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Re: plagiarism of reiserfs by Debian

On Sun, 20 Apr 2003 22:45:59 -0500, Steve Langasek wrote:

> On Mon, Apr 21, 2003 at 06:54:42AM +0400, Hans Reiser wrote:
>> It is really a question of, do you respect the authors? 
> Who do you respect, Hans?  Many Debian Developers are also Free
> Software authors.  How much respect are you showing us with your
> brazen accusations of impropriety?

How would you like it if somebody distributed your software with
changes you didn't like, and with your name filed off?  It's not so
hard to understand that it might at least momentarily make you feel
offended and reconsider whether using the GPL was really a good idea.

> Do you realize that after a brace of beautifully crafted
> non-specific rants on your part, most members of the Debian
> community reading this thread have *no idea* what offense you're
> referring to?

It seems fairly easy to understand that Hans is upset that Debian has
removed the startup message from mkfs.  By modifying the program
against the wishes of the upstream maintainer Debian is creating what
some people call a "hostile fork".

Certainly the GPL allows anybody to fork projects, but I'd hope it's
clear that gratuitous forking is not polite behavior, nor in the long
term interests of either Debian's users or the project itself.  Not
everything that is permitted is beneficial.

"We don't care what the author wants, we have the legal right to
change what we like" is not a good message to send.  Even if you don't
use the package in question, other maintainers reading this thread
might be less willing to cooperate with Debian in future.

There is some validity to #152547; in some circumstances having a big
banner at startup is inconvenient.  However just cutting it out is not
a good way to resolve the bug.  The maintainer made a mistake here.
It ought to be obvious that removing a author/sponsor notice would be
likely to offend.  It would have been much better to contact the
upstream author and ask for a shorter message, a --quiet option, or
displaying the message during installation, etc.  

Please talk to the upstream author about changes, especially in
sensitive areas.  Please don't just unilaterally fork unless there is
no alternative.  A little cooperation is needed.


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