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November 29, 2001
From: Leandro Guimarães Faria Corsetti Dutra <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: GNU-Darwin for the x86 Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2001 13:16:19 -0200 "The battle to rename it GNU/Linux has not gone all that far, and resentment remains. The same spirit that causes FSF developers to push forward with HURD development also draws their attention to other, non-Linux alternatives." Attribution of motives and sentiments is never good journalism. The FSF and the GNU project supporters feels that calling GNU/Linux just Linux does a disservice to the philosophical struggle for free software, and it is hoped that the Hurd will be a superior kernel to the GNU system. But never in RMS writings or in anything published by the FSF or GNU project developers I've seen resentment towards whomever call GNU/Linux just Linux. And the naming issue was never the reason behind the development of the Hurd; instead, it is believed that the microkernel with multiple servers architecture of the Hurd will make for a more flexible kernel for developers, testers and users, enabling the Hurd to progress more quickly and orderly than the Linux kernel after the Hurd reaches critical mass and a stable release. Please please please don't put words in other people's mouths. -- _ / \ Leandro Guimarães Faria Corsetti Dutra +55 (11) 5685 2219 \ / http://homepage.mac.com./leandrod/ +55 (11) 9406 7191 X Orange Telecom +55 (43) 322 89 71 / \ Fita ASCII contra correio eletrônico HTML BRASIL
From: Mark Bainter <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Editorials Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2001 00:04:23 -0600 I appreciated the editorial regarding sourceforge. Particularly since it brings to voice concerns I've had privately of late. Not only for sourceforge, but also for freshmeat. Both of which are extremely valuable resources to the open source community. Having not only one in a precarious position like that, but both worries me and smacks of poor design. But as you said, it's not like there is a line of companies looking to relieve valinux of the burden they have so gladly (or so it seems to me) born for us. That said, I appreciate all VALinux has done, and is doing for us. I hope I don't sound like an ingrate. ;-) Here's hoping another company steps up to help provide resources to keep sourceforge/freshmeat alive. If we could make their survival independant of any one companies existance I know I'd feel a lot better. However, the Darwin editorial, while interesting and informative at first devolved rather quickly into another annoying whine about GNU/linux. This is a topic that I (and I think many others, though I can only speak for me) am really sick of hearing about. I don't see the people who make the tools used to build cars lining up to whine about their names not being on the cars built with them. I don't see lumber companies complaining because the companies building houses don't include the name of the lumber mill in the name of the subdivision being built. Linux is it's own product. The fact that GNU tools are used to build it, or were used to write it or (the more common argument) are used to build a complete OS generally called "Linux" is really not relevant. I mean, if solaris suddenly started shipping gnu tools as part of Solaris instead of their own would everyone be clamoring to have Solaris renamed to GNU/Solaris? I'm not a big BSD user, but don't at least some of the *BSD distros use gnu tools? Is no-one going to complain that it should be renamed GNU/BSD? Doubtfull. Come on. Most everyone in the linux world knows who GNU is. It's all over the place here, and I think most people do truly appreciate the contributions the GNU foundation has made, and is making. Can't we move on? Hasn't this horse endured enough abuse? It's dead Jim, stop beating it already.
