[linux-elitists] Fwd: Bitkeeper outragem, old and new

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Wed Oct 16 12:34:10 PDT 2002

Quoting Sean Neakums (sneakums@zork.net):

> I can't see Linux developers abandoning BK any time soon.  I believe
> the licensing would have to directly affect kernel development in some
> fashion before that would happen.  Ideological arguments tend not to
> cut much ice with many of those folks.

What Stallman wrote is, as usual, accurate in the recitation of facts
but polemical in where it goes from there.  The controversy really ought
to be publicly FAQed, to reduce the ferocity and bullshit factor of the
recurring flamewars.  I've been considering doing so.

Obviously, for now, McVoy has a compelling proprietary product.  But
keeping an eye on the developing competition (especially arch) would be
useful, as would be documenting all of the various non-bk ways of
getting access to current kernel source and metadata (patched SCCS, 
Rik van Riel's rsyncable exports, bkbits, etc.).  Mention should also be
made of the undeniable fact that non-bk users now have more-frequent
source releases available than they did before BitKeeper, that the
larger controversy concerns the licence for the gratis version (the
"bkl"), that the licensing has been a moving target, and why you can't
just continue to use an old gratis-bk version if you object to a licence

It's a shame that McVoy doesn't post his current-version licences
(neither his "bkl" nor his "bkcl") in public.  I recall that one of the
past flamewars directly resulted from perceived furtiveness on that
point.  In fact, to my knowledge, the only way to examine that licence
is to download a binary installer, run it, and then either follow the
directions to view the licensing using bk itself ("bk bkl" or "bk pkcl")
or dig the text out of bkhelp.txt.  I've done the latter and posted the
current texts here:


Also in that directory are the licence text of many other popular
proprietary applications for Linux, and I'm slowly getting around to
summarising their terms in the directory's catalogue file, 00index.txt .

My aim is clarity:  If people wish to consider consenting to proprietary
licence terms, that's their affair, but I'm willing to go to at least a
modest amount of effort to help them make an informed decision.

Cheers,               "That article and its poster have been cancelled." 
Rick Moen                   -- David B. O'Donnel, sysadmin for America Online

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