The post I made a few days ago (yes THAT one) was, it turns out, based on true information. The information was, as seems to often happen, only one part of the story. It’s time to try and put the entire story together in one place as it has ramifications for the future.
yT are keeping various open source projects in private repositories. They’re doing this for a number of well known projects, Vision, Pe, the IM Kit (we really need a catchy cool name for that don’t we?) to name but a few. I talked with Alan about this today and he confirmed this as fact. That’s the first part of the story and taken in isolation it paints a poor picture of yT and how they “do business”.
The second part of the story goes as follows. yT have no option but to keep some of these projects as they have been unable to get the projects to accept their patches or make sensible changes. Examples quoted were constantly changing build systems, repositories with poor organisation and seperation of parts of the code or projects refusing to accept patches for locale kit code.
Suddenly things don’t look quite so rosy and I’m forced to say that I fully understand why yT have done what they’ve done. In fact I think it’s time that the Be open source community takes a long hard look at itself. Simply ignoring Zeta isn’t an option.
Let’s imagine a very possible future. Haiku manages to release a 1.0 and the market is divided with Haiku having 40% and Zeta 60%. Most people actually run both. Most people would like to run the same apps on both. Apps that run on both prosper, those that don’t get forgotten.
Now I’m guessing that a large part of the reason people write apps is to see them used. Why would you ignore a large part of your potential market?
Haiku neds to change it’s policy and learn to play well with Zeta. Likewise apps written for Zeta will (eventually) need to be able to be built and run on Haiku. There simply isn’t an alternative. the markets are too small in isolation but together they are of a size that will probably support apps both big and small. The same applies for other projects.
While talking with Alan he also agreed that yT will take the highly unusual and welcome step of reviewing the copyright assignments for code written by programmers working on open source software. If you’re confused, then you need to bear in mind that almost all companies require that all code written while working for that company (sometimes even on free time) belongs to (ie copyrighted is owned by) the company not the individual. This makes contributing to open source projects difficult. In our discussion Alan stated that all work done by Rene Gollent on Vision is free from such copyright issues but that other projects would be considered on a case by case basis.
It’s worth bearing in mind that considering licences doesn’t come naturally for programmers. It’s only in the last few years that they have started to become a bigger issue and the changing way that they are being used has forced most companies and many open source projects to get more involved in legalities than they’re used to. yT and Haiku both need to be much more aware of the potential problems.