RMS Right Again

Those of you familar with the Linux Bitkeeper saga know that RMS was very against the move to use bitkeeper to maintain the linux kernel because it forced software developers to use non free software when developing the linux kernel.

Linus Torvalds, who works at OSDL, justified it’s use by claiming it would result in more open source software, not less, and as such it would be a net gain for the open source community.

RMS pointed out this was exactly the difference between free software and open source software, and that Linus was a bad philosophical leader. A lot of other people had concerns with locking up the revision data inside a proprietary database with no way to get it out in case McVoy and the Bitkeeper gang changed the license around last minute or something. Lo and behold, McVoy killed the free version, and the people using Bitkeeper were kind of screwed.

The reason McVoy killed the free version was because Andrew Tridgell, who also works at OSDL, was reverse engineering the protocol so people have an open source client that could access data they had a right to that was locked into a proprietary database. Linus, amazingly, was against this.

Linus:

Larry is perfectly fine with somebody writing a free replacement. He’s told me so, and I believe him, because I actually do believe that he has a strong moral back-bone.

What Larry is _not_ fine with, is somebody writing a free replacement by just reverse-engineering what _he_ did.

Larry has a very clear moral standpoint: “You can compete with me, but you can’t do so by riding on my coat-tails. Solve the problems on your own, and compete _honestly_. Don’t compete by looking at my solution.”

And that is what the BK license boils down to. It says: “Get off my coat-tails, you free-loader”. And I can’t really argue against that.

Apparently, Linus is against Samba, OpenOffice.org, gaim, wine, and PC clones in general. All of these were the result of reverse-engineering a proprietary format or protocol against the wishes of it’s established creator to the detriment of said established creator. I guess they were “free loaders” too.

Reverse-engineering goes on all the time in the Linux Kernel ITSELF. Tons of drivers are created for devices where the hardware manufacturer refuses to help at all, not to mention CIFS support. Maybe this weird stance is due to a blind spot in Linus’ vision. Maybe he can’t see that the reason people had to reverse engineer the protocol was because he himself put data in the proprietary system, and they wanted to be able to access data he was locking up unintentionally.

RMS was right, Linus is a great engineer but a bad role model for open source / free software. It’s too bad Alan Cox isn’t running the show.

2 Responses to “RMS Right Again”

  1. RMS is wrong Says:

    Richard Stallman is an idiot. Those who appreciate him for just a stupid license are stupid too because he likes to force people. I hate people who force other people. If he runs a government, he will most likely have everyone arrested. The guy is a power monger.

  2. Thomas Says:

    Thank you so much! Thanks for posting those sites, I hadn’t heard of them of them beofre!Git Immersion’s GUI-for-Windows link takes you to TortoiseGit. I clicked around in that .once .lol. I’ll start checking those sites out. Thanks for commenting!

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