[gccsdk] Firefox 2 patches

Peter Teichmann lists at peter-teichmann.de
Wed Mar 28 14:14:11 PDT 2007

Am Mittwoch, 21. März 2007 05:22 schrieb Peter Naulls:
> In message <1757c4c64e.Jo at hobbes.bass-software.com>
>           John Tytgat <John.Tytgat at aaug.net> wrote:
> > In message <20070320105313.GC22265 at chiark.greenend.org.uk>
> >           Theo Markettos <theo at markettos.org.uk> wrote:
> >
> > And I might point out that releasing the patches is /required/: the MPL
> > doesn't give you any option on that question.
> Let's hop down from druck's high horse for just a moment.  No doubt he
> thinks he's doing everyone a huge favour by "forcing" me to comply with
> it, but this is again the short-term thinking I'm so opposed to, and
> very much the attitude he predicted some years ago could and did drive
> developers away.  If push comes to shove, then I will supply a tarball
> with everything and no further help, and will have washed my hands of
> the whole affiar.  But instead, if we're actually still interested in
> collaborative development, as I'm certain you are, then perhaps we can
> give me the benefit of the doubt and go about this in a more productive
> manner that helps everyone.

I have watched this discussion now for a while. It is sad to see capable 
people stuck in this fight without getting the real point. Hopefully I can 
help to get it a bit towards the right direction.

What was the reason for the amazing success of open source software? In my 
opinion, the main reasons is the availability of the source code. This allows 
all interested and capable people to contribute to the development process. 
The source is often a trap that catches programmers who just wanted to fix 
this small bug but then were suddenly trapped in. That's it: you trap people 
who did not know that they want to help. And I do not only mean programmers, 
for bigger pieces of software we need a lot more people, and even managers 
(yes, really!). Some people (like Richard Stallman) have recognized this 
process very early, others later, and some will maybe never understand this.

Unfortunately, the open source idea was never very popular under RISC OS. We 
were all big individualists, otherwise we would have used a PC.

What does that mean for our Firefox debate? In my opinion it means, that you, 
Peter Naulls, should make use of the advantage that open source offers. You 
should release the source not only because you have to, but also for the 
benefits you may get if it is not too late already. What benefits can that be? 
You can get help with things you probably do not like so much, as 
documentation and support for users. You can get help with subsystems which 
you maybe are not so familiar with, especially the used libraries. If more 
than one person work together, they can specialize on different parts. 
Specialization brought mankind a big leap ahead. And finally, twenty eyes 
always see more than two.

But this means not only releasing the source. It means also that you will have 
to organize the team work and take care of the animosities of your 
co-workers. All your work, all your reputation means nothing if you can not 
offer them conditions under which they like to help you. Here the management 
part comes in, which contains a good part psychology. Releasing the source is 
a good way to create trust and demonstrate that it will be not only your work 
but the work of  a team. You do not catch people with logic, you catch them 
with emotions. Even programmers. You do not have anything else to push them!

All that is the price you have to pay when you want to achieve more than one 
person can do by its own work. You have to pay in advance, without knowing if 
you really get something back. But this is the only chance how you can 
finally be successful with Firefox for RISC OS. If you are not able to move 
the project towards this direction, all your work will be in vain because you 
can not constantly keep your patches consistent with the upstream Firefox 
development. I do not know if there are enough people who can help you, but 
if you do not try, you will never find out.

On the other hand, what do you have to loose?

Good luck,
Peter Teichmann

You say it is not your fault, but the other's.
But that does not get you any further, even if it is true.
The only thing you can change is yourself,
and often that changes the others too ;-)

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