The BitKeeper non-compete clause
Posted Oct 16, 2002 20:47 UTC (Wed) by JoeBuck
In reply to: The BitKeeper non-compete clause
Parent article: The BitKeeper non-compete clause
BM is not giving a gift to the Linux kernel development community. It is making a wise business decision. The only reason you and most other people have heard of BitKeeper is because Linus uses it. That publicity has translated into tons of free advertising, and reviews from publications that otherwise never would have heard of the product.
It is costing BM money to support the kernel hackers who use BK, but again, that's merely a wise investment. Any successful software product needs a set of skilled beta customers to bang on it and help get the bugs out.
Given that the free BK license is not a gift, it makes sense to evaluate its consequences. It's been valuable to Linus, although that value looks greater because before BitKeeper Linus wasn't using any SCM system.
However, there are down sides as well, as more and more kernel hackers find themselves either disqualified from using it or prevented from doing other work that interests them.
Accordingly, it should be seen as only an interim solution. In the long term, as ESR says, open source software gets written to scratch an itch; it would be in Larry and BM's interest to try to make BitKeeper itch as little as possible, otherwise they will only accelerate its eventual replacement.
For example, earlier reports suggested that BM would disqualify all (for example) Red Hat employees from using BK for free if any Red Hat employee worked on any competing SCM project. If they are backing off of that extreme position, it's a wise move.
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