How can we ensure Bazaar (bzr) remains active?

Ben Finney ben+bazaar at
Tue Sep 22 02:51:00 UTC 2015

Kevin <m1ndstr3ngthapps at> writes:

> What is it with bzr being so left behind?

Earlier in this thread, this article by Jelmer Vernooij was mentioned
have you read that?

In particular, I place the explanation in how the code base is governed:

    Looking back, it seems like Bazaar-NG was much more a community
    project at the time than it is now. Sure, Canonical funded its main
    developer and thus had copyright on most of the files but there were
    plenty of other people contributing and the roadmap seemed to be
    defined by the needs of free software projects, not Canonical.
    Bazaar-NG had its own domain at "". Nobody asked me to
    sign a contributor license agreement for the patches I submitted in
    those first few years.

    Canonical owns the copyright to almost all Bazaar sourcecode (there
    are some historical exceptions), and since 2009 or so contributors
    have to sign the Canonical contributor license agreement.

    […] Eventually the Canonical Bazaar hackers started "piloting"
    patches from contributors, which made it much easier to help get
    bugs fixed or changes landed.

    […] Some people claimed [around 2009] Bazaar did not have many
    community contributions, and was entirely developed inside of
    Canonical's walled garden. The irony of that was that while it is
    true that a large part of Bazaar was written by Canonical employees,
    that was mostly because Canonical had been hiring people who were
    contributing to Bazaar - most of which would then ended up working
    on other code inside of Canonical.

    In late 2009 Canonical gradually became more and more visible in
    the Bazaar world. […] The focus for the Bazaar team in Canonical
    changed from making sure Bazaar was a decent general purpose version
    control system to ensuring that Bazaar worked well for package
    management in the Ubuntu project.

    Contributions from people outside of the Canonical Bazaar team had
    become rare by mid-2011. In early 2012 the members of the Canonical
    Bazaar team were assigned to other projects, though we would still
    fix the occasional bug in Bazaar.

So there are a large number of factors covered in that article. A clear
current, though, is that assigning copyright to Canonical, and moving
the most active developers to that single organisation holding all
copyright in the work, severely undercut the healthy community you and I
would want for the Bazaar project.

> Still, let's move it forward. I'm currently exploring the source code
> to get ready to branch it and contribute some patches! :-)

As it stands today, the official gatekeeper of the Bazaar code base has
both an insistence that no contribution is official Bazaar until they
get unequal copyright over the contribution; and also that they're not
interested any more in putting their resources to keep Bazaar vibrant.

Until one of those tow changes — Canonical exercises its unequal power
to pump life into Bazaar's development, or Canonical releases its
unequal over the copyright and trademark so the community can take over
with authority — I don't see a healthy vibrant community being feasible.

So I would hope some effort can be exerted *within* Canonical to
convince whoever is the decision-maker to do one of those two actions,
in the interest of a healthy free-software community project.

 \       “The internet's completely over.… Anyway, all these computers |
  `\    and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with |
_o__)     numbers and that can't be good for you.” —Prince, 2010-07-05 |
Ben Finney

More information about the bazaar mailing list