Gentoo Archives: gentoo-project

From: heroxbd@g.o
To: gentoo-project@l.g.o
Cc: 1i5t5.duncan@×××.net
Subject: [gentoo-project] the History of Gentoo (was: Portage QOS)
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 2014 04:03:06
1 Dear Duncan,
3 (I am going to reply with my personal feelings. Therefore it goes to
4 gentoo-project)
6 Duncan <1i5t5.duncan@×××.net> writes:
8 > From what I understand, this guy /had/ been effectively drobbins'
9 > right- hand-man for a time. He had business connections and had been
10 > instrumental in parlaying some of them into gentoo sponsorships at a
11 > time when it was much younger and needed them, and he was a good PR
12 > guy. The gentoo dev community was smaller and closer knit at the
13 > time, and many had considered this guy and the devs that ultimately
14 > left with him personal friends. That made the hurt /much/ worse. =:^(
15 >
16 > What I've always wondered is what the devs who went with him thought;
17 > how he persuaded them, /their/ side of the story. I knew /his/ side
18 > of the story from reading his essays attacking gentoo and drobbins,
19 > and I knew at least enough about the gentoo side to be convinced that
20 > the gentoo side was where I should be, but coming in shortly after as
21 > I did, I never had any contact with or read anything from any of the
22 > devs that left with him, and I obviously didn't know them previously,
23 > so their side of the story, why he convinced them to go zynot (other
24 > than the obvious, that any persuasive argument must have /some/
25 > element of truth), I'll never know. Meanwhile, I'm /quite/ aware that
26 > my own view and recounting of the history I know is quite colored by
27 > my own position, and definitely /must/ suffer to some degree from the
28 > "victor rewriting history" phenomenon. I'm sure if I had a better
29 > view of the picture as the devs who left for zynot saw it, that
30 > "people who left" view would be rather different, and regardless of
31 > whether I agreed with it or not, it would certainly color my own view
32 > and thus recounting of the facts as I am aware of them. Worth keeping
33 > in mind...
34 >
35 > Meanwhile, that /some/ bit of truth, AFAIK, revolved around the fact
36 > that while gentoo had settled on the GPLv2 for code and similarly free
37 > general documentation licenses, drobbins was apparently asking for
38 > copyright rights, with a policy of copyright everything gentoo, which
39 > drobbins held the rights to, with the ownership rights becoming the
40 > core of the fight. There had been some talk of some sort of a gaming
41 > distro (I'm fuzzy on the details), apparently drobbins' big idea, and
42 > as a base for embedded, this guy's big idea and ultimately zynot's
43 > target for funding, etc. This guy accused drobbins of intending to do
44 > the gaming thing then take everything private. As I wasn't there and
45 > am not drobbins, I can't say for sure what drobbins ultimate idea and
46 > motives were, but as I read this guy's essays, I kept shouting at the
47 > monitor, "But if he intended to go private and deprive other
48 > contributors of their just due, why GPLv2, not MIT/BSD, which would
49 > make that so much easier?" Of course as we know from the
50 > MySQL/Sun/Oracle events, with all rights a company can still go
51 > private, using the GPL to maintain an unfair advantage over others who
52 > can't take it private because they don't have the copyrights, only the
53 > GPL version. But even so, again as the MySQL/Oracle/MariaDB events,
54 > and the Sun/Oracle/OpenOffice/LibreOffice events as well demonstrate,
55 > if that's against the wishes of an already active and developed
56 > community, that community can and will take the free version it still
57 > has rights to use and run with it!
58 >
59 > Meanwhile, from all I could see then and to the extent that I know
60 > anything of zynot to this day, that's EXACTLY what zynot tried to do,
61 > take advantage of the free-licensed gentoo work and extend it with
62 > their proprietary product. Clear as anything else I've ever seen, it
63 > was the soot-covered pot looking in the mirror and believing it sees a
64 > kettle to call black!
66 I read every single word in the winter sunshine next to my oven. Thank
67 you, Duncan. A flood of peacefulness washed through my body.
69 I really want to see a more refined and detailed stories like
70 this. Shall we launch a cooperative history writing project to educate
71 young generations of gentooers? Or someone with a bond to free software
72 journalist launching a project interviewing people and make a
73 documentory? Not sure which works... Or better suggestions?
