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Apache Subversion To WANdisco, Inc: Get Real 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the you're-not-the-boss-of-me dept.
kfogel writes "The Apache Subversion project has just had to remind one of its corporate contributors about the rules of the road. WANdisco, Inc was putting out some very odd press releases and blog posts, implying (among other things) that their company was in some sort of steering position in the open source project. Oops — that's not the Apache Way. The Apache Software Foundation has reminded them of how things work. Meanwhile, one of the founding developers of Subversion, Ben Collins-Sussman, has posted a considerably more caustic take on WANdisco's behavior."
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Apache Subversion To WANdisco, Inc: Get Real

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  • Open! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nhaines (622289) <nhaines@ubuntu.E ... minus physicist> on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @03:18AM (#34751682) Homepage

    The beautiful thing, though, is that because development discussion is held in open, publicly archived mailing lists and all development is done in logged, publicly accessible source code repositories, the interested observer can investigate and come to the real conclusion on his own to see whether either party's explanation makes sense.

    • Re:Open! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @05:02AM (#34752038) Homepage Journal

      the interested observer can investigate and come to the real conclusion on his own

      Meanwhile, the other 99.99% will listen to whoever shouts loudest - just like they do with everything else.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        99.99% will listen to whoever shouts loudest

        This is precisely the problem with slashdot nowadays. Observe that on any given story, the first posts to get modded up are the "what do I need this for", "this sucks", "he's a prick" and so forth -- even the ones that don't provide any rationale whatsoever.

        Conclusion: Slashdot is now comprised of greater than 50% teenagers.

        • by silanea (1241518)

          I remember reading about an analysis of Facebook comments and "like's" a while ago which concluded that negative posts receive the most attention. Apparently it is easier to respond to a negative attitude - either by arguing against it or expressing solidarity - than a positive one.

          The same effect is visible in politics: It is the angry voters who rush to the polling stations, the content stay at home, even though the outcome of the election is equally important to both. There surely is a psychological expl

          • The same effect is visible in more portions of life than that. Customer complaints are always more numerous than customer compliments, because if something pisses you off, you want it changed, but if something went fine, well, yay, I don't need to do anything, do I? That's why a lot of retail places offer incentives for customer service surveys, so that people who had good experiences have more of a reason to mention it. People don't seem to realize that if you only get feedback from one side, then you inst

    • The beautiful thing, though, is that because development discussion is held in open, publicly archived mailing lists and all development is done in logged, publicly accessible source code repositories, the interested observer can investigate and come to the real conclusion on his own to see whether either party's explanation makes sense.

      Sure, but confirming or rejecting allegations consumes resources. The grapevine "supports" many decisions. Rumours will most likely delay an opponent and rob him of resources.

      Spreading unfounded rumours towards charity organisations is particularly evil as it damages their scarce resources. In many aspects Apache and many other open source projects can be considered charity organisations.

    • by Khyber (864651)

      The only conclusion I came to is that both parties are acting like little children having a tantrum.

      And that pretty much steers my business away from wanting to use anything developed by them.

  • Smell test (Score:5, Funny)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @03:26AM (#34751710) Homepage Journal
    If you take any organization called "WANdisco" seriously, you have bigger issues than where exactly your open source software came from :P
    • If you take any organization called "WANdisco" seriously, you have bigger issues than where exactly your open source software came from :P

      Yeah, they really should have choosen a more professional name, such as WANdiscotheque.

      • This just in: due to negative publicity surrounding his comments, WANdisco CEO David Richards has announced plans to rename the company WANkers.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          This just in: due to negative publicity surrounding his comments, WANdisco CEO David Richards has announced plans to rename the company WANkers.

          I recently had to assist implementing this software, and trust me, your suggestion would be a much more appropriate name. WANdisco is a horribly expensive solution to a problem that can be solved in much better and cheaper ways (the most obvious one being using something better than SVN in the first place). WANdisco essentially tries to do is turn the turd that is SVN into the turd that is ClearCase. Bleh!

