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Re: GNOME DVCS Survey Results

From:  Andrew Cowie <>
Subject:  Re: GNOME DVCS Survey Results
Date:  Tue, 06 Jan 2009 13:10:14 +1100
Message-ID:  <>
Archive-link:  Article

On Sat, 2009-01-03 at 22:46 -0500, Behdad Esfahbod wrote:
> GNOME contributors with an SVN account who had an SSH key installed on
> their account were invited to fill in the survey.

[It is NOT my intention to get all negative here; I understand - and
accept - that projects make decisions and not everyone is happy with
them. Luckily this decision ultimately is one I can ignore.
Nevertheless, I have been asked by a number of people to write to this
thread with why I am so dissatisfied. I do appreciate the effort people
made, even if I feel that the way the whole survey exercise was
conducted it was impossible for Git to lose]

Some comments:


It's a shame that hackers who contribute to GNOME projects which don't
use were excluded.

        (I was told their opinions didn't matter. {shrug} that's fine,
        so long as nobody tries to represent this survey as "what GNOME
        hackers think")


It was also a shame that I (one who does happen to have a GNOME svn
account) was not able to complete the survey either because it crashes
Epiphany when you i) vote for bzr and ii) withhold your vote from git,
hg, and svn.

        (When I asked if it might be possible to fix the survey so that
        GNOME's web browser didn't crash, I was told "known bug" and
        "too bad, you have to express a preference for Git and Mercurial
        even if you don't want to". Strange take on democracy. I am
        rather accustomed to the idea that declining to express a
        preference for something is an acceptable form of voting.

I explicitly did not want to chose Git or Mercurial, because I knew
exactly what was going to happen. I've heard it several times already in
#gnome-hackers and elsewhere:

        "so it seems the people who prefer Bazaar like Git as their
        second choice, so surely it's ok to go with that. Great!
        Decision made"

No. The rest of the survey was irrelevant. It was quite evident that the
object of the exercise was to allow people to say "lots of people said
Git was either their first or second choice" which sounds very
impressive, and was exactly the one thing I did NOT want to support.

So it crashed my browser. Nice.


We chose the Bazaar decentralized version control system for our GNOME
project even before the people behin GNOME's centralized code hosting
made the courageous and monumental decision to switch from CVS to
Subversion. Since GNOME didn't offer any way for us to host our
'mainline' branch on any official sounding resource, {shrug} we didn't.

And so we don't.

And that's actually the only issue that matters so far as I can tell. No
one can force us to stop using Bazaar. People who work at places like
Immendio who are using Git to hack on GTK+ cannot be forced to stop git

And I wouldn't want them to. They're happy with their tool. We're happy
with ours.

When CVS was the only interchange (actually, that's not true, since the
real interchange for most projects is attachments to Bugzilla of all
things), then indeed "GNOME switching to Subversion" was a big deal.

But in the era of distributed version control, the next step really
matters little. Whatever GNOME _infrastructure_ offers "next" in terms
of hosting is really quite irrelevant, since quite anyone can host their
own projects and publish their own branches with nothing more than a
vanilla web server.

If the choice had happened to be Bazaar, then we probably would have
moved our principle copy of our 'mainline' branch there. That would have
been "nice" but otherwise is inconsequential since hosting the primary
'mainline' somewhere else costs us nothing, and I long since offered
other people accounts to publish their own branches there too. But since
it's going to be Git, well, it offers nothing for us.

If the choice had been the other way around, then Git people would
simply continue to host their branches somewhere else as they already
area. Again, no change.

This is ultimately why the whole debate is a bit pointless.

Regardless, GNOME is not "switching" to anything. If GNOME
infrastructure is going to offer Git hosting, that's lovely for people
who chose to use Git as their version control system. {shrug} fine. If
GNOME infrastructure concurrently disables their Subversion hosting
and/or people stop pushing their changes there, then that's perhaps a
bit worse, because it means people in all three systems (+ svn makes
four) will lose the easy way they have of collaborating. But again,


I will close by saying that switching to Bazaar was an unbelievable
breath of fresh air after so much pain using Git. I wrote about that
briefly here:

I've been using DVCS systems for a long long time. I have great respect
for all the groups who have worked on the 3rd generation tools.
Unfortunately I have no sympathy for Git anymore, and am tired of it
screwing over people trying to use it. I for one I won't be using Git as
a client to anything, and if that prevents me from contributing, well,
that's not anyone's problem but mine.

Meanwhile, regardless of whatever GNOME infrastructure does, don't think
you need to use any system other than one you want to for your own work.
I would encourage you to use Bazaar, but you go right ahead and use
whatever you want. Open Source is about choice, and in your own work, no
one can tell you "no".

You don't need a to use a just because certain others may
be doing so, and likewise you don't need to lament a lack of a The choice of tool is up to you, and you can host your
work anywhere you want. I encourage you to do so.

$ bzr merge


Andrew Frederick Cowie

Operational Dynamics is an operations and engineering consultancy
focusing on IT strategy, organizational architecture, systems
review, and effective procedures for change management: enabling
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