own changes. You spend the money on those code jockey's, and he gets better code. Thanks.



Also, the 'code jockey' you refer to is probably very skilled at turning out lots of lines of code, but only if they are basic copy-paste type lines of code. Companies are quickly discoverying that outsourcing code is only a good idea if the code to be written is very basic and does not require any advanced programming skill. Your cheap labor/code jockeys are taught to be able to put out alot of code fast, but they do not have the training to actually develop advanced algorithms. People with that kind of training are going to cost about the same no matter where you go.

#

Re:There is and your talking out of your behind

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 10:17 AM
"Forget the kernel!. "

Go read the site again<nobr> <wbr></nobr>...

"Howmuch would K3B or GnomeMeeting cost me "

I can sell you a free copy for 1 gazzilion dollars pay up<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... but it stay free.

"So how much for K3B to allow me to make a proprietary product?"

why would you make a proprietary product ?

"Let's be fair here...."

Ok ,

"I'm willing to pay fair market value "

its free<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... fair market value for proprietary you mean go ask the software maker and meet there price anyone can dual license there product. Good luck finding people to buy your product.

"not some trumped up valuation for Linux that has Linus and all the kernel devs making $1million salary."

interesting<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... you dont seem to have data backing up your affirmations.

"I can find someone in Bangalore that's about 80% of Linus and pay him $30K/year."

Do it<nobr> <wbr></nobr>...

"Software wars aren't won and over."

Yes they are<nobr> <wbr></nobr>...

"first software was free then became proprietary-"

No , first open source , then proprietary , now free as in freedom<nobr> <wbr></nobr>...

" trust me "

how far ?

"there will<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... OSDL pays Linus or Andrew Morton or Tridge!. "

Ho no reality come chiming in and people realise that nothing is actually easy to do , if you can do it and you got people buying your product more power to you<nobr> <wbr></nobr>...

Until then Linus gave is product away and under a free license and its making billions everyday<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... good luck achieving that.

#

Cheap? Yes. Is that the reason? No

Posted by: Preston St. Pierre on April 12, 2005 01:28 PM
Yes, I'm cheap. Is that the reason I use GNU/Linux? Not at all. I have never paid for a copy of Windows, so it is essentially free to me as well. Yet I choose not to use it.

Now that we have shown how wrong blanket statements are, perhaps you'd like to re-word your post so you don't come off sounding like such a raving lunatic? Perhaps not. You're just a troll.

#

Re:Cheap? Yes. Is that the reason? No

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 07:55 PM
Anybody who disagrees substantively with the free software philosophy is wrongheaded, a troll, a raving lunatic, or worse.

#

Re:Cheap? Yes. Is that the reason? No

Posted by: Preston St. Pierre on April 13, 2005 07:46 AM
Thanks for making my point easier by acting so immature about it. You are, of course, utterly wrong by saying that, and even more wrong by implying that it is what I meant.

What I said was that the grandparent poster might want to rephrase his post so he doesn't come off as a raving lunatic. At the moment, he does. He makes a supposition about the ENTIRETY of the GNU/Linux community. Pretty much ANYTHING ANYONE says about an ENTIRE community is wrong, unless it is the very basis by which the community is formed - which, in this case, it isn't. He thereby made himself look like a raving lunatic.

Now, if he had said:
"I believe the reason many GNU/Linux users use GNU/Linux is because they do not wish to pay for the software."

That would have 1) Been mostly true, 2) Not been a troll, and 3) Made him come off as somewhat logical instead of a raving lunatic.

Anything else to say, oh argumentative anonymous one? Because if so I'd kindly ask you get some facts straight instead of being sarcastic and not giving anything substantial.

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Is BK asserting privilege over their protocol?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 01:31 AM
I confess some ignorance regarding exactly how BK works. However, I don't understand how Tridge could make a tool to work with BitKeeper without reverse engineering. McEvoy says he has no problems with making tools that interoperate with BK, but it does not sound like BitMover makes proper documentation available to do it WITHOUT reverse engineering. So, is BK actually just asserting some kind of trade secret status to their protocol? If so, that's just silly.

