On Contributions – The GNOME Affair

The discussion is quite on the roll after Dave Neary gave some insight into who commits how much code to the GNOME project.

As pointed out by Greg de Koenigsberg, Red Hat has outperformed Canonical on a 16:1 ratio according to the Census. You can imagine that some of the Ubuntu fans don’t like to hear this.

So after Jeffrey Stedfast puts out his reply, we now also have Jono Bacon stepping in.

Jono’s main argument is that Canonical does a lot on top of GNOME, but on their own, using their own tools and build environment. And he calls this “contributing”.

I beg to differ.

A contribution in my view is something that ends up in the upstream project. Something that is developed outside of the project is NOT a contribution TO the project. It merely stands on the shoulders of giants, in this case the GNOME project, but it doesn’t add to the upstream project itself.

This is like kernel modules that are developed outside of the linux tree – they may run on Linux, but you cannot consider them to be PART of Linux.

So if you accept that contribution means “adding something TO the upstream project so that it is an integral part of it” the argument of Greg still holds strong. So far Red Hat has contributed 16x more to GNOME as Canonical.

Just wanted to make this clear.

Switzerland – 0wn3d by Microsoft

[NOTE – this is my PERSONAL opinion and not the official opinion of my employer]

Source in german

Background on the case: Asking Switzerland for more Neutrality

The court has decided. A tender would be disruptive to the Microsoft-only world of the swiss public. One of five judges disagrees and mentions that this effectively means there is no alternative to Microsoft and that this might not be what a free market is about.

I can only say “Congratulations” to Microsoft. Feel free to cash in the 47 million SFR of swiss taxpayers money and look forward to a perpetuum mobile. You now own the swiss public sector. This is what competition and free market is about?

The trick used here was to say that the BBL wanted to buy a defined “technology”. The “technology” however was the Microsoft range of products. By using this interpretation it was obvious that Open Source solutions cannot compete and therefore a tender was not needed.

This argumentation disrespects a fundamental fact IMHO – this “technology” is not available in a market – it is *only* available from a *single* vendor who sets the price, the features and the scope. With this fundamentally flawed argument Microsoft now effectively is even free to ask *any* price for its “technology”. A single-vendor market is typically not seen as a free market. But I guess in Switzerland they have a different definition in place. Is this a wise use of taxpayers money? I respectfully disagree.

In all european countries there is a concept called vendor-neutral procurement for public authorities. This court decision is a HOWTO on disabling that requirement in Switzerland. And THAT is the dangerous precedent set here.

I am shocked but I do respect the courts decision. Feel free to add your comments here. I will post a more indepth article as soon as I have received more information.