From: Chris Lawrence <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: bug reporting in noncommercial software Date: Thu, 22 Nov 2001 01:52:12 -0600 Cc: Mark Bainter <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Seth LaForge <email@example.com>, David.Kastrup@t-online.de As the author of Debian's reportbug, I'd like to thank Seth for his comments about reportbug in the 11/15 LWN. I'd also like to respond to Mark's comments about bug reporting in general. Mark says that each package should include its own bug reporting frontend. While laudable in theory, this introduces a number of problems: 1. Lots of additional bug reporting tools. On my Debian box, I have bug reporting tools for mutt, libc, KDE, GNOME, and a few other programs. If everyone did it, we'd have a veritable raft of bug reporting tools. 2. Lots of version skew. In the case of mutt, its bug reporting tool is a fork of Debian's "bug" command (reportbug's older, sh-script sibling). If we find bugs in "bug", their fixes have to be propogated over to mutt's tool. 3. No real prescreening of bug reports. Most people get their software through distributions. Probably 1/3 to 1/2 of problems people have with software are distribution-specific issues (why didn't X pull in library Y when I installed it, etc.). If the libc people say "report all libc bugs using glibcbug", they'll get a large number of reports that are Debian's or Red Hat's or SuSE's fault. Mark does raise a valid issue about what sort of information should be included in bug reports. A standard reportbug report includes: - The package and version - The specific file mentioned by the submitter (if specified) - A severity tag used by the BTS and maintainers for triage - The body text written by the user - The output of uname -a and a few locale settings (LANG, LC_CTYPE) - The first-level dependencies of the package, with versions - Any modified configuration files (optional) However, reportbug (and bug) include hooks for allowing them to report additional information about the package. Not many packages take advantage of this, however (perhaps because it's poorly-publicized). This allows what Mark wants: package-specific data collection, or even an interactive troubleshooter. For example, a picture viewer might include a bug script requesting that the user try different X or framebuffer settings, or identify whether the problem only affects certain image formats. reportbug also includes hooks supporting submission to different types of bug tracking system; GNATS support was added for the now-no-longer Progeny distribution, for example. I'll be the first to admit reportbug isn't perfect... it really is newbie unfriendly in places, for example, something I'd like to work on. But it definitely is something a "universal" free reporting tool could be based on, and I'd be happy to add code to separate it from its Debian-centricity (easy enough to do, really... just figure out what distro it's running on and behave accordingly). Chris -- Chris Lawrence <firstname.lastname@example.org> - http://www.lordsutch.com/chris/
From: Richard Kay <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: RMS Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2001 21:08:44 -0500 Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org In http://scriptingnews.userland.com/backissues/2001/11/21 email@example.com wrote: > Do you work really hard to make good software? I do it every day. Does > Stallman push the envelope? I haven't seen any evidence of that. Imho, > the economy is still rewarding the wrong people. At one time if you > pushed for excellence in software, you could build a nice business. I > still believe that. But it's disheartening to see so much money go to > support Stallman's theories. I believe this works against software > breakthroughs, even software progress. Richard Stallman (RMS) has probably done more than anyone to promote software reuse. In this respect his GPL represents one of the most effective works of software engineering ever written. Being able to modify a world-beating functional system (GNU/Linux) to suit my own needs such that I only have to focus on the coding which modifies it to make it suit my own requirements ( e.g. see http://copsewood.net/shared-mailbox/shared-mbox.html ) has largely been made possible by RMS's ground-breaking work. The technical achievements of those working on the Linux kernel and compatible free-software application infrastructure has also been made possible, in no small part, due to RMS's direct work earlier on the GNU C compiler and Emacs editor. There have also been much greater indirect benefits through the improvements for free sofware brought about by the difference between BSD style licenses, which allow for the tragedy of commons arising from the theft and distortion of free software by commercial interests who are obliged to give nothing back, and the GPL which encourages a more open and community-oriented style of software development. > Something to think about. Would the $830K have been better used to > support SourceForge? Probably not. While SourceForge has given practical help to very many projects, there are many willing to host such projects and it is probably undesirable to have too many free-software projects hosted un-mirrored on a single centralised server, subject to whatever legislation a single nation's government and lobbyists might dream up. The potential benefits of promoting free-software are very likely to outweigh supporting what should become a profitable and self-supporting Internet business. It is possible that the same argument could be used to say that supporting free software, if it is as useful as I suggest, could also be carried out on a commercial footing. I have to disagree with this counter-argument, as the moral benefits of free software probably far outweigh the practical and commercial ones, in the sense that free software can act as a potentially liberating and democratising influence in areas other than just ICT, e.g. in areas as diverse as privacy, integrity of electronic voting systems and the ability of musicians, writers and artists to bypass corporate distributors who have traditionally controlled most intellectual property rights. These benefits should not be lost and distorted through legislation sponsored by commercial interests such as the DMCA and SSSCA. The papers which I have written and published on http://copsewood.net/ which are concerned with the potential for a more democratic, sustainable and decentralised society are unlikely to have become possible without the influence which has derived directly from RMS's work. Richard Kay Senior Lecturer/Technologist Technology Innovation Centre, University of Central England, Birmingham, UK.
