Home Business IT Open Source Maintainer of two GNU software projects quits

The maintainer of the Free Software Foundation's GNU grep and GNU sed projects has resigned, after looking after them for three and eight years respectively.

Paolo Bonzini said in a message, in which he also announced the release of a new version of GNU sed, that he had decided to sever his links with the two software initiatives due to technical and administrative decisions with the Free Software Foundation and its head, Richard M. Stallman.

GNU grep is an utility for finding specified patterns in files; GNU sed takes text input, performs some operation (or set of operations) on it and outputs the modified text.

Bonzini said he had also given up commit access to several other software projects associated with the FSF - Autoconf, Automake, Libtool, gnulib, libsigsegv and Bison.

He mentioned the inability to improve coding standards and change from one language to another for coding as one reason for quitting. "Sometimes, having a single person take executive decisions is a good thing. It is likely not possible to convince a diverse group such as the group of GNU maintainers to agree on coding standards for C++, for example," he wrote.

"However, all Stallman had to offer on the topic was "We still prefer C to C++, because C++ is so ugly" (sic).  As a result of this, the GNU coding standards have not seen any update in years and are entirely obsolete."

A second reason Bonzini cited was that the GNU Project was not doing anything for the FSF or vice versa. For example, the FSF was not trying to improve the GNU brand, something that needed to be done because free software was now being produced by multiple sources.

Bonzini said attaching the GNU label to a project did not make it attractive any more. "Being part of GNU is not an emblem of technical leadership anymore, either. 'If it is done poorly in Unix, feel free to replace it completely with something totally different and better'. Is this still true of today's GNU?" he asked.

This is not the only case of a maintainer of GNU software having problems with the project.

Earlier this month, Nikos Mavrogiannopoulos, the maintainer of GnuTLS, "a secure communications library implementing the SSL, TLS and DTLS protocols and technologies around them", moved it outside the GNU Project due to what he said was a major disagreement with the FSF's decisions and practices.

Stallman set up the FSF back in the early 1980s with the mission of developing a free operating system that could be used by all.

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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.

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