Alan Hargreaves' Blog

The ramblings of an Australian SaND TSC* Principal Field Technologist

Did Linus really mean to say that?

Various places are talking about the reasons that Linus is moving away from bitmover.

It appears that Linus asked Andrew Tridgell to stop reverse engineering bitmover’s file format because BitMover was upset about what Andrew was doing. Linus paraphrases Larry McVoy as saying

You can compete with me, but you can’t do so by riding on my coat-tails. Solve the problems on your own, and compete honestly. Don’t compete by looking at my solution.

This appears to be a complete about face to me. It also appears rather hypocritical, and I am wondering if he really thought through the implications of what he was saying before he said it.

I could understand it if what Andrew was doing was to find out how bitmover does all it’s clever stuff by reverse engineering the code, but from everything that I have been able to find, he was simply implementing an interface to the file format.

The Register likens what he told Andrew to do to be the same is if he told the Open Office folks to stop trying to work out Microsoft’s Office file formats.

Closer to home, what does this statement hold for projects like NTFS support in linux (linux-2.6.11.7/fs/ntfs/ in Linus’ tree)? Should we expect a statement about it’s removal shortly? If not, why not? How is this different?

I’m not sure how anyone could see the cases as being different, unless you go along the lines of “but Bitmover were nice to us”, which is an argument that should not hold any water.

I look forward to seeing how Linus clarifies his stand on proprietry file formats.

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Written by Alan

April 11, 2005 at 7:26 pm

Posted in General

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