From: Richard Stallman <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: RMS Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2001 04:48:45 -0700 (MST) Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Thank you very much for speaking up in my defense. I would like to correct one factual point about the prize itself. $830k (actually a little less with current exchange rates) is the total sum. Since it is being shared by three people, I will get 1/3 of that--after taxes, perhaps $170k. It's a nice sum of Hanukkah gelt, and will make a difference for me, but it wouldn't support an organization like Sourceforge for long.
From: "Jay R. Ashworth" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Dave Winer and RMS Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2001 14:03:44 -0500 Well, here we go again... You know, it's funny. Dave Winer used to be one of my favorite people. I was lost in the world of Macintosh, back in 1992 -- I was helping start a cool TV network called MOR Music TV, now, sadly, defunct -- when Frontier was in about release 3.something, and I fell in love with it. Given the lack of a command line on a Mac, Frontier was about the closest you could get, and I liked the outliner-based approach to the whole thing. A lot. Same reason I like Zope -- or I think I would, if it would stop moving long enough for me to figure it out. (Friendly big Zope site administrators cheerfully solicited...) Even though it's one of the best examples of "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail", it worked, and it worked pretty well. And then I actually tried *interacting* with Dave. I wrote to him, having become a regular reader of his Scripting News weblog -- it was even my browser homepage for some time -- and suggested that he might want to look into Linux, and even maybe doing a port of Frontier to Linux. He called me every kind of a mother-fscker, and several I think he made up on the spot. And then, less than a year later... he fell in love with Linux. So it shouldn't be any surprise that I take most of what Dave says with a grain of salt (even though Doc Searls, whose opinions I respect highly, doesn't). But I think that his comments on RMS, quoted in this week's LWN are particularly off base, and I'll tell you why. "It's disheartening," Winer says, "to see so much money go to support Stallman's theories." I disagree -- although you probably had already figured that out by now. I've watched "open source" software for a very long time; I go back to at least 1982 on Usenet, and a bit before that in working with Unix, Xenix, and their ilk. I am right here to tell you that the driving force behind the creation and expansion of large, multi-programmer projects in that arena has been Stallman's General Public License. I can't see anything else that could have made possible projects like perl5 and 6, PostGreSQL 7, and, indeed, the Linux kernel itself -- RMS's insecure grumbling about why it's not referred to as "GNU Linux" notwithstanding... I also spend a fair amount of time working with the HylaFAX (http://www.hylafax.org) fax server software package. Originally written by SGI's Sam Leffler, and mostly maintained by him up til about it's 4.0 release, the package got sort of stagnant for some time. It now has 5 or 6 pretty sharp people working on it, and it's moving along again nicely... but I can't help but wonder: is the reason that it has trouble attracting even more people motivated enough to work on it that it is *not* licensed under the GPL, but rather, under a license roughly equivalent to the BSD license (which doesn't protect potential contributors from commercial entities making off with their hard work without any recompense, credit- or otherwise)? General George C. Marshall, US Army Chief of Staff during WWII, and author of the "Marshall Plan" -- which helped rebuild Europe after the war and gained him a Nobel Peace Prize -- is most generally credited for the observation that "there's no limit to what a man can achieve if he isn't concerned whether or not he gets the credit for it". The GPL is my favorite example of this, with the delightful twist of irony that it works almost precisely by preserving the credit due to those people who write the code released under it -- which is all it preserves. The only person whose credit isn't really that well preserved is RMS's. So, for putting up with 20 or 25 years of the lifestyle engendered by the beliefs that gave us the GPL and, hence, the OS running on the laptop I'm writing this letter on, hell yeah, I think RMS is entitled to the prize he's been awarded. There's nothing wrong with asceticism... except for that class of problems that money is all it takes to fix. --- On a final note, I find it amusing that Winer snipes at Danny O'Brien, of NTK. O'Brien is sitting there, in front of Linus and everybody, asserting that Winer's also done something worth rewarding, and Dave gets pissy over it. Some people just think too much, I think. But who knows; maybe it's just me. So many things are just me. Cheers, -- jra -- Jay R. Ashworth firstname.lastname@example.org Member of the Technical Staff Baylink RFC 2100 The Suncoast Freenet The Things I Think Tampa Bay, Florida http://baylink.pitas.com +1 727 804 5015 "If you don't have a dream; how're you gonna have a dream come true?" -- Captain Sensible, The Damned (from South Pacific's "Happy Talk")
