How can we ensure Bazaar (bzr) remains active?

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at
Tue Sep 22 03:55:43 UTC 2015

Ben Finney writes:


Take Ben with a grain of salt here, as he has an axe to grind.  He's a
well-known CLA refusenik: AFAIK he still won't even sign the Python
CLA, and that's saying a lot (the legal asymmetry in the Python CLA
favors the contributor who can distribute proprietary versions, while
the Python Software Foundation cannot).  Don't ignore him; he makes
valid points.  Just be careful to choose your own balance. ;-)

My take:

It is indeed true that the Canonical contributor agreement is
asymmetrical, and specifically allows Canonical to use Bazaar code in
combination with proprietary code.  If you are a c at pyleft fan, it
*will* be hard for you to contribute to Bazaar, at least in code.

However, Bazaar itself is GPL and will always be.  (Modulo the one-
time fork cost if Canonical decides to publish a proprietary version,
but the risk of that is pretty low IMO FWIW YMMV.[1])  Those who see
copyleft as a sometimes useful expedient can contribute code with a
clear conscience, knowing that the community's version will always be
open source, enforceable by law.

The asymmetry itself is not necessarily a barrier to a vibrant
community; many organizations governing vibrant community projects
have asymmetric power.  Eg, the FSF requires assignment in many GNU
projects, and it could change the license to a more permissive license
(I doubt it will, but it *could*).  Nobody else can do that, and it
would upset a lot of the GNU constituency.  The PSF could change
Python's license to the GPL.  True, anybody could release a GPL Python
(in fact, it's been done), but only the PSF's version will have an
impact on the community, and it would be *large* (there is a lot of
proprietary use of the Python interpreter itself out there).

Bottom line: I think the code base itself and the rather clear
historical division into core-contributor-users and only-users are a
lot more important than the Canonical CLA.

[1]  OTOH, it seems somewhat likely that the community might decide to
bear that cost to "get out from under" burdensome Canonical
governance.  And I suspect RMS would cheer if community development
moved to Savannah.

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