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SubjectRe: A modest proposal -- We need a patch penguin
Date
On Monday 28 January 2002 08:53 pm, John Weber wrote:
> I would be happy to serve as patch penguin, as I plan on collecting all
> patches anyway in my new duties as maintainer of www.linuxhq.com.
>
> I am currently writing code to scan the usual places for linux patches
> and automatically add them to our databases. This would be really
> simplified by having patches sent to us. And, since we already have a
> functioning site, we have the hardware/network capacity to serve as
> a limitless queue of waiting patches for Linus. I would love nothing
> more than to update the site with information as to the status of these
> patches.
>
> ( john.weber@linux.org )

Philosophical question: Would you have a major philosophical objection to
acting as Dave Jones's secretary and webmaster? (He is the de facto current
patch penguin. I'm just asking for the position to be recognized. We need
that before we can really move forward with anything else. If you were to
queue patches for Linus and then be ignored by Linus, nothing would have been
accomplished, and if somebody ELSE then takes your work and integrates it, it
would be yet more pressure to fork the tree, pressure which I'm trying to
REDUCE here...)

Remember minix? Way way way back? Andrew Tanenbaum had a little kernel, ran
on intel hardware, came with complete source code. And he did not accept
patches, due to his minix book contract and the resulting licensing issues.
Collaborative development on Linux STARTED in the minix newsgroup, largely by
recruiting people who were frustrated at trying to get their patches into
minix.

Remember GNU? Stalled in the late 80's? For legal reasons, Richard Stallman
wanted people to physically sign over their copyrights (on paper he could put
in his file cabinet) to any code they submitted to the GNU project. This
caused way too much friction (and Richard wasn't exactly a coalition building
statesman either), and eventually people got fed up with the project and took
their code elsewhere.

These are the kind of pressures that, if they build up high enough, cause
projects to fork. It's all different trees with different patches in them,
and if the patch pressure builds up too high forking is inevitable.
(Re-integration of forks is also quite possible, they can be short lived.
But that's the same integration issue, just deferred a bit.)

I'm not saying Linux is in immediate danger of forking, I'm just saying that
code integration can be a serious limiting factor, and is a potentially
seperable problem from being a code architect. I think an explicit full-time
integration maintainer could reduce/buffer the patch pressure, and that this
could be good for the project.

Rob
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