From: Micah Yoder <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Future of SourceForge Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2001 00:58:14 -0500 Hi, There seems to be a sentiment out there that SourceForge is in danger of being shut down by VA Linux. As you said in your 11/22/01 front page, > SourceForge is an expensive gift from VA Linux to the free software > community; if VA continues to bleed cash and continues to move toward > proprietary software, the company will eventually be forced to look at > ending that gift. Frankly, I don't think we have anything to worry about, at least for a couple years. SourceForge (the now proprietary software) is the cornerstone of the new VA Linux business model. They are focusing on selling this software for use in Global 2000 companies. But how are they going to inspire confidence in those companies and sell their software as a solution? How are they going to prove that their main product is useful and scalable? Right! SourceForge.net! In addition to being proof that their primary product works and enterprise-ready, SF.net also ensures that there are thousands (nearly 300,000 actually) of users who are familiar with their product, based on their Open Source work hosted at SF.net. Many of these users will then, supposedly, recommend SourceForge Enterprise to their employers. The bottom line is that VA Linux cannot possibly afford to take SF.net down. It would be suicide! I am therefore convinced that it will be around as long as VA is in business. (Unless they change their business model again, but we won't get into that!) That brings up another question: How long will VA be in business? According to their recent annual report, they had $60 million in cash as of July 28. Granted, they had $123 million a year prior, but 1) they now have fewer employees and 2) last year involved some enormous expenses involving their changed business model. They should be able to last AT LEAST another year without making a dime. But they already have some enterprise customers, and hopefully they will get more this year. So don't worry about SourceForge.net. It won't be disappearing anytime soon. Micah -- Like to travel? http://TravTalk.org Micah Yoder Internet Development http://yoderdev.com
From: "Jonathan Day" <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: The folly of slowing down Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2001 07:59:07 -0800 Dear editors, I have to disagree with Linus Torvalds (gasp!) when he argues that there need to be fewer fundamental changes. The problem is that "stable" code is also stagnant code, which means that as the dependencies age, it becomes "unstable, but intractible" code. This is one of the genuine problems that is half-jokingly referred to as "bit-rot". Of course, the bits don't actually decay with time, but the assumptions on which they are built -do-. And that can kill an OS. What we need are far MORE fundamental changes between stable releases. Keep EVERY element of the kernel alive. If there is a single line of actual code older than a year in the kernel, then someone is being slack. Either the maintainer isn't refining their skill set (and thereby rotting, in themselves), or the code isn't being scrutinised nearly often enough for potential bugs, security holes, etc. Replacing the virtual memory system took over 170 patches, if I understand correctly. Far too many. A sign that the code isn't being actively worked on, nearly enough. Why? Because no sane coder would develop code that hard to maintain, if they were actively thinking about it. You just can't keep track of 170 fragments of code as easily as you can one self-contained unit. IMHO, 2.5.x needs one gigantic, fundamental change, if it is to survive another 10 years. It must be ripped apart, and sewn together, as many times as it takes to seperate out entangled code. (The IPv4/IPv6/IGMP entanglement is positively horrible! IPv6 development is now -years- behind other Linux IPv6 stacks, we STILL don't have IGMPv3, it's not possible to have an IPv6-only box, IPv6 netfilter can't do a quarter of the things IPv4's can, and those are just the problems I've noticed.) The day Linux is allowed to stagnate is the day Linux will die. I know this is personifying it slightly, but oh well. Linux lives to grow, and grows to live. It is, in a sense, a living thing. You feed it and nurture it, it'll thrive. Cut it down, to "preserve" it, and all you have is a dead thing. Is that what we want? Really? Jonathan Day ------------------------------------------------------------ --== Sent via Deja.com ==-- http://www.deja.com/