Wednesday, 15 January 2014

SPO600 Lab1 - Licenses

SPO600 Lab 1 - Linux Package Licensing

SPO600's first lab looks at two different Linux packages and the license agreements involved with open source software.

Firstly, looking at Audacious, a Linux audio player, which uses the GPL3 license, which is, from their website (and within the application itself), almost impossible to find on its own - Google search to the rescue it seems. The project uses a Redmine-based bug tracking system to track and submit patches/etc, and most patch implementations take anywhere from a few hours to a few months, depending on the size and severity of the problem, and from the look of things, involves the person submitting the bug/patch, and a project manager, with occasional bugs involving up to 3 or 4 people discussing an issue, but always the same project manager in the end. It seems that such a small team doesn’t require much more than a simple bug tracking system, limiting the team members responsible for implementing/upstreaming changes to repositories and keeping them in direct contact with their community. This of course also has the knock on effect that bug fixes may not always be timely, since it appears that one or two people may be doing that whole process.

Another package, x11-common, is part of the X Windows system for linux/unix distributions and uses the Mozilla-based Bugzilla bug tracking system. It’s uses a variation of the MIT license (the X11 License). As the entire X Windows system is run by an educational non-profit foundation with a dedicated board of directors, and other contributors, the team’s involvement is much less direct than a smaller team like Audacious. As such, it makes sense that they’d use a Bugzilla tracking system which is feature rich but decentralized, as the x11-common package is but one part of the larger X Windows project. Larger team means more people are able to look at and fix bugs in a more timely manner, but also makes things a bit more faceless, unless one is intimately involved with the project.

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