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Re: the ncurses "brushfire" -- anybody want to take over the project?

> "Eric S. Raymond" <esr@snark.thyrsus.com> writes:
> > Michael Alan Dorman wrote:
> > >ESR has, IMHO, decided to start a pissing match about ncurses
> > >development.  I have no desire to participate or watch.
> > Mr. Dorman's opinion is understandable but mistaken.
> Although I feel a deep and abiding disgust at Mr. Daniels' actions,
> the mistake of posting something to email in a moment of frustration
> was entirely mine.  Mea Culpa.  I apologize.
> And although I would offer, in my defense, that my opinion also grew
> out of an unfortunate and foolish ignorance of the specific copyright
> on ncurses, I nevertheless apologize for my words.

I accept your apology without reservation, sir.  And I hope we can
cooperate to help resolve this unpleasantness in the best interests of
the free-software community at large.

> Mind you, I *still* think that you're rhetoric is excessively
> inflammatory.

That is your privilege.  I will only respectfully submit that if you'd
been through all the crap I've had to deal with over this mess, you
might sound a little intemperate yourself.

> However now that I *have* done what I should have done two years ago
> and familiarized myself with the license, I think that there is a
> significant problem with the ncurses license as it stands---in that it
> does not guarantee anyone the right to distribute modified versions.
> Without this guarantee, written into the license, Debian cannot use
> ncurses.  And even if you were to grant us special dispensation, our
> informal charter would forbid us using ncurses as the base of our
> product---it would be, at best, a compatability library.
> And you have, I believe, stated that you are unwilling to see ncurses
> released with a license that guarantees redistribution or modified
> versions at this time.
> How do we resolve this issue?

I don't yet know.  I believe Debian's position on this is (a)
unreasonable, and (b) not even internally consistent.  Are you going
to also cease immediately distributing all of the important software
released under the Artistic License and similar ones?

I shall take the liberty of quoting an earlier private reply from me
to you on this same issue:

> I have personally been involved in over forty cooperative
> free-software projects.  I am one of the very few full-time freeware
> hackers; I have forgone a five-figure income to do this kind of work
> for many years.  I am proud of my long record of service to the community
> and have every intention of continuing it. 
> If you feel you can't trust me not to abuse the reserved rights in the
> ncurses license, then you'd better give up the whole game.  Because you'll
> see legal trouble from a long platoon of hoarders, newbies, flakes, and
> outright crazies before you'll ever see any from me.  If you want to
> worry about tiny marginal risks, worry about *them*.  Or software patents
> or something.  Dammit, I've *earned* your trust, or should have.

I must further state that the hijacking of ncurses has hardened my position
about not giving up the right to veto modified redistributions.  Before, the
kind of ram-the-plunger-in-sideways injury I've received from Thomas Dickey
was only a theoretical worry to me.  Now it's brutally practical.

There are now at least two parties (Peter Seebach and Florian LaRoche) who
have volunteered to take over the primary-maintainer role.  I have stated
publicly that I would be willing to assign my rights to a trustworthy third
party.  I hope this will provide the basis of a formula on which we can go
		<a href="http://www.ccil.org/~esr";>Eric S. Raymond</a>

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