Home Business IT Open Source Upstream vendors can harm small projects: OpenBSD dev

If there is a problem with not having enough people to keep up with the changes in any project, does it not mean that you are unable to attract enough developers, rather than the claim that too many changes are being made by the projects which you are trying to maintain?

The number of developers in a project like OpenBSD is another issue entirely. Attracting new people is somewhat of an issue. The problem here is that it's difficult to keep people focused on somewhat ungrateful work. Gratuitous incompatible changes are just a big mess to sort through and to port to OpenBSD. That's definitely not sexy, not fun work.

Except for very dedicated people, you attract people because they want to do fun stuff. Sorting through someone else's garbage is not very funny, yet that's what you have to do each time you port some "Linux" software.

Yet I'm still with OpenBSD, because we do some fun stuff. One good thing about a relatively small project is that, if you're a good developer, you can quickly gain some interesting responsibilities, and touch a breadth of things that would be hard to be involved in in other projects.

But I would very much prefer that our developer base spend more time doing fun stuff than coping with stupid Linux compatibility issues.

What do you mean by "It's also quickly turning POSIX and Unix into a travesty: either you have the Linux goodies, or you don't. And if you don't, you can forget anything modern..."?

It used to be that POSIX took every good thing from UNIX systems out there and turned that into a standard, with a fair evaluation of what was good.

These days, the standards process is obviously heavily biased towards Linux, even though a lot of interesting things happen in various BSD (and under Solaris, up until Oracle took over), but you won't see these in recent POSIX.

I could talk about the strlcpy() family of functions, which was adopted by almost every open source project out there outside of the glibc, for instance. Or about how, for a lot of tools, if things keep going that way, next version of POSIX will basically document GNU-sed, GNU-make, and GNU-m4...

This is kind of offensive, especially for me, after the number of hours I've spent getting our make and our m4 into something really nice and interesting, and in some parts, totally distinct from GNU stuff, yet implementing most of the current POSIX spec...

Your other quote that caught my attention was "in some cases, you even have some people, who are PAID by some vendors, aggressively pushing GRATUITOUS, non compatible changes. I won't say names, but you guys can fill the blanks in." I guess you are talking, in the main, about Lennart Pottering and Kay Sievers, both Red Hat employees. Is this correct?

I still won't fill the blanks. But I'm reasonably certain some things are not truly necessary, the likes of systemd, to take a recent fairly obnoxious example.

In other cases, there is some delightful irony: tools like autoconf and libtool were built, in the first place, to make working with UNIX systems "simpler" and "more portable". Over the recent years, I've spent WAYS more time *fighting* with that build system to convince it to do things *correctly* for OpenBSD rather than work *with it* to do new stuff.


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Sam Varghese

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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.