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Re:Is BK asserting privilege over their protocol?

Posted by: qnetter on April 12, 2005 02:31 AM
The question is this: is inspection of a system's DATA FORMAT, without inspection of the code itself or even use of the code itself, the sort of reverse-engineering that is subject to license restrictions? And is there a difference between whether you get a schema for the data format or if you have to imply one from observation of multiple managed data sets?

If you give me copies of ten MySQL databases, and I write a database manager that can manage them, am I violating something?

Reductio ad absurdum: am I allowed to write an alternate "passwd" command, since I can look at a passwd file and identify the fields in it?

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BitMover is happy for Tridge to develop a tool

Posted by: Leon Brooks on April 12, 2005 10:34 AM
However, BitMover is unhappy to have Tridge use their file formats etc.

This implies that BitMover is happy to see competition, but not binary compatibility: ie, they would expect Tridge to use his own file formats etc.

IMESHO this is bass-ackwards. BM should be happy to be "the original and best" in an exploding market, rather than one of many balkanised CMS options competing head-on.

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McVoy is the culprit.

Posted by: r55 on April 12, 2005 01:36 AM
He has been very narrow minded, let us see how will his product progress without active usage*


I just hope McVoy will get mad being overjoyed with the result of his dumb tactics.



* I believe Linus Torvalds was the only sane guy using it.


PS: Reverse engineering is not stealing one's intellectual property, it is actually complementing the code's creator of, the intellect that they lack.

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Talk to IBM

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 01:59 AM
They've had some really good source control tools over the years. They might be in a mood to open source something that could fit the bill nicely. The worst thing that could happen is that nothing they have is suitable, or they aren't prepared to release it yet as open source.

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Re:Talk to IBM

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 03:33 AM
I sure hope you do not mean the ex-Rational SCM tools. They suck big time!

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Re:Talk to IBM

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 05:43 AM
By ex-Rational Tools you probably mean Rational ClearCase.>


They suck big time!



    Sure that's objective statement. But it does bring up the point that while I'm sure Bitkeeper is good, and seems to have been customized to suit Linus, it certainly is not the only source control game in town by any means, it's actually a pretty competitive field.

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Re:Talk to IBM

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 10:16 AM
ClearCase is an excellent tool which I've used in more than one job (and loved), although it's completely inappropriate for the Linux kernel.

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IBM uses BitKeeper

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 06:48 AM
and does not have any SCM tools in development.

The sad thing is a lot of the kernel workers from commercial firms -- like IBM -- use BitKeeper. Will they stop using it? No. Will be a parallel kernel development process that doesn't include folks like Tridge? That's the word.

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Re:IBM uses ClearCase

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 05:39 PM
enough said

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No surprise in this news

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:42 AM

People told Linus a long time ago that going with proprietary software for something as important as source control was a bad idea. He is not infallible, you know. I believe he got this decision wrong.


Slightly more surprising is the range of reactions to the news. Some people seem to think that Tridge did something wrong. Perhaps they will stop using OpenOffice and go back to using MS Office? (OO.o reverse-engineered<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.doc and<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.xls files). Or stop using cheap printers, which work under Linux solely because somebody deciphered their data protocols without permission? In view of their limited capacity for logical thought, I think that trying to explain to them the difference between reverse engineering and what Tridge did is a waste of time.

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Re:No surprise in this news

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 11:14 AM
There's "Wrong" in the sense of morally/ethically wrong, which I doubt that was. Then there's "wrong" in the sense of doing something rather impolitic and poorly timed that causes problems for others.

I know nothing about this and sure as hell won't be making any judgemnents (what right have I anyway?), but that's my view on the more general question.

