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Reiser4 and kernel inclusion

Reiser4 and kernel inclusion

Posted Sep 22, 2005 19:15 UTC (Thu) by cventers (guest, #31465)
In reply to: Reiser4 and kernel inclusion by edomaur
Parent article: Reiser4 and kernel inclusion

Agreed. I am shocked by the volume of people who refuse to use Daniel
Bernstein's software on the grounds that he is an asshole - even though
his software is clearly *very* robust and *very* secure. Hans seems to be
another case of "punish the person by refusing to accept their charity on
its own merits."

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Bernstein is a different beast

Posted Sep 23, 2005 0:25 UTC (Fri) by pm101 (guest, #3011) [Link]

The problem with Bernstein's software is the ultrarestrictive license. It is very robust and very secure, but if Bernstein gets hit by a bus tomorrow, there will be no more updates. More likely, if Bernstein has a philosophical swing of some sort tomorrow, he is free to modify his software appropriately, and you're either stuck with no more updates, have to switch platforms, or have to buy into his new software. He's working on a replacement for the SMTP protocol. Lets say that ten years down the line, 75% of the mail servers out there support it, and he decides to remove SMTP support from qmail to force the remaining 25% to switch. What do you do? Let's say that he decides enough people adopted qmail, and now he wants to make some cash off of it, and the new versions are only available for $1k per seat. What do you do?

Assholes are okay, so long as they use the GPL. Assholes with proprietary licenses are a different beast. I don't want my infrastructure to be dependend on some unstable guy's mood swings. See BitKeeper for an example of what can happen when you do.

Bernstein is a different beast

Posted Sep 23, 2005 11:31 UTC (Fri) by job (guest, #670) [Link]

That is not true. Bernsteins software is not more non-free than Firefox. What would happend if Bernstein is hit by a bus is that his projects would be forked under new names -- just like netqmail is a fork of qmail with more modern functionality.


Posted Sep 23, 2005 13:44 UTC (Fri) by pm101 (guest, #3011) [Link]

This is slightly outside of the scope of this discussion. Nevertheless, I believe I need to be more clear, since the comment posted was factually inaccurate. qmail itself does not come with a license. This is because of djb's philosophy. Given just this, you would be allowed to modify your local copy, but not make copies of the software for others. In addition, he grants rights of redistribution for specific, unmodified versions that he released. They must have the same MD5 checksum.

As a result, it is possible to, for instance, distribute the basic qmail distribution, a minor patch, and some method of combining them, in the way that netqmail does. Nevertheless, it is illegal to distibute binary builds of netqmail, or sources in a format other than the one described above. This practically limits the scope of modifications you can make -- while it is possible to write a better version of diff/patch, at the moment, you cannot rename a file, since then the text of the file would be in the patch. You cannot combine two files, or split a file into two for similar reasons. We can get around some of this with a better version of diff/patch, but there will almost certainly always be limitations to the types of modifications you can make. This also limits how the software may be packaged. It is still non-trivial to patch binaries, so every user must make a local build. You cannot make a standard .deb or .rpm of netqmail (you can do the installer thing some .debs of proprietery software do, that grabs it and compiles at, at the addition of some amount of build time). If you have 50 servers in your location, you cannot install the same hard drive image on all of them if the hard drive image contains netqmail. You must compile each copy of netqmail locally. There are many other similar limitations.

If djb goes off the deep end, or dies, users of his software are SOL. They'll get patches with security fixes for some time, but the software will be fundamentally unmaintainable in the long term.

Bernstein is a different beast

Posted Sep 23, 2005 15:39 UTC (Fri) by Ross (guest, #4065) [Link]

The problem is that the license terms are unknown. You could say "well, but it should be ok anyway because everyone can be expected to act reasonably". But that's where his, erm, personality traits, come into play with decision making. Also, while the software is well written and secure, it makes things difficult to do in normal ways (startup scripts, directory layout, etc.).

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