          • Well then, we should be upset that they took the idea of wacky sounding names and made them look bad. I mean just when they were starting to get credibility, like GNU, Linux, KDE, GIMP, someone has to spoil the goldmine in names that WANdisco should have been! I mean really, WAN (haha get it, it's like a LAN, but bigger) and then disco(par-tae!)! I'm on the Internet, bopping along! /only trying to be half funny.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        And their flagship product....... SPROKETS!

        Now is the time on Sprokets when we dance!

        • And their flagship product....... SPROKETS!

          Now is the time on Sprokets when we dance!

          You can not touch my monkey.

    • After this bad press I would suggest a name change to something that suggests a large degree of added functionality. Off the top of my head, maybe "GIANTtools"

    • by PatPending (953482) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @04:11AM (#34751850)

      Why don't you quit your Jive Talkin'?

      WANdisco is simply focusing on Stayin' Alive in these difficult times.

      So instead of making snide remarks, You Should Be Dancing in their Boogie Shoes!

      And--did you ever think of this?--maybe their CEO Dave Richards has Night Fever from working in a Disco Inferno!

      So if you're More Than a Woman, I ask: How Deep is Your Love for open source?

      Now, my friend, is the time to step down from your Manhattan Skyline and spend a Night on Disco Mountain before you have a Calypso Breakdown!

      (And maybe savor A Fifth of Beethoven while you're at it.)

      And I do apologize for my ranting--I blame a relapse from Saturday Night Fever [wikipedia.org]

      • by wolowsj (1951140)
        So funny.....I want to put on my disco shoes. Disco duck. Need one of those disco balls and the Travolta spinning jacket moves.
    • by jbatista (1205630)
      I notice the post was labelled as "Funny", but really -- I can't imagine how much fun you have with company names such as "Google" or (even worse) "MICRO SOFT" (I suppose you'd choose to do business instead with a company called "MAJOR HARD").
    • But I should trust GIMP, Brain Fuck Scheduler, Gnome, Pidgin, Konqueror, etc?

  • in order to get noticed. News at 11:00

  • Well said, Ben!

    --
    Tomas

  • by prionic6 (858109) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @04:11AM (#34751856)

    While I have much respect for the Apache Foundation and do not know this WANdisco guys, anyone has to admit that subversion is lagging behind in core functionality. I don't mean distributed repositories, but the one feature pack that the other systems seemingly have right: branching and merging with real rename tracking. We try to avoid branches in our projects right now because it is so unwieldy. Merge tracking changed a few things but is not really sufficient if you refactor your package structure. This is a really important feature that is on the roadmap since, I don't know, five years? On the other hand, git and mercurial just don't have the tooling (GUI) that subversion has with TortoiseSVN, SmartSVN, the Eclipse SVN Handler... There might be equivalents, but they are not as good.

    Of course, it easy to criticise an Open Source project when you are not contributing anything. But I would very much appreciate any effort that goes into speeding up the implementation of this stuff.

    • I respectfully suggest you read the second link in The Fine Summary. All Will Be Revealed [red-bean.com] (TM).
      • by prionic6 (858109) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @04:23AM (#34751906)

        Yeah, I read that. And I get it. Subversion is a rock of a software. Yet still, I remember reading about rename tracking _years_ ago identified as a critical feature by the subversion developers themselves! And now it is on the roadmap for Q1 2012! At that pace, I don't know if maybe moving to another SCM may be the better option.

    • by butlerm (3112) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @04:22AM (#34751896)

      I don't mean distributed repositories, but the one feature pack that the other systems seemingly have right: branching and merging with real rename tracking

      It is entirely possible that this will never happen in any reasonable time frame without re-engineering the whole system. If it can happen with relatively minor changes, it should have happened by now. If it is going to require major changes, somebody is essentially going to have to fork it and redo the core SCM storage from the ground up. A number of minor patches won't do. A version of the Innovator's Dilemma, more or less.

      • by prionic6 (858109)

        If it can happen with relatively minor changes, it should have happened by now. If it is going to require major changes, somebody is essentially going to have to fork it and redo the core SCM storage from the ground up.

