Wednesday, April 6

use it or lose it

Slashdot is abuzz with the news that Bitkeeper is moving away from offering a free license. This impacts development of the Linux kernel, which completed a controversial move to Bitkeeper 5-6 years ago. Now, if I understand the licensing correctly (and I've had a long argument with several people about it), BitKeeper specifically forbids use of the free tool if you've ever contributed code to a competitor. This includes Subversion, CVS, Arcs ... and so on. Why they pulled the free license was because a contractor with Linus Torvald's employer was reverse engineering BitKeeper. on an unrelated project.

Hmph. I don't develop the kernel. I've only seen any of the source a handful of times. Their development practices mean nothing to me. If the Linux kernel was developed by a bunch of monkeys using no version control; by merely banging away on a set of keyboards, I'd be none the wiser. Well, I'd notice if the fricking thing didn't build. I'd bitch if it breaks something. I'd probably notice if my beloved Loonix machines didn't boot because of a screwy kernel. But other than that, I don't care. So I'm not going to comment. But as in an election, the absence of comment can also say something. I learnt something from this episode. If you really value your data (in this case, the Linux source), there is little difference between a possibly poorly maintained OSS application (with no vendor and no support) and free use of a commercial application (whose license for use may be revoked at any time). Having said that, I'm still using the freebie version of Perforce. It's nice. I'd prefer Subversion, all the cool kids use Subversion (1.1.4, with bugfixes, was released today). But installing TortoiseSVN on a Windows machine I don't admin is impossible. So I am playing a bit of do what I say, not what I do.

In other news, people keep insisting biometric security is good, right ? Try convincing K Kumaran of that. He'd probably err.. give you the finger.


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