Re: What is Open Source?

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From: Charles S. Kerr (
Date: Fri Sep 15 2000 - 13:06:07 PDT

Hi Dave,

I wanted to comment on your DaveNet piece, "What is Open Source"?
There seems to be confusion equating the Bazaar model with OSS:

   ``So when the open source rage came along two years ago, I went
     on an investigation. I couldn't imagine how a software project
     could work if anyone could check-in any code they wanted.''

You later correctly decide that OSS != Bazaar, and your definition
of OSS is pretty close to, so
everyone seems to be reading from the same page. Yay!

But the cause of the confusion of OSS vs. Bazar I think comes from
a lack of context: ESR's gone on the road talking about open source,
and you're a closed-source developer, so that's understandable.
(As usual the media's not much help either.) The thing to understand
is that ESR's is a Unix guy. His paper didn't propose the Bazaar as
an alternative to closed Windows/Mac source, but to Cathedral model
OSS projects, which Unix had in abundance. 386BSD and gcc are two of
the bigger Unix cathedral failures: they released so infrequently, and
were so closed, that eventually [Net|Free]BSD[1], and egcs[2] sprang up
to route around them.

The Bazaar is partially about amplifying the user/developer feedback
loop in two ways: (1) Release constantly, so that people will always
have something new to play with, and (2) make the latest source available,
so that people can mail in patches along with their bug reports.
User feedback is nothing new, but these are two worthwhile variations.

A few weeks ago, I committed some some buggy code to CVS right before
goign to bed. When I checked my mail in the morning a user had already
reported the bug. When I got to work, a different user had posted a fix
to the mailing list. After looking it over, I committed the patch and
added both the users to the CREDITS file for that release. My users are
great. :)

IMHO that's closer to the Bazaar model than the media's distorted view,
or the straw man in the Lotus article.


/* Disclosure: I work on a GPL'ed GNOME app[3]. I don't always agree
   with ESR, RMS, or DW, but I don't have an axe to grind against any
   of them either. I don't get Dave's nastiness towards ESR. */


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