Centralized vs decentralized
Posted Mar 30, 2004 2:25 UTC (Tue) by ghudson
In reply to: Centralized vs decentralized
Parent article: subversion 1.0 is released
I just found this comment, and want to raise a few objections.
(1) I wouldn't say Subversion developers "have freely admitted that SVN will never do what BK can do." Some Subversion developers are very keen on having good support for distributed development. (I'm not one of those people, and for all I know, Larry may be right that a tool like SVN can never evolve into a tool as good as Bitkeeper for distributed development. But I don't think it's a foregone conclusion.)
Moreover, the logic here seems a bit simplistic. I could probably name some feature of Subversion that Bitkeeper can't currently match (exporting a repository for read-write via WebDAV, just as a wild guess) and make the same claim in reverse, but that's only important to people who want that feature.
(2) I certainly have my biases (perhaps there should be a disclaimer in the essay in question; I'll think about it), but I have no vested interest in Subversion and work on it only out of personal interest. I would argue that my conclusions about version control systems have led me to contribute to Subversion, not the other way around. I'm also not a very big Subversion evangelist, despite my role in its development; at work, we still use CVS.
(3) "Since switching to BitKeeper, the Linux development pace has gone up by more than 2x, no matter how you measure it" only establishes that BitKeeper is better than manual patch management for projects already organized around the pyramid system. I have no doubt that this is true, but it misses the thrust of my essay. (Also, though my essay mentions the Apache model, there are projects like Mozilla and the *BSDs which have a similar pace of development to Linux, and they do alright with centralized SCM.)
I'll confess to not fully understanding point (4); if it's just about a lack of merge history tracking, that's a known (and hopefully temporary) weakness of Subversion. Merge tracking is not directly related to distributed functionality or the pyramid model, although there are some tie-ins.
The point of my essay is not to denigrate Bitkeeper's quality--on the contrary, everything I hear suggests that it's a very polished product ("polish" being one of those intangible, subjective, and crucially important features of any piece of software). I only question its necessity for open source projects.
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