[linux-elitists] Re: My first look at BitKeeper. (fwd)

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Sat Mar 15 03:32:42 PST 2003

Quoting Eugen Leitl (eugen@leitl.org):

> I don't have time to read high-volume technical stuff, so I was unaware 
> BitKeeper license issues were a) beaten to death b) considered flame bait. 

The pity of it is that observers tend to notice the heat but see little
light on this subject.  Getting the facts of the matter right requires 
chasing down a lot of twisty little details.  A long parade of people
have studied enough of the picture to carry them through a public rant,
but getting some details wrong (or omitting them) in the process.  Which
is what enables people like Greg K-H here to dismiss their concerns with
corrections like "Well, actually, anyone barred from using the gratis
version by the no-compete clause can just buy the commercial version"

(Greg is of course perfectly correct in this, though he doesn't mention
that the commercial licence fee would be around US $2800 to $5800 per
seat, about ten times what people tend to intuitively expect, based on
their experience with products like Perforce.)

What also tends to get lost in the rhetoric brushwars is the history of
BitMover, Inc. progressively changing/tightening the rules -- ceasing to
offer source code, adding the no-compete clause, etc.  There's also been
some, well, spin-control over other parts of the picture:  The
gratis-version licence on the BitKeeper Web site (often) isn't the
current one in the current mandated in-use version, but rather an older
and (often) less-restrictive one for a version no longer allowed to
connect to BK's hosting-service repository (the forced-upgrade aspect).  
Pricing information is obscured.  People writing in public about these
details have been threatened with litigation on various grounds.  

But mostly, people who talk about these things just aren't noticed,
because they get suckering into ranting and thus looking like loons,
and/or they get wrong/omit some of the twisty little details and thus
look ill-informed.  I certainly don't think Larry McVoy planned it that
way, but it's proved a happy accident for him.

Anyhow, that's (a minor) part of the reason I maintain 
http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/linux-info/scm.html .  Corrections welcomed,
of course.

Cheers,                 "Heedless of grammar, they all cried 'It's him!'"
Rick Moen                       -- R.H. Barham, _Misadventure at Margate_

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