April 8, 2005 1:34 PM PDT
Torvalds looking for new Linux home
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the system for free. But that led to efforts to reproduce its abilities, which McVoy spurned. On Wednesday, BitMover announced it will discontinue that free product, instead offering only an open-source alternative that's not powerful enough to support all Linux programmers.
"This is not an attempt to extract money from the open-source community. It's an attempt to protect our intellectual property," McVoy said in an interview. Not that he hasn't considered the value of what his company has offered: In a February posting, McVoy estimated that Linux programmers' use of BitKeeper software would cost at least $65 million per year.
Among those who criticized Torvalds' adoption of BitKeeper was Richard Stallman, the programmer who founded the Free Software Foundation to promote software that's free of such proprietary constraints. In 2002, he suggested creating free software that could interoperate with BitKeeper.
Recently, Andrew Tridgell, a lead programmer for the open-source Samba project and, like Torvalds, an employee of Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), has begun work to do just that. However, he hasn't publicly released the software, called SourcePuller.
"I did write a tool that is interoperable with BitKeeper," Tridgell said in an interview. "I did not use BitKeeper at all in writing this tool and thus was never subject to the BitKeeper license. I developed the tool in a completely ethical and legal manner."
OSDL hired Tridgell to work full-time on Samba, the consortium said in a statement. "Any other projects he pursues are his own," OSDL said.
BitMover, based in South San Francisco, Calif., and founded in 1998, offered free use of the software for Linux programmers for two reasons, McVoy said: to aid marketing and because he has been Torvalds' friend for more than 10 years.
And Torvalds has said the use of BitKeeper has improved Linux development dramatically. "I'm personally very happy with BK, and with Larry. It didn't work out, but it sure as hell made a big difference to kernel development," Torvalds said Wednesday. "I'm convinced it caused us to do things in better ways, and one of the things I'm looking at is to make sure that those things continue to work."
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