How can we ensure Bazaar (bzr) remains active?
Stephen J. Turnbull
stephen at xemacs.org
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. ;-)
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.) 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.
 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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