        I'm afraid you are right...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by yahwotqa (817672)

        Nah, they're just going to develop it in a separate branch, and merge it to trunk when it's done.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        A number of fairly simple tools can do this. It could involve changes to data formats, or storage of additional metadata, but there is no reason to believe that this should be difficult. Unison does it, and it's not a particularly competent project (it can't even synchronize between different versions. I mean, seriously. Have we never heard of capabilities?) If you don't want to build Unison yourself then you basically can't use it across different distributions. No distribution seems to use the latest rele

      • by stsp (979375)

        It is entirely possible that this will never happen in any reasonable time frame without re-engineering the whole system. If it can happen with relatively minor changes, it should have happened by now.

        Speaking as a Subversion committer: Yes, you're right, it will still take a long time. It's very hard to make it work with a few small changes because the system contains quite a lot of layers of abstractions. We need to peel at each layer to make this work.

        Each layer has a public API with some amount of comp

        • by burymore (879896)
          What would "help" is agreeing to break compatibility, which would definitely require a fork (or a "version 2.0", which is what the community keeps, in moments of darkest despair, suggesting). But an incompatible Subversion is hardly a Subversion at all (regardless of its name, number, or origin).
        • by steelfood (895457)

          The one thing forking will help overcome: backwards compatibility issues.

          Seems Subversion is being bitten by the same thing that bit Microsoft for new versions of Windows and Office. I say do the massive changes necessary in one go and offer a compatibility layer afterwards. After all, nobody's going to be migrating their clients to 2.x if their server is still at 1.x.

    • What does Tortoise have that I'd miss? Gitk and git-gui are getting pretty good, especially at exposing what's actually going on in Git, and they're portable.

      • by prionic6 (858109)

        Tortoise is usable by about anyone in our company (at least the lowly windows using creatures). What I have heard and seen about gitk and git-gui, they are a bit "complicated" ;)

        • And as I'm sure you know, there is a version of Tortoise for git and mercurial.

        • gitk, yes, maybe. Git-gui, really? From what I've seen, it manages to be both very easy to use (very little training needed, even for "lowly windows using creatures"), and a very faithful representation of what's actually going on in Git.

          And I'm not sure gitk is meant to be a standalone GUI, but it works well as the "visualize" option in git-gui, just to show a tree of recent changes -- and I don't know of a subversion tool that can visualize merges like that.

        • by Desler (1608317)

          Tortoise is usable by about anyone in our company

          So then use TortoiseGit [google.com].

    • by LizardKing (5245) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @08:27AM (#34752640)

      At work we switched from Subversion to Mercurial last year, after repeated difficulties merging branches back into the trunk with SVN. The "killer feature" of SVN over CVS was supposed to be the ability to move files and directories around without doing it by hand in the repository itself. However, the moment you start doing this in a branched repository - or worse still, delete files and directories - you're into a world of hurt. The guy who wrote the existing branch/merge support has acknowledged it's inadequate[1], while the remaining SVN developers have been promising to fix it in the next version, for about the last four or five major versions. Since switching to Mercurial, we have had a reasonably large branch that was reintegrated into trunk with none of the problems we had with SVN. We've found the tools at least as good as those available for SVN, with various team members using the Mercurial command line client, NetBeans plugin and TortoiseHg.

    • by ka9dgx (72702) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @08:41AM (#34752712) Homepage Journal

      ... On the other hand, git and mercurial just don't have the tooling (GUI) that subversion has with TortoiseSVN, SmartSVN, the Eclipse SVN Handler... There might be equivalents, but they are not as good.

      I've used TortoiseHg [bitbucket.org] for a while now, and it seems to be complete. Is it just that I'm a Mercurial Noob?

      • To me it seems better than TortoiseSVN. I suspect this is because the main developer of both switched what he personally uses and only maintains TortoiseSVN so as not to abandon a userbase that's come to depend on it.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      The ultimate issue is that renames (or moves) are implemented as delete+addition operations. Maybe back in the day, that appeared to be ok, but now its obvious it's a large failing. That's the reason you have problems with merging - merging is fine for changes to existing files, its merging new files where you get the problem. (look up 'tree conflicts' in svn for more info).

