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But when Fontana was asked about the reasoning behind the fork and when a trial version would be ready for public viewing, his response was rather surprising.

"Your statements are mistaken. I have not initiated any fork. Other than that, I have no comment: only the project co-maintainer, Bradley Kuhn, is authorized (sic) to speak to the media," he wrote back.

When I then asked whether both Phipps and the Linux Weekly News were lying, the Red Hat counsel took a different track.

"No. They are certainly NOT lying. You are not reading me right," he wrote. "The project has, in fact, officially clarified that it is not a "fork", which corrects a possible terminological/conceptual misunderstanding nondevelopers in particular may have. No further comment."

Kuhn was taken aback when he heard of this statement. "I'm as confused and surprised by the statement quoted above as you appear to be," he said. "I really don't understand what Fontana is talking about."

He said he was listed as a committer on gitorious "because Fontana added me as such, but that action can be taken unilaterally by the project creator (Fontana). He did not seek my permission before doing so.

"That said, I'm willing to give advice and assistance to any project that wants to explore ideas about copyleft, but I am in no way among the leadership nor directly involved with the copyleft.next (formerly GPL.next) project.

"To clarify the situation, I've asked Fontana, who unilaterally added me as a "committer" on copyleft.next, to remove me as such."

Fontana wrote back, saying: "I had assumed Bradley wanted to participate in the project as a committer in urging strongly that the project be centralized (sic) at Gitorious rather than GitHub.

"But anyway Bradley has been removed from the Gitorious project as a committer in accordance with his wishes.

"Sam, for the benefit of your leg not being pulled any further, this is for the most part (~90%+) not a serious project. It was initiated merely as a toy project as a way for me to learn more about using git. I am happy to report that after several days my knowledge of git has increased significantly. That doesn't seem very newsworthy to me."

The Free Software Foundation was asked for its take on Fontana's fork. The organisation has not yet responded.

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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