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History lesson

21.02.2009 by bsiegert@

Today I read “The unknown hackers”, a piece about Bill and Lynne Jolitz, the creators of the 386BSD operating system.

On exhibitions and conferences, we are often asked by visitors why the hell we forked form OpenBSD. The same argument, namely that we should have been content with submitting patches instead of forking, is sometimes brought forward by OpenBSD devs. But here is the thing: We did this at the beginning but nobody wanted them—not even a reply to the mail in most cases. What is funny is that according to the article, the situation was very similar in the early 1990s, when FreeBSD and later NetBSD forked from 386BSD:

“The Jolitzes [...] seem to have tried to control quality by doing most of the work themselves. This inevitably made their release cycle slow, but it was also an implied snub to would-be collaborators – who took their contributions elsewhere. [...] By the time 1.0 was released, the x86BSD user community had fragmented. Some developers had moved to the more active and open NetBSD and FreeBSD teams. [The Jolitzes] were criticized for their autocratic style. The strength of their convictions did not endear them to people who wanted to do things differently.”

Funny how history repeats itself, isn't it?

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