What surprises me the most is that so many people are willing to leap to conclusions, and that so many feel that they have the right to judge the folks involved in this (with so little information, and at all).

--
Craig Ringer

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Re:No surprise in this news

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 11:25 AM
That's a fair argument. But I think there's still a difference between reverse engineering<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.doc files and what Tridge did. MS still profits indirectly from programs that use their file formats. It's a double-edged sword -- IMHO it's still better than paying for MS Office, but using using Open Office to read, modify, and save to MS Office file formats still solidifies MS standards and protocols, which still brings income to MS, eventually, It's only just a few steps removed from using a pirated copy of MS Office under Wine. But is the same true for reverse engineering BK? I'm not so sure. It seems like the Linux kernel is the holy grail of open source, and those who are interested in reverse-engineering BK really want to replace the BK format altogether, standards and protocols be damned. I think McVoy has legitimate reasons to be concerned. It's not like Larry's software is a value-added service like iTunes software or MS Office or companies that manufacture printers, who offer their proprietary software/drivers for a monetary (or otherwise anti-open-source) price to be able to access their already-bought-and-paid-for assets worry-free of bugs or crashes. BK is basically a stand-alone product, and if someone replaces it completely, they're out of income.

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Re:No surprise in this news

Posted by: andrecaldas on April 18, 2005 05:18 PM


You are kidding, right?

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Reverse engineering, BIOS and IBM

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 02:44 AM
For those young guys in the computer world and cannot remember the PC history... If the IBM PC had not been reverse-engineered (a case that IBM lost because it was a cleanroom implementation), then we would not have this discussion at all. Please remember that.

There is nothing wrong with reverse-engineering. However, a proprietary SW firm wants to make money from software. The trick is to have good marketing (MS has had the best for a long time) and a product noone else has (to some extend). As long as you can prevent the commodity side of your product, then you are ruler when you know how to market your stuff. Once a the product becomes a commodity (think samba), then marketing does little help because cheaper than cheap is not possible.

The reaction in this case IMO shows that everything is done to prevent commoditizing BK. Linus himself says that a few years might pass before a sufficient replacement would/could be available (on technical grounds!). This time can make Bitmover a lot of money, as long as BK is not commoditized.

In short, it is all about money.

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your memory is faulty

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 06:50 AM
"If the IBM PC had not been reverse-engineered"

It wasn't. IBM openly released the specs to the BIOS in the original PC. In the manual, no less.

You're repeating a bad urban myth.

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Re:your memory is faulty

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 05:12 PM
Actually the earlier poster is right. IBM's specs were not enough to provide for full compatibility with software that had started to use information stored by the IBM BIOS (e.g. at paragraph 0x040).

Someone (I can't remember if it was Compaq or Phoenix, but I think the former) set up two teams, one to reverse-engineer the BIOS and document it more fully, and another separate team to code a new BIOS from the first team's specs. The teams were divided by a chinese wall so that the team doing the coding had never reverse-engineered the code themselves.

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Re:your memory is faulty

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2005 04:07 AM
IBM's specs were not enough to provide for full compatibility with software that had started to use information stored by the IBM BIOS (e.g. at paragraph 0x040).

Yes they were, in fact they were more than enough. IBM published the entire source code of the BIOS in the manual for the original IBM PC.


IIRC, the reverse-engineering accomplished by Phoenix involved 2 teams, who were not allowed to talk to each other. Team 1 read the BIOS code, and wrote a specification of what it did, in purely functional terms - i.e. what a BIOS had to do, to be compatible, including key addresses like 40h. Team 2 took the spec, and wrote a BIOS. The result was a BIOS that did not violate IBM's copyright, yet was fully compatible.

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Re:your memory is faulty

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2005 05:27 AM
And that is exactly what it is. A reverse-engineered BIOS in a cleanroom implemetation. BTW, IIRC it was Compaq who took the first heat of the fight.

