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BK Lion "not tame" shock
By alex, Section Diaries
Posted on Mon Feb 24th, 2003 at 09:15:24 GMT

It looks like the BitKeeper stuff has raised it's head again.. only this time, the Lion has bigger teeth.


It seems that once every while I end up talking about BitKeeper for some or other reason. In fact, this diary entry is probably going to push my previous entry about BK off the front page :) Last time I was talking about how dangerous it can be to trust proprietary companies. I think now we can begin to see the danger I talked about.

I nicked this off the latest "KernelTraffic" bulletin (#206), which in turn (I hope) quoted Larry McVoy on the Linux Kernel Mailing List:

"One answer, maybe the only viable answer, is to use patents to protect our technology. To date we've been very sparing in where we have done that, there are substantial chunks of BK without patent protection. Some leaders in the kernel group have privately told me to not ship BK without patent protection. That slows down how fast you get a better BK, it's not something we can just wave our hands and make be so, it's lots of time and money. A single patent costs more than enough bandwidth to keep all of you happy for a year. Whatever. If you guys can't come to some sort of consensus, then patents are the route we'll choose, even German law respects patents."

This paragraph comes after how Larry explains that he sees no legal way of reverse engineering the BK protocol. Incidentally, the reference to German law was exactly about that - someone dared to suggest that reverse engineering was legal in Europe (to the best of my knowledge, it is), so Larry has resorted to patent threats (which, to the best of my knowledge, should not be legal in Europe). We can now see exactly where this is going.

I now hope for two things, I think. I hope that Larry patents BK "technology", not because I like software patents, but because I think people will respond to potential problems when they are no longer potential :-(. Also, I hope someone does take the time to reverse engineer the BK protocol. Again, this would cause the BitMover people to show their true nature. Free Software has been built on the principle of providing free solutions that replace proprietary solutions, and being able to reverse engineer is a corner stone of this (and much proprietary work also). Let's hope this is resolved one way or the other....

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BK Lion "not tame" shock | 10 comments (10 topical, editorial) | Post A Comment
[new] Patents (#1)
by job (#477) on Mon Feb 24th, 2003 at 20:34:48 GMT
(User Info)

His patents are most probably not valid in Europe.

There is no common EU patent law (yet), although there has been lots of interest towards that lately. You can read more on eurolinux.org.

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[new] Gap Between Need and Solution (#2)
by hgolden (#445) () on Tue Feb 25th, 2003 at 20:57:48 GMT
(User Info)

While I agree with your point, that it is dangerous to trust proprietary software companies, I don't agree with the implication that proprietary software is inherently not in the interests of its users. (This isn't a comment on the specifics of BitKeeper and Larry McVoy, which I'm only familiar with from watching the previous interchanges on Linux kernel mailing lists and Slashdot.)

I still believe there is a gap between what free and open source software developers provide and what users are looking for. As long as this gap exists, users are rational in choosing to use proprietary software from well-behaving proprietary software companies.

I consider myself a "GNU friend," and I have contributed financially to FSF, but I don't agree with FSF's opposition to proprietary software on principle. Instead, I believe most developers will choose free and open source licenses due to rational self-interest. Where they decide to adopt a proprietary license, I still support their right to make that decision for the results of their own efforts. I hope there is more room for this approach within FSF, since the philosophy (rational self-interest) has a more universal appeal than FSF's current philosophy (i.e., proprietary software limits users ability to share with their neighbors).

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[new] I read this site a lot more than I post. (#10)
by a member of the hurd (#-1) on Mon Apr 4th, 2005 at 14:27:39 GMT

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BK Lion "not tame" shock | 10 comments (10 topical, editorial) | Post A Comment
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