Subject: Re: Back to business
From: Brian Bartholomew <>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 20:53:00 -0500

Keith Bostic writes:
 > In my own case, Berkeley DB, we get almost no contributions from
 > our user base.  Users find bugs, of course, but I can count on
 > two hands the number of submissions that included an attempt at
 > a fix, and I can think of exactly two bugs where the fix was
 > right.  We have gotten exactly one feature implemented outside
 > the group.  I can think of two reasons for this: 1) DB is a
 > complex piece of code (high-concurrency, threaded,
 > transactional, recoverable, B+tree), or 2) database systems is
 > really algorithms hacking, and doesn't appeal to many people.

Russ writes:
> I can think of another reason, although I'm not an a position to
> vouch for its accuracy: 3) that your license gives you an advantage
> over any contributors.

I have given serious consideration to contributing a pile of money to
Sleepycat to implement a simple SQL layer.  I consider the existence
of such a database under such terms to be sufficiently in my business
interests that having the rest of the world as free riders is
irrelevant.  However, I think situations where the advantage is
sufficient for one person to buy a whole project are relatively rare.

I feel overall that Sleepycat's terms are in my interests, and not
against me as a contributor.  To a large extent, more-proprietary
people are subsidizing the maintenance of a piece of infrastructure
that is less proprietary.  Before contributing, I would probably want
to negotiate a guarantee of their current terms to me for some fixed
period.  I suspect they would not find this objectionable.

A member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF)
Brian Bartholomew - - - Working Version, Cambridge, MA