75 > That's enough old wounds I'm sure I've torn open for some, sorry. But
76 > knowing that history explains QUITE A BIT of gentoo's internal
77 > politics to this day, so it's VERY worth knowing about for new devs
78 > who had no idea that was in gentoo's history. Among other things,
79 > that definitely plays a part in why people are now encouraged to mark
80 > their work copyright gentoo if they have no strong feelings about it,
81 > but gentoo doesn't DEMAND it. (Another factor is as greg-kh points
82 > out, due to employment contracts a lot of gentoo devs wouldn't be able
83 > to contribute and would have to resign, were a firm copyright rights
84 > assignment policy established.
85 >
86 > It plays and even *STRONGER* role in gentoo's governing structure,
87 > both because drobbins took quite some care and personal legal expense
88 > to ensure a separate gentoo foundation with the assets, but *NOT*
89 > technical control, and in the very loose government structure, with
90 > little central control and individual devs having lots of rights that
91 > are rather difficult to strip, except by what ultimately amounts to
92 > overwhelming (but not necessarily unanimous) agreement (which does and
93 > has occurred when necessary, as some former devs who still follow this
94 > list can surely attest), should a case be appealed all the way thru
95 > council, etc.
96 >
97 > And even tho there has been enough turnover that I don't believe the
98 > original devs have anything like enough power to directly maintain
99 > those rules, the original themes were strong enough to have set in
100 > motion a VERY strong culture of little central power and lots of
101 > individual dev independence, such that succeeding generations have
102 > continued to inherit that from their mentors and other devs that came
103 > before them. Those original devs tended to attract others of like
104 > mind, and train them in the way, and that generation in turn did the
105 > same, such that while few newer devs really understand the history
106 > behind it, that comparatively weak central power and strong individual
107 > dev rights continue to this day.
108 >
109 > And of course that same theme is playing in this thread. Gentoo
110 > culture has an extremely strong emphasis on individual rights,
111 > including the right to choose one's own distribution, such that most
112 > gentoo devs (and users) will find the very idea of somehow
113 > deliberately closing off avenues of choice, restricting distro choice
114 > and the ability of users to leave if they feel so inclined, EXTREMELY
115 > repulsive. Yes, to some extent the majority of the FLOSS community
116 > has a similar culture, but self- evidently the typical dev in a
117 > typical corporate-sponsored distro isn't as likely to have the
118 > extreme, gut-level revulsion to centralized or corporate control of
119 > the distro, or to dev and user choice, that your typical gentooer dev
120 > is likely to have.
122 After reading I become more resonated with the policies practiced by the
123 Gentoo community.
125 In the broader community, the level of difficulty (and power) can be
126 ordered as followed, taking Debian to represent the binary distros, and
127 Gentoo for the source ones:
129 Debian user < Gentoo user < Gentoo developer < Debian developer
131 In Gentoo, in fact the user/developer distinction is quite blurred. As
132 Rich Cook put:
134 Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to
135 build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe
136 trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is
137 winning.
139 In Gentoo, the idiots are programmers and the programmers are
140 idiots. Well, 'idiots' sounds foolish. Let's define "idiot programmers"
141 as "the programmers who only do minimal work so as to save their life
142 from pleasing (true) idiots in order to do more things beyond mere
143 progamming".
145 One could argue that by pleasing idiot users you make money, and by
146 seducing the users to depend on you you make a lot of money. Fine, go
147 for it, but not me. One could also argue that idiot and programmer is a
148 demonstration of social division of labor. Fine, I can understand that,
149 while I myself fits between a Gentoo user and a Gentoo developer.
151 Gentoo came to my life during a stage of me developing my own style of
152 social/political skills. The community educated me how to balance one's
153 ambition and energy, how to cooperate with people to make this universe
154 a ultimately friendly place to live. This style of work and life feels
155 natural to me. By learning the history behind it will not only sharpen
156 my understanding of the community but also myself.
158 BTW, I was quite surprised when someone stepped into Debian ITP bug of
159 OpenRC[1] telling me "don't do it, you are going nowhere and wasting
160 your time." and the Debian's debate on init systems in order to reach a
161 consensus, or rather, a centralized decision. Now I understand, the
162 independent culture as Duncan stated is not universal: It's a special
163 gift from Gentoo.
165 Thank you Gentoo, the community. I am appreciating it.
167 My life will be my message.
169 Cheers,
170 Benda
172 1.