View on project leadership and failures....

John L. Utz III jutz at
Thu Aug 31 18:03:52 GMT 2006

At Thu, 31 Aug 2006 10:26:15 -0500,
Gerald (Jerry) Carter wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Not my own this time.... :-)
> This is a pretty good email from Charles Hannum (NetBSD).
> You might have already caught it on /.

I dont really think that you guys have too much to learn from this. If you
did, you would have been dust 5 years ago.

The things that are wrong with NetBSD where there when they un-amicably split
with their 386BSD-patchkit cohort. 

Astoundingly, it doesnt show up in this email.

The Net/2 crew felt that the true essence of BSD was aggressive cross platform
support and that this shouldnt be compromised to focus on perfecting x86.

It's not a *bad* thesis. But they took a very iconoclastic (My Way or the
Highway) view because Charles, Theo and Chris where/are kind of iconoclastic

This set them up to be perfect foils for Jordan Hubbards' (occasionally
screechingly funny) pokes.

Maybe Jordan shouldn't have taken the bait. I'll bet he wouldnt now.

So, a debate between pragmatism and perfectionism became personal and
engendered a 'Sunni vs. Shia' split. ( i hesitate to use that expression now
because to use it as an analogy about the bsd wars trivializes the sadness and
despair associated with the actual Sunni vs Shia conflict, but i've used that
analogy for more than a decade because it's a very good one )

My assertion is that pragmatism will trump perfectionism the vast majority of
the time.

NetBSD is a perfect case in point. It takes a shitload of people to make an OS
work on 1 platform. N platforms implies N shitloads of people.

Concievably, one could find N shitloads of people if the developer community
establishes a reputation of touchy-feely bonhomie and support and allows
interested people to solve problems in the way they want to solve them.

Does the previous paragraph sound like NetBSD?  No.

Recall that Theo bailed from NetBSD to form OpenBSD. To distill his rationale
thru my filter; he left because he thought that NetBSD had lost it's
ideological purity (that makes his fork the BSD Wahabi)

> We could probably point out several things of which we (Samba)
> as a project have been guilty of.  I could probably pin several
> to myself as a developer as well.

Well, probably the most salient one is that when changes come in you just
jerry-ize it to your satisfaction. That doesnt enhance the contributors' sense of

However, the *pragmatic* reason for that choice is that samba can not afford
to be broken. period. it's not a geek toy. it get's used by people who couldnt
care less about open source, they just want to get their work done on the
platform that they want to run.

So from an end user tactical perspective, i dont fault your decisionmaking.

Strategically? not so sure.....

> I'd suggest reading it and considering whether you think
> any of it is valid and is something we should openly discuss.
> I won't seed the discussion with my own thoughts just yet.
> If not, it's a good read anyways.

It is a good read. (but it still annoys me a tad to read it)

But samba has nothing to compare itself against in the open source world,
esp not NetBSD.

Would charles or theo have accepted an invitation to speak at M$FT???

Would samba choose to pull a gary kildall the way netbsd did when the embedded
industry came calling??:

 The netbsd guys had a chance to prove that they where right all along around

 M$FT wanted huge us$/device for WinCE. 
 NetBSD was smaller and faster than either WinCE or Linux. 

 Didnt Matter. 
 People that needed to get work done couldnt get work done.
 End of Story.

Oddly enuf, i'd compare samba to windows.

samba3 is like XP; a little long in the tooth, aggravating in some ways, but meets a lot of needs.

samba4 is like Vista; nifty features, keeps getting bigger. never ships.

> cheers, jerry
> =====================================================================
> Samba                                    -------
> Centeris                         -----------
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