      The rest of the system works well (though there's still a lot of svn haters for the usual reasons - they have something 'new' or 'cool'

      • Git and mercurial lose some features that enterprises like, spare checkouts for example is a killer feature for enterprises that don't work well with DVCSs simply because of their original design.

        What's a "spare checkout", exactly?

      • by stsp (979375)

        The ultimate issue is that renames (or moves) are implemented as delete+addition operations. Maybe back in the day, that appeared to be ok, but now its obvious it's a large failing.

        That's not the problem. Mercurial also does this, and nobody (at least on slashdot :-) is complaining about Mercurial's rename implementation. If you look closely, Mercurial has problems with its rename implementation, as does *gasp* git. See my BSc thesis for details: https://www.inf.fu-berlin.de/w/SE/ThesisTreeConflicts [fu-berlin.de]

        The pro

      • by steelfood (895457)

        The actual issue is the way branching works (or more accurately, doesn't work). The idea that a branch is no more than another directory is far too simplistic for any merge tracking.

        The other issue is that files and directories are treated completely differently. Treating directories and files the same would go a long way to making branching more dynamic.

        Fix these two core design issues, and branching and merging will be a piece of cake.

        • by gbjbaanb (229885)

          why is branching broken? Too simplistic? really.

          The biggest issue with merging is the "tree conflict" where a directory list is modified. You don't need to treat a directory the same as file as its just a list of files - and you can determine that from the change in the revision (as files in that directory that are modified, added or deleted are recorded, which is exactly what you'd get if you stored directories the same as files).

          However, because you cannot tell if a file has been moved, you have to delete

  • So this is what drama looks like in the open source world?
    • by Caerdwyn (829058)

      So this is what drama looks like in the open source world?

      One of several flavors. This is the "commercial company tries to elbow its way into a position of de facto control" flavor.

      Others include:

      • Alpha-nerd pissfight
      • The "companies are now depending on this to not change" orthodoxy vs. "innovate, who cares who we hurt" heretics
      • Minutae-of-licensing sectarianism
      • The one hardworking contributor who knows what's going on retires without leaving an heir-apparent, triggering succession-wars
      • Oops. We stepped on an enforcable patent, and the patent-holder is serious.
      • "Thi
  • WANdisco's side (Score:4, Informative)

    by FrootLoops (1817694) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @04:31AM (#34751948)
    Here's WANdisco's press release [wandisco.com], their CEO's first blog post [wandisco.com], and his second blog post [wandisco.com] responding to community response.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's pretty clear that this CEO is just another manager with that special kind of social blindness that never lets him believe he could make a mistake. Is it any different than what most of us see at work every day? Salespeople pushing their products with no regard to the impact they have on the world, just selling selling selling. With every breath they take or word they write or blog post they publish, selling selling selling.

    • Re:WANdisco's side (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ralphart (70342) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @09:54AM (#34753194)

      I love his summation in the second blog post:

      ...Could these things have been said with a little less venom? Yes, probably. But the bottom line is that WE CARE because we have a deep vested interest in this Subversion stuff.

      Translation: I'm a dickhead but that's okay because I'm awesome!

      ....Getting out of marketing and into IT was the best career move I ever made.

      • by http (589131)
        Or, translation: We're not interested in playing pretty, because we're dealing with dickheads hell-bent on breaking something essential.
  • by FrootLoops (1817694) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @04:55AM (#34752018)

    [Note: The summary's second link seems to be getting slashdotted, so I'm copying its contents to a comment here. The words are not my own.]

    This entry was posted by Ben Collins-Sussman [red-bean.com] on Monday, 3 January, 2011

    Author’s Note: These opinions are my own. I'm one of the original folks that started the Subversion project, but no longer work on it. These thoughts do not reflect the official position of either the Subversion project or the Apache Software Foundation, which are located here [apache.org] on the ASF blog.

