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Forking Time

Oct 01, 2010, 20:02 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bruce Byfield)

"According to one theory of history, in the right circumstances, certain developments are inevitable. Given a few decades of an industrial revolution, half a dozen people will invent the steam engine. Given a few decades of biological studies, and theories of evolution start to emerge. If that is so, then for the last year or so in the history of the free and open source software community we have been in Forking Time -- and for the life of me, I can't decide whether this is a healthy development or not.

"Certainly, there have been no shortages of recent forks although they do not always go by that name. In fact, those involved in forks often go to great lengths to deny that they are forking, perhaps to avoid being stