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Mutual benefit, painful parting, false martyrdom

Mutual benefit, painful parting, false martyrdom

Posted Apr 7, 2005 5:22 UTC (Thu) by jasone (subscriber, #2423)
Parent article: The kernel and BitKeeper part ways

The Linux community benefitted greatly from the change in process that was a result of using BitKeeper. BitKeeper even did a particularly good job of meeting the Linux kernel developers' needs (barring refusal by some to use it).

BitMover benefitted greatly from the testing and user feedback, as well as the PR value of having their product used by Linux kernel developers.

While it lasted, this arrangement had some very positive aspects. Now it's over, and the transition is likely to be painful. It's a disruption to kernel development, and it's very definitely generating some ill will toward BitMover. However, some of the benefits are going to survive. The kernel developers know now that there is a better way of doing things, and BitKeeper is a more solid product than it otherwise would have been.

Over all, everything above sits fine with me. What doesn't sit well is Larry McVoy's repeated attempts to cast himself as a martyr. BitMover benefitted significantly, and his attempts to quantify the value of the exchange as one-sided in purely monetary terms are in my opinion disingenuous interpretations of statistics.

Larry convinced Linus to move beyond tarballs. He had a tangible positive impact on the Linux development process. However, he'd do better from my perspective to simply consider this as a mutually beneficial arrangement that is over. He's not a martyr, no matter how much he feels like one.

Jason Evans

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Mutual benefit, painful parting, false martyrdom

Posted Apr 7, 2005 7:31 UTC (Thu) by jwb (guest, #15467) [Link]

I would tend to agree with everything you wrote, and go further. Any measure of an exchange between a commercial entity and free software development communities which has money as its main focus is plainly fatuous. The free/open software phenomenon is predicated on the idea that the release of the software maximizes the benefit to everybody, or at least a very large group of people. Anyone who contributes does so because they expect to reap that benefit.

Then for anyone to come along, like McVoy, and make themselves a martyr by saying that the Linux community has taken their vast charity stabbed them in the back is ridiculous. McVoy is a rational actor and he made his decision that he was going to contribute BitKeeper and he would reap the benefit of good publicity and, more indirectly, a better Linux kernel. Think how ridiculous it would be if someone like (choosing randomly) Vixie was to come along and pull the plug on, because someone at OSDL was starting up a competing internetworking business, and cry about how he tried to be charitable but look what those two-faced Linux people went and did? That would be absurd, and the present situation is equally absurd.

I'm really a disinterested observer on this topic, since I'm not involved in kernel development, or SCM development. But you can't ignore the shamelessness on display here. I always perceived that the clause in the BK license was intended as an escape for BitMover, and that, given the nature of hackers and hacking, its invocation was inevitable. Now that McVoy has used his escape, and presumably has got what he wanted from his contribution, he shouldn't be acting like the last three years were a unidirectional act of charity.

Mutual benefit, painful parting, false martyrdom

Posted Apr 7, 2005 18:16 UTC (Thu) by coolian (guest, #14818) [Link]

I couldn't agree more.

I own my own company and the PR that this generated has been doubly
fortunate for Larry. It's a genius move in the vein of Microsoft
licensing DOS to IBM.

He got the PR coming *and* going. The martyr part is laughable though,
since nobody really believes it, and it's so...*wink wink*

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