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It costs money to create new products

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 03:54 AM
The reverse-engineering issue is not a simple good vs evil argument. There are valid pros & cons to both sides of the argument.

I think Linus is handling it in the best possible manner given the unfortunate circumstances.

Whether your are pro or anti reverse-engineering, I urge you to use your brain and objectively THINK about all the pros & cons from both positions.

A good clue that you are a dogma-recycling zombie is when you utterly fail to come up with at least one valid & important argument in favor of the other side's position.

If you are pro reverse-engineering and cannot think of any valid, important benefits to reverse-engineering, then please wake up and educate yourself by learning how reverse-engineering has or can benefit the world (think about important products that are no longer supported, etc).

If you are anti reverse-engineering and cannot think of any valid, important benefits to prohibiting reverse-engineering, then please wake up and educate yourself by learning how reverse-engineering has or can harm the world (think about reduced R&D investment for medicine, startup funding, etc).

If we get enough people to stop being mindless zombies, we might be able to come up with pragmatic solutions that give the the most benefits while avoiding the most disadvantages.

We should incent inventors and their investors in some manner so they expend the time, energy and money to create new, non-trivial inventions. And at the same time, allow others the freedom to compete. These two goals sometimes conflict, but we should be smart enough to find a solution.

If inventors & investors lose the (financial/recognition) incentive to expend non-trivial resources, then there will be nothing worthwhile to reverse-engineer in the future! And that would be tragic.

This is the problem the patent system attempts to solve, but is failing miserably at executing. For the patent system to work:
1. the duration needs to be shortened to 10 years max (which means inventor gets 6-7 years of monopoly in exchange for FULLY & ACCURATELY disclosing to the public how to create his invention)
2. a LOT more resources should be given to patent examiners so that:

    2a. bullshit patents with prior art do not get issued by mistake

    2b. bullshit patents that fail to describe the invention in ENOUGH DETAIL so that others can build it without UNDUE experimentation do not get issued by mistake (this is an actual criteria most people don't know about)

    2c. valid patents should be issued within 1 year of application, rather than 3-4 years it takes now.

    2d. there should be a 6 month 'inventor cannot sue anyone' period in which the public can submit evidence of prior-art to invalidate the patent after it has been issued and before anyone gets threatened by it. it is better for the public to review ISSUED patents rather than APPLICATIONS due to massive volume--this no-sue period of public review/comment is a perfect solution.

Again, if the patent doesn't disclose the new invention in enough detail for others of average skill to make it (which makes reverse-engineering unecessary) then the patent SHOULD NOT GET ISSUED (according to current USA patent regulations).

Everybody wins. Inventors get short-term monopoly in exchange for creating and fully disclosing their inventions.

#

Problems with the patent system

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 04:56 PM
The biggest problem with the patent system is that government owned/supported corporations/entities just ignore them so small creative companies have their ideas stolen and receive no reward for disclosure.

In all honesty the old Soviet patent system worked better. Genuine inventors were awarded a fat fee by the examiners, and then anybody could use the idea.

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Re:It costs money to create new products

Posted by: andrecaldas on April 18, 2005 05:28 PM

I think Linus is handling it in the best possible manner given the unfortunate circumstances.



I wonder why everybody talks about Linus as if the guy was some sort of "open-source-god". Linus is just an apolitical free-software developer.




Please, Joe: stop trying to hide the political issues behind free-software by using this "apolitical open-source image" of Linus.

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McVoy is telling the actual reason too: too expens

Posted by: JelleB on April 12, 2005 04:02 AM
...ive

This thing is not about tridge reverse engineering BK at all. That code has not been released yet. They state the real reason themselves: it was too expensive to maintain a free and a non-free version.

BK had their free publicity/endorsement en sold a lot of licences because of that. Nowhere has McVoy showed gratitude for that. But somehow he has the right to complain when somebody does something that they are legally entitled to.

He just needed a scapegoat to be able to pull the free bk version.

