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Re: [Gnu-arch-users] [Fwd: Service Update: CVS]

From: Zack Brown
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] [Fwd: Service Update: CVS]
Date: Sun, 21 Sep 2003 11:46:10 -0700
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.4i

On Sun, Sep 21, 2003 at 09:45:00AM -0700, Tom Lord wrote:
>     > From: Zack Brown <address@hidden>
> The original question was "why isn't CVS dead yet" and among other
> suggested answers I offered:
>     > On Sat, Sep 20, 2003 at 10:39:01PM -0700, Tom Lord wrote:
>     > > nowadays I think
>     > > there's an ego competition about who kills CVS and BK among free
>     > > software projects -- and that's really slowing things down quite a
>     > > bit.
> Zack says:
>     > I haven't noticed that. Yes, there are multiple projects. And yes, the
>     > developers of project A think that project A is the way to go. But
>     > that's not the same as there being an ego competition.
>     > [....]
>     > I don't see any ego involved, beyond the normal know-it-allism that 
> pervades
>     > the geek community. 
> So, there isn't except where there is?

I'll continue with this thread just because it actually is relevant to
consider why there are multiple version control projects and not just one.

First of all, killing CVS and killing BitKeeper are two very different
prospects. OpenCM and Subversion, for instance, are not interested in
replacing BitKeeper. That's not their focus at all. Subversion accepts the
fact that it can't, and OpenCM just isn't interested. But Subversion would
very much like to replace CVS. That's pretty much been their focus from
day one, especially after they accepted the fact that they were not going
to be the total solution for huge distributed projects like the kernel.
OpenCM, while maybe not directly trying to kill CVS, would like to solve
the problems they've set for themselves. They are off in their own space,
not really bashing anybody, AFAICT.

Darcs, meanwhile, would be thrilled to kill BitKeeper, and CVS with it,
but is not struggling to compete with anything at the moment; and David
Roundy is certainly not driven by ego, but by a desire to help others and
to explore and share the ideas he's come up with.

Oddly enough, the one project where the leader really is dominated by ego, is
tla. And either because of that or in spite of it, tla is the project that has
advanced the furthest. Its mailing list is much more active than any of the
others except Subversion. There are real developers submitting patches, and
new features going into the tree all the time. In terms of killing BitKeeper,
it is high on the tla agenda (where it is not in any of the other projects). In
terms of killing CVS, tla doesn't seem to concern itself much with that at all.

So, all of this seems to add up to there being a different focus in each
project. SVN chases CVS; OpenCM chases their grand idea; darcs chases
its grand idea; and tla chases BitKeeper.

Furthermore, at least in the cases of tla, darcs, and Subversion, there
seems to be a real purpose to what they're doing. (OpenCM I'm still not sure
about. They may be just spinning their wheels.) tla is all about solving the
hard problems, but insists on certain strict rules for user behavior before
it will "just work". darcs, in contrast, wants to solve the hard problems,
but believes that it's possible to do so without imposing on the user as
much as tla does. And Subversion wants to be an easy tool that allows users
to get their work done without having to put up with all of CVS' restrictions.

Each project has its own set of goals, and those goals don't overlap as
much as you might think. So in practical terms, there's no compelling
reason why any of them should abandon what their doing, in order to go
do work on one of the others. 

>          > As far as I can tell, the quest for the revision control
>          > system of the future is proceeding according to the natural
>          > laws of open source software development. And tla seems to
>          > be bubbling to the top. But who knows?  Maybe darcs, with
>          > it's simplicity and ease of use, will take the prize.
>          > But where is the ego? All I see are a bunch of projects
>          > trying to solve problems.
> I'm not so sure that any "natural laws" of open source software
> development have been shown to exist.

Now *this* is a subject that's really off topic. ;-)

Be well,

> "Trying to solve problems" glosses over the question of _which_
> problems and _why_those_ problems.   I don't see how "trying to solve
> a problem" rules out the presence of ego.
> -t

Zack Brown

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