CyberTech Rambler

December 16, 2009

Bruce Perens needs to get over BusyBox

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:35 pm

Bruce Perens, the person behind the idea of BusyBox but had a fall out with the BusyBox maintainer, disagreed with the current maintainer’s stand on suing people that violates BusyBox license.

After reading his statement, I cannot really tell whether he is really upset over it, or is taking advantage of the lawsuit to drive forward his grevience with the maintainers, or worse, is he trying sell his consulting service to the defendents. As far as the threat to the current maintainers with lawsuit of his own I have to ask is this a preview of what he is prepare to offer the defendents?

I sincerely hope Ryan Paul of Ars Technica is right, i.e., Perens simply have strong attachment to the BusyBox project that he is not prepared to let go. He had not contributed to BusyBox development for a long time. By the meritocracy standard of open source, he has therefore lose the right to be the voice of BusyBox.

Here is BusyBox’s account of the fallout with Perens, and their effort to expunge Perens’ code from BusyBox’s code base. While I disagree with BusyBox’s maintainer that the change from “GPL v2 or later” to “GPL v2” is trivial and Peren is wrong to be upset, I think they had done more than enough to respect Perens’ IP claims. By expunging Perens’ code from the code base, they had done enough to be able to drive the project under whichever GPL version they choose.

Quite frankly, I do not think he has content and compilation copyrights as he claims. However, since he really think so, then he should had layout his claim, at least to BusyBox maintainer, to give them a chance to examine his claims and right any wrong.. That is not only what the law expects you to, it is the usual way to deal with potential copyright infringement in the software industry, and most importantly, the honourable thing that one expect people who claims to be luminaries in Open Source to do; Not hide behind vague statements the way SCO do.

Until he does so, BusyBox has done its best to distance themselves with Perens.

As for SFLC not contacting Perens, there is no need. SFLC is only litigating on the copyrights held by the current maintainers¬† in the BusyBox project. It is not there to represent Perens’ interest. Why is this distinction important? If we follows Perens’ reasoning, i.e., that he has an interest in the lawsuit, then we wil have to include the developers of other bits and boobs that goes into BusyBox, whose contribution to BusyBox, e.g., in the form of actual source code, is a thousand times stronger than the content and compilation rights Perens claims to have.

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