    Subversion has reached the realm of Mature software — it’s yesterday’s technology, not cool or hip to work on anymore. It moves slowly. It is developed almost entirely by engineers working for corporations that need it or sell support for it. Alpha-geeks consider software like this “dead”, but the fact is that something like half of all corporate programmers use Subversion as their SCM (depending on which surveys you read.) This is a huge userbase; it may not be sexy, but it’s entrenched and here for the long haul.

    Subversion isn’t unique in this position. It sits alongside other mature software such as Apache HTTPD or the GCC toolchain, which are famous projects that are similarly developed by corporate interests. There’s a tricky line to walk: none of these corporations “own” these projects. They understand that they’re acting as part of a consortium. Each interest sends representatives to the open source project, contributes code, and allows their engineers to participate in the full consensus-based evolution of the software. IBM, Apple, Google, and numerous other companies have figured out how to do this correctly:

    • 1. Let your engineers know what’s important to work on.
    • 2. Let them participate individually in the community process as usual.
    • 3. Profit. 98% of the time the corporations eventually get the features they want.

    Today, however, we have a great counterexample of how not to participate in an open source project. Subversion was initially funded and developed by CollabNet; today at least two other companies — Elego and WANdisco — are employing numerous engineers to improve Subversion, and are just as vested in selling support and derivative products. CollabNet and Elego continue to function normally in the community, but WANdisco recently seems to have lost its marbles. Last week, they put out a press release [wandisco.com] and a CEO blogpost [wandisco.com] making some crazy statements.

    It’s clear that the WANdisco CEO — David Richards — is frustrated at the slow pace at which Subversion is improving. But the two posts are simply making outrageous claims, either directly or via insinuation. David seems to believe that a cabal is preventing Subversion from advancing, and that “debate” is the evil instrument being used to block progress. He believes users are crying for the product to be improved, that the Subversion developers are ignoring them, and his company is now going to ride in on a white horse to save the project. By commanding engineers to Just Fix things, he’ll “protect the future”of Subversion, “overhauling” Subversion into a “radical new” product.

    Is this guy for real? It sounds like someone read my friend Karl's book [producingoss.com] and created a farce of “everything you’re not supposed to do” when participating in corporate open source.

    Even weirder, he’s accusing developers of trying game statistics by creating lots of

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      David seems to believe that a cabal is preventing Subversion from advancing, and that “debate” is the evil instrument being used to block progress. He believes users are crying for the product to be improved, that the Subversion developers are ignoring them, and his company is now going to ride in on a white horse to save the project.

      Users are crying for the product to be improved. Decisions on future development in any OSS project usually are made by a "cabal", but it's typically nominally a meritocracy, with the people committing the code having the loudest voice. Finally, making some bold decisions and stepping out and changing the code could make drastic improvements, if you paid a group of people to make needed changes.

      Note that I don't argue that this guy will do any of this... But only that it's possible.

    • by horza (87255) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @10:08AM (#34753336) Homepage

      Ridiculously over the top. The ASF response was fair enough, in a United Nations kind of way, but trying to tear David Richards apart on a probably over the top PR piece is just as counter-productive.

      The guy has stuck his head over the parapet and claims he will implement the features users most want. The rest of the community is scoffing at him saying it can't be done in the time he is projecting. Why not sit back and let him go ahead? Either he will fail in which case the PR piece will come back to haunt him, or he is going to give a massive boost to the Subversion project. Either way it's a win win for those like Ben Collins-Sussman disbelieving of his claims but use Subversion.

      Why get dragged into petty politics, rather than saying "Let's see you put your money where your mouth is, I look forward to seeing monthly progress reports on the dev mailing list"? Get the guy to commit cash for code, rather than try and pick a playground fight.

      Phillip.

      • by makomk (752139) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @01:36PM (#34755688) Journal

        The guy has stuck his head over the parapet and claims he will implement the features users most want. The rest of the community is scoffing at him saying it can't be done in the time he is projecting. Why not sit back and let him go ahead?

        Apparently, he did exactly the same thing a year ago and failed to follow through. Unfortunately, this seems to have completely failed to either catch up with him or stop him from dragging the Apache Foundation's name through the mud for PR gains.

  • Just the name WANDisco gives me the creeps!

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