[GRASS5] Some news: KerGIS

Thierry Laronde tlaronde at polynum.com
Mon Jan 26 14:04:46 EST 2004

Hello Paul,

On Mon, Jan 26, 2004 at 04:52:45PM +0000, Paul Kelly wrote:

> I was interested when you mentioned the cathedral and the bazaar, and it
> prompted me to read a little bit (a few pages) of this paper:
> http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/
> While reading it and thinking how the bazaar approach resulted in quality
> software in the case of Linux I thought about the similarities between
> GRASS and Linux, which Bernhard has mentioned a few times, and why the
> bazaar approach has not worked for GRASS and therefore you are trying the
> cathedral approach.

The problem with Eric S. Raymond's paper is that this plea for the
bazaar is based on a word play. The bazaar is not on the management side
it's the opportunity to accept improvements or new ideas coming from
a "non-authoritative" source.

The main driving force that _can_ be behind libre software is the
interconnection, that is the possibility to gather energies and skills
spread all around the earth and to combine good ideas that will be lost
in an classical university/enterprise environment where there are the
ones who have the right to speak and the other ones who have the right
to listen. But this is not a random incorporation: the sources are
random (good skills or ideas can come from a non expected side), but the
process is not.
This means too that the Internet is the definitive back-bone of the
libre software and that we must be very carefull with the laws being
made at the moment.

And note that if there is a bazaar this is a "bazaar of cathedrals". 
When the sources were closed, it was impossible to anybody to start a 
big project, since it meant start from scratch. With open sources, you 
can with a reasonable amount of work construct your own cathedral if you
don't agree with the directions taken by others (the fork processes).

All the succesfull leading project are cathedrals (strictly driven ones)
: FSF is not a bazaar (it's very difficult to enter by the way), Linux
was not a bazaar (Linus Torvalds have endured a huge amount of
criticisms due to his refusals to incorporate some functionnalities), 
4.4BSD Lite2 was not a bazaar (cf the Release Engineering paragraphs in
"The Design and Implementation of the 4.4BSD Operating System" by
McKusick, Bostic, Karels, Quarterman ---Addison-Wesley :

	The CSRG [Computer System Research Group at the University of
	California at Berkeley] was always a small group of software
	developers. This resource limitation required careful
	software-engineering management. Careful coordination was needed not
	only of the CSRG personnel, but also of members of the general
	community who contributed to the development of the system.[...]
	This process illustrates an _advantage_ of having only a few
	principal developers: The developers all knew the whole system
	thoroughly enough to be able to coordinate their own work with that
	of other people to produce a coherent final system. Companies with
	large development organizations find this result difficult to


> I argue that with the more organised state that GRASS is in now, the pressure
> on such a proprietary developer to give back developments to the GRASS
> community would be much higher than it was when Blacklands GRASS was
> developed. Partially I base this idea on discussions I have seen on the
> GDAL list (GDAL has the BSD-style licence) where developers of proprietary
> software are using GDAL and feel grateful for it and are putting pressure
> on their bosses to release part of their product as Open Source.
> Just thought I'd mention this as I haven't seen it discussed before. BTW
> I'm not sure what the best licence for GRASS is and don't have a strong
> opinion as long as it is some kind of open source that researchers can
> play around with.

I have the sentiment that to prevent a not fair use of libre software
the following is mandatory:

- Obligation of advertisement: one can not hide that one uses software
he has not developed -> this advertises the sources hence the project;
 this moderates the prices [if one wants to make money he has to 
 justify about an added value] and this gives too an incitative to 
 work as a core developer [if you claim to be a good developer whose 
 work is derived from this one, it could be strange that you do not 
 contribute to the main project...]

- Allow to make money with it [and for this you must have the
opportunity to not give away the code you have developed]

- BUT the strict interdiction to put patents on derived work (I'm
fanatic about that). And this can be achieved (I have discussed about
this with RMS some times ago and he didn't think there was a easy way to
do it) with this kind of disposition I have found in a crypto software,
that is saying that if anybody derived a work from this library and put
patents on the derived work, ipso facto and immediately the provider of
the library will gain the patents for its own use.

As long as the software doesn't focus on the USER INTERFACE, where most
of the added value can be done, this will allow individuals,
universities and enterprises to contribute to the core while protecting
their business interests if any.
Thierry Laronde (Alceste) <tlaronde at polynum.org>
Key fingerprint = 0FF7 E906 FBAF FE95 FD89  250D 52B1 AE95 6006 F40C

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