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Re: [Gnu-arch-users] top posting and flame

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] top posting and flame
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2006 20:33:21 +0900
User-agent: Gnus/5.1007 (Gnus v5.10.7) XEmacs/21.4.19 (linux)

>>>>> "Thomas" == Thomas Lord <address@hidden> writes:

    Thomas> When you come across an expert in some topic that
    Thomas> interests you, you act with respect towards that expert.

    Stephen> They offered you money, did they not?

    Thomas> Not to work on GNU Arch.  Not in any way to continue
    Thomas> working on the project.  Indeed, to spend 40hrs/wk
    Thomas> specifically *not* working on GNU Arch.  It was "conceded"
    Thomas> (for it could not be legally prohibited, at least in
    Thomas> California) that if Canonical happened to release GPLed
    Thomas> software that would be useful in GNU Arch, I would be
    Thomas> free, after hours, to contribute a merge of that to GNU
    Thomas> Arch.

So far, this is the description that Uli Drepper gave me of his
relationship with Red Hat.  I don't see this as an unreasonable
opening offer from a business standpoint, nor do I find it
unreasonable that you would reject it.

    Thomas> I would, though, be required to write code for Canonical
    Thomas> which would not be released.

I'd be astonished if you accepted that.  I think you *should* have,
taken the money, and got out as soon as your financial situation
stabilized, but I'm not surprised you didn't.  Nor would I consider it
bad faith on your side; you were offered money for labor, you take it,
when the money is no longer sufficient, you stop.  No ethical problem.

    Thomas> I was, in my view, offered money to create a hostile fork
    Thomas> of my own project

Apt description.  So Mr. S showed you the respect due to a potential
competitor who could be a big advantage if converted to an ally.  I
really think it's unbecoming of you to deny that (implicitly).  It
*is* respect for your expertise.

He did not show you the personal respect of finding out "who Tom Lord
is" and what you stand for.  Or maybe he did know, and was just
grandstanding; we'll never know, I suppose.

    Thomas> At the time I interviewed with them, I came away with the
    Thomas> strong impression that the Canonical goal would be to
    Thomas> optimize arch for centralizing development within a single
    Thomas> organization -- the very antithesis of what Arch is about.
    Thomas> Subsequent development at Canonical has only strengthened
    Thomas> my belief in that opinion.

Sounds like a plan to me.  One I would not want to participate in, one
that I would warn people I hack with against, but not one that I could
tell someone thinking to buy stock "that will never fly."  It might.

Heck, it already has.  It's called "the GNU Project", whose holding
company owns more software than Canonical ever will.  Sure, GNU is
non-commercial.  But if you look at the form ... hey, it could work as
a business, too.

I do not see any win-win here by Canonical giving up that game plan,
if indeed that's what they aimed at.

    Thomas> the theme that "Tom is just being stubborn.  See, we're
    Thomas> happy to make that change!  So switch to our fork!"  Like
    Thomas> all good shaggy dog stories, their fork simply peters out
    Thomas> at the end.

As a way of discrediting Tom, this looks an awful lot like Canonical
developers making what they honestly considered a "better Arch" to me.
I think you should stop looking for conspiracies *everywhere*, and
limit your paranoia to the people who really are out to get you.

FWIW, I still think you *were* mostly just being stubborn.  Sure, on
almost all of the disagreements I saw your point, and it would have
cost you a lot of skull sweat to come up with a viable compromise in
each case, but the upside would have been making tla the clear Genuine
GNU Arch, "and already in the stores, too".

    Thomas> As you may recall, mere weeks before Canonical arrived on
    Thomas> the scene, we began work on distributed bug databases,
    Thomas> patch queues, review queues, testing queues, etc.  This
    Thomas> was, in fact, the first work to be hopelessly disrupted by
    Thomas> the move of initial employees to Canonical.

Oh, come on.  "Software is forever."  Nothing is hopeless, in that
sense, unless you throw away the CDs with your archives on them.

And (as I already pointed out) this disruption is a necessary side
effect of reallocation of rival resources from one use to another.
Even if you have independent evidence of non-free-software
motivations, all you can say about this is that movement of resources
has an unfortunate effect on the losing project.  Your public-spirited
motivations do not bind Mr. S legally or ethically.

    Thomas> The differences between the infrastructure I was proposing
    Thomas> and what Canonical wanted are subtle.  It is a question of
    Thomas> design, not of the amount of work it takes.

Of course, I never meant to contest your same-cost argument.

    Thomas> Moreover, Canonical could have achieved the same work-flow
    Thomas> they exhibit today using my infrastructure ideas rather
    Thomas> than theirs and using public rather than private code.
    Thomas> Ubuntu would still exist in much the same as the current
    Thomas> form.  There would just be a more thoughtful
    Thomas> infrastructure in the production pipeline.

If your thesis about their aim is correct, what you are proposing is
that they play deliberately for a draw, possibly a loss.  That is not
good business strategy; I do not see why they should consider your
proposal a win for them compared to the conjectured strategy of
creating a "developer portal" at Canonical.

    Thomas> What a waste.

Possibly.  But so is betting on any of the horses that don't win.

    Thomas> The exploitation can be observed in the relative benefits
    Thomas> received in the complex interactions that took place,
    Thomas> compared to the many alternatives that were available and
    Thomas> in light of intentions and actions.

Boiled down to the essentials, "he's rich, I want some of that."

Tom, as far as I can see your claim that Canonical exploits you by
using your *previously released* software is equivalent to the
counterclaim that you want to exploit Mr. S's business acumen by
sharing in his *past* revenue streams (Canonical is not yet above
water AFAIK).

School of Systems and Information Engineering
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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