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In Memoriam: the free software projects we lost in 2010

Jan 11, 2011, 13:02 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Nathan Willis)

"In November I wrote about the apparent demise of the well-known mail delivery agent procmail, which has not been updated since 2001, but is still routinely packaged by Linux distributions. Whatever your feelings about procmail itself, the story prompted a discussion in the comment threads that we revisit periodically as a community: what exactly does it mean for a free or open source project to die anyway?

"There is no one "right answer;" the context of the project, its governance, user community, and the opinion of the debaters make for a wide spectrum of definitions. The process of single-vendor project shutting down can instantaneously switch off source code access, online documentation, and mailing lists. More often, the tools and trappings of a project atrophy one at a time; the documentation wiki slips behind the current release, the milestones never make it past "alpha" announcements on the mailing list and onto the Downloads page, and the user forum slowly transforms into a refugee camp where abandoned users help each other patch and shoehorn the aging code into compatibility with newer system libraries."

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