justified ancients of mu-mu

Here are the guys on the mu forums getting all excited about the prospect of getting their little coder hands on ‘all of the code behind WP.com’ (direct quote) and then I have to go and ruin things by actually asking about it and getting told a) this is already happening, except b) it’s kind of not exactly:

It’s not line-for-line WordPress.com, as some things aren’t or can’t be easily genericized for release, like our stats system, but the codebase is synced up pretty regularly.

I feel like such a party pooper.

Of course, as Matt reminded them months ago, even under the GPL Automattic have no obligation to release all the code, and it would make zero commercial sense to do so. All these other guys should just get together and fork their own. Or learn Perl and set up lj clones.

(And yes, I was going to check out how many changes have been made to mu since wordpress.com came online, but sadly trac.mu.wordpress.org has gone missing and has apparently been gone for a few days now. Shall I go ask about it in wp-hackers and see how many whimsical reflections on the nature of time I get?)

10 Comments »

  1. Matt said

    Sometimes you’re reasonable, but this is BS. Donncha spends a ton of his time merging the codebase both with WP core and with .com improvements, it’s actually a PITA, but because we all believe in Open Source we take the trouble. MU used to be a completely divergent codebase that was more closely related to b2 than WP. Now it’s synced anywhere from daily to every other week, depending on the stability of WP core changes. (While working out post_type and bookmark bugs, we held off for a few weeks.)

    Same with the secure-admin plugin. Same with blicki. Same with all of the theme work we’ve done here that we’re going to be releasing. Commercial benefit to going to the extra trouble? Zero.

    Even on the Akismet side we’re doing special deals for folks like edublogs so they can use it without paying the fees that anyone normally running thousands of blogs would. Again, no commercial benefit to doing this.

    You can download MU today and have a system that can host thousands of blogs out of the box. On a proper linux box, the install is even easier than WordPress. I did my best to answer your questions on my blog candidly and openly, I didn’t realize you’d be trying to twist my words back on me. I realize you contribute so much to the WP community that it’s easy to condescend, but at least on this point please show a tiny sliver of acknowledgement to the tremendous amount of work that goes into what we do, however flawed and imperfect our efforts to do the right thing may be.

  2. wank said

    I realize you contribute so much to the WP community that it’s easy to condescend

    Watch the condescension. OK, so I’m not a PHP coder with a gift for self-promotion, but I’ve done what I can by helping out in both the .org and .com forums, developing themes and filing bugs where I find them. Like all support volunteers and most designers, I didn’t do that for recognition, or kudos, or gratitude, or money (I’d be bitterly disappointed, if that had been the case). I didn’t even do it for the right to comment. I’m a wordpress user. I happen to think I’d have the right to comment anyway. Currently one of my ways of ‘contributing to the community’ is to keep them informed, to the best of my ability, about where you’re taking them and what’s being screwed-up where. There are quite enough fanboys already giving you the fulsome praise and acknowledgment you deserve. Somebody has to play devil’s advocate.

    Now, I browse through the mu forums and I see threads where people aren’t happy. I see them complaining that development is insufficiently open and that wp.com stuff isn’t making it back into core mu code. They may be lying. They may be uninformed. They may have been telling the truth a few months ago and the situation may have changed since. And yes, if you were seriously chasing dollars you’d have Donncha using his time more profitably than backporting stuff into mu… but you make it sound like a one-way street. You make it sound like Automattic are the lofty benefactors gifting their hard work to the unwashed masses, and isn’t it annoying and time-consuming but we force ourselves to do it because we’re so noble. And I’m having trouble believing that your target user for mu is really incapable of contributing anything that would benefit mu (and, by extension, wordpress.com). I’ve got a thread open in another tab where they’re getting RSS import to work. We get requests for RSS import in the .com forums all the time. (I happen to think it would be a bad idea, but that’s by the way). But trac’s still down. And some of the guys have resorted to setting up their own repository for patches . Please reassure me that open-source doesn’t just mean ‘we give you code when we don’t have to’ but also ‘you can give us code when you don’t have to’, and I’ll be happy to leave the mu snark to those who are actually using it

    I know you do a lot you don’t have to. You didn’t have to release the identities of your investors. You didn’t have to answer any questions candidly or openly, and I appreciate the fact that you did. And even though I don’t agree with everything that’s been done since, I appreciate that you picked up the b2 ball and ran with it after Michel exercised his right to not do anything anymore.

    (Six Apart should appreciate it too, as otherwise I would probably be sitting on livejournal throwing tomatoes at them.)

  3. ray said

    Re the GPL comment. AFAIK, if you release anything under the GPL, you have to make the code available – whether on the internet in an available place, or on request.
    From the preamble: http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html

    For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.

    From the terms and Conditions:

    3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

    a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

    b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

    c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

  4. wank said

    Ah, but they’ve not released it. They’re using it in a production environment, which is different. As far as I can make out (still not a lawyer), if you hack someone’s application and redistribute your version, you have to make the source code available. Of course, if you redistribute your forked version of WP, the code’s all there anyway so the point is moot. The GPL wasn’t written with PHP in mind.

    Forcing everyone to make all their code tweaks publicly available would be completely impractical. The GPL doesn’t distinguish between individuals and corporations, so if you said wordpress.com had to publish all their changes the same would apply to anyone who’s ever written their own theme, or dipped into a functions file to edit something they didn’t like.

  5. ray said

    Well, that is the price you pay for using the GPL. There are other licences available which will do what is needed.

    The essence of the GPL is that ifyou have GPL programs or if your programs come from GPL code, then it’s all GPL. You are able to break your program down and say “this” part is GPL and “that” part is proprietary.

  6. wank said

    If I have a wordpress blog, I’m using wordpress. If I have a zip file on my site with copies of all my wordpress files and a link saying ‘click here to download’, I am ‘copying and distributing’ it. The two are not interchangeable.

    If you’re arguing that every behind-the-scenes tweak to get your wordpress blog running the way you want it must be released to the public, either you’re misinterpreting it or the GPL is even more bonkers than I’ve always thought.

  7. ray said

    If you release something under a licence, you can’t pick and choose the bits you want to adhere to – otherwise, you should just create your own licence.

    If you were to spend a large amount of your time and energy to create something, wouldn’t you want to know that if I use it as part of my program, I have to stick to the rules you imposed? Otherwise you may as well not bother, especially if I decide to charge for my program.

  8. options said

    Hello Wank
    I’m a newbie so what is “GPL” and /or what is its signifance please?

    source

    gotcha😉

  9. wank said

    I’m letting Podz handle it, he’s the one who’s getting paid😉

  10. ray said

    Wise choice😉

    Options: GPL information can be found here: http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html

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