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Re:McVoy is telling the actual reason too: too exp

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 04:46 AM
Both you and I are free to complain about corporations using GPL software without abiding by the terms of GPL, why the double standards when it comes to commercial license?

BK, like most software, is licensed, not sold.

That means you must agree to the terms of the license in order to use it. Just like GPL.

If you don't like the terms, then don't use it. The terms state that you agree not to reverse-engineer.

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Re:McVoy is telling the actual reason too: too exp

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 05:06 AM
Not to sound like a broken record, but nothing in the GPL requires you to accept the license to use the software. The preface even states that up-front. You only need to accept the GPL if you wish to distribute copies of a program covered by it. Sections 0 and 5 talk about this specifically. Without accepting the GPL, you are only bound by copyright law, which does not care about use, only duplication.

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Re:McVoy is telling the actual reason too: too exp

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 07:00 PM
Indeed one is forced to consider this a somewhat likely possibility; sharp eyes there.

#

Advertising

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 06:46 AM
There goes the best free advertising that BitMover could buy!

I'm sure quite a few people are aware of BitKeeper only because of Linus & Linux.

#

that may be, but...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 10:45 AM
It's a fallacious argument to say that it's OK to do something illegal, or in violation of your employer's contract, because "we're really doing them a favor". Obviously they don't agree, otherwise they would've written the contract differently, or given you an explicit waiver of terms. Of course, the same argument often comes up in the context of illegal file sharing.

Suppose my kid beat up yours every day on the playground. I could say that we're toughening up your kid, teaching him not to grow up to be a wimp. Hey, we're helping you guys out! And maybe you're an incompetent moron for not realizing it.

#

Re:that may be, but...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 10:37 PM
Your kid cannot beat another kid because law does not allow it. Now, license has provisions that may or may not go against the law. Close your eyes on provisions that go against the law. So, what about "not-compete" close? Is it lawfull at all? Can a lawer tell? Or should a judge tell? The fact that this close sits in many licenses does not make it lawfull. Remember.

#

Go Tridge!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 01:05 PM
Tridge, don't listen to Larry and Linus - there is nothing wrong with reverse engineering. Larry is full of shit, as usual. Let him take his precious BK and shove it up his arse.

This serves Linux development process and Linus quite right. Using a piece of proprietary software to develop a GPL-ed kernel. Nonsense! Hopefully Linus can learn a thing or two about freedom from this (not holding my breath).

#

Isn't it ironic?...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 03:36 PM
"What Larry is _not_ fine with, is somebody writing a free replacement by just reverse-engineering what _he_ did."

That is just pure hypocracy. No one does more reverse engineering, than those who restrict it with their licenses. Real networks did it on Apples DRM, and Microsoft even has howtos on their site!. So to you Larry; Stop crying and wake up and smell the coffee...<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;)

"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.""

Lets just call it a standpoint. Calling it a *moral* standpoind, is maybe taking it a little too far...<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;) There is absolutely nothing dishonest about reverse engineering. Its a perfectly acceptable, and sometimes even nececary method for interoperability for instance. But before this nonsence goes too fare, maybe we should remember that if he didn't use BK, the license ofcourse doesn't have a rats a** effect on what he can and can't do!...<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;)

"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."

What the license says is more like, stop trying to compete with us. The BK license is among the most absurd, in the unfree software paradigm. And thats even with some tough competition...<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;)

#

not a tragedy

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 05:40 PM
There are many usefull proprietary tools not available to Open Source community. BK is just another example. It is something one learns to live with, eventualy.

DG

 

#

Its about time.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 12, 2005 09:02 PM
Tridge was absolutly within his right to reverse engineer the format. (Not that its a very complex format). This problem has been fortold from day 1. At some point people want control over their data. BK was trying to keep it locked away. Sorry, but that kind of bussiness is going to die in the long run. The software was never a gift. It was a hight interest loan and Tridge got tired of paying it.

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Re:Its about time.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2005 05:58 AM
Not only that, Larry McVoy has the entire Free/OSS world to draw code and ideas from- is he claiming he created BitKeeper in a complete vacuum? What a selfish moron. Go, Tridge, go!

#

Did Torvalds really try to stop Tridge?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2005 01:45 PM
McVoy claims Torvalds tried to stop Tridge from developing his free software BitKeeper replacement.

If that is true, it is shameful. Yet another reason why Torvalds should not be looked upon as a leader in the free software movement. Go to him for technical information and guidance on the inner workings of the Linux kernel, but not on the (these days, frankly, more important) political matters in how a social movement ought to be run.

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I was wondering...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2005 06:53 PM
whether Larry had kidnapped Linus' wife and children in order to make him say those things?

#

Took ball home

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 14, 2005 03:26 AM
McVoy simply took his ball home.



Just as Charlie Brown keeps repeating his mistake with Lucy taking away the football at the last minute and therefore Charlie Brown doesn't learn his lesson, Linus had enough sense to use Richard Stallman's GPL along with the GNU toolset, and enabled GNU/Linux to survive Microsoft's onslaught.



Yet, Linus in choosing BK, didn't learn his lesson just like Charlie Brown. The football has been pulled away because someone owns the football and permission is needed to use it, even though the rest of the gang had a large hand in helping to assemble and improve the football.



Had Charlie Brown used a football which the gang had created under Richard Stallman's license, Charlie Brown & gang would be able to continue using that football, with someone else besides McVoy holding it.



Some people get it the first time, some people get it after you explain it a few times to them in simple terms, some people can't get it, and some people refuse to get it because it may show that Richard Stallman is correct.



Any guess which applies in this case?

#

Here's another baseball analogy...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 14, 2005 06:15 AM
one that hasn't been posted 20 times already.

<TT>
Cool, look at this! If I pull this one off, I'll be able to <A HREF="http://i.cnn.net/si/2003/baseball/mlb/specials/postseason/2003/10/14/marlins.cubs.game6.ap/t1_aloufan_all.jpg" title="cnn.net">tell all my friends</a cnn.net>
</TT>

#

Furthermore, Samba is morally wrong, too.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 15, 2005 11:36 PM
Bill Gates 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 file sharing problem on your own, and compete _honestly_. Don't compete by looking at my solution."

#

WTF, over?!?

Posted by: Joe Klemmer on April 18, 2005 07:18 PM
I take a 6 month leave-of-absence from the Linux/open source world and look what happens. Why is it that the whole world isn't happy unless someone is fighting someone else over something that's trivial and easy to understand (if one has a milliliter of common sense)? A license affords one certain rights and privileges. Be it the GPL, BSD or Billy Bob's "rollin' in the hay" license, they all say what you can and can't do with the program you have. The provisions of one license might be idiotic and counterintuitive but they are binding none the less. In this specific case, you can't argue against the BK license and be for the GPL. One of the earlier comments tried to claim that the GPL was different because it only covers the redistribution of the code. That's asinine! The GPL affords certain rights and privileges for that software product. It is immaterial whether they are specific to only one small aspect of the product or cover everything from creation to date. A license is a license. You can't just pick and choose the ones you want to honor and dump all the rest. As long as the provisions of a license do not break the law then they can be as stupid and insane as they want to be. You still have to abide by them.


Bottom line in this situation is this; Linux can no longer use BK (it doesn't matter why). Time to move on. Is Tridge right or wrong? Is McVoy right or wrong? Who gives a fsck! I can tell you this, though. It's a damn good thing that Linus is the person he is. If he were more like any of the GPL zealots or RMS'like then Linux would have died at birth. If Andy Tanenbaum had been RMS then Linux would have never even been conceived.


This is all immaterial now, though. It's done so we need to move on. To spend time and energy flaming all over the place is counterproductive and will only hurt Linux and open source. Get over it and get back to work.

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