Linus Torvalds defers closed source crunch By Andrew Orlowski in San
Francisco Published Wednesday 6th April 2005 21:44 GMT
Linux founder Linus Torvalds may soon be using a proprietary, closed source
code management tool for Linux kernel development, to the dismay of many in
the open source community. Torvalds today diplomatically postponed his final
decision, explaining that he's taking a week offline, and he says actively
exploring alternatives to the Bitkeeper software that's served as his
primary code management tool in recent years. Torvalds' announcement follows
a decision by Bitkeeper's Larry McVoy yesterday that he would focus on the
proprietary version of the software, orphaning the free client.
It's a crunch for Torvalds. However, if he continues to use Bitkeeper,
according to senior figures who spoke to the The Register on condition of
anonymity, it could severely undermine his authority in the Linux community.
Torvalds' decision to use Bitkeeper effectively obliges hundreds of kernel
developers to follow suit.
Torvalds adopted Larry McVoy's BitKeeper tool for managing submissions to
the Linux kernel three years ago, and this week McVoy said he was phasing
out the free client, hoping to complete the transition by July.
In a press release issued yesterday, McVoy explained that "our commercial
users exceed those using BitKeeper on Open Source projects. Focusing our
energy on our cutting edge commercial products will ensure we maintain our
competitive advantage..." McVoy hardly mollified his critics recently by
branding them "politically correct".
Of course McVoy has said openly that he's discontinuing the "free" client
because an OSDL employee was reverse engineering it (in his free time, see
the article for more), but he couldn't put that in the press release. I
mean, you can understand his POV as a proprietary software developer to some
degree, but then you have to ask the question: Linus is a clever guy, how
could he /not/ see this coming? It's not as if people didn't warn him.
The whole thing would be comical if it weren't for the fact that it could
seriously affect Linux, at the very least slowing development on the kernel
to /some/ degree, at what some might consider one of the most critical
periods of it's lifetime.
And it's not hard to imagine more than a few RMS supporters - you know the
type, the GNU/Linux Correctors, the People's Front of Hurd - smirking
creepily the last couple of days and whispering sweet i-told-you-so's in
each other's ears. (Some will scream NOT FAIR, but it's true all the same.)
It's worth, uh, googlenewsing for more on this topic btw, some of the pieces
I've seen are the best technology coverage I've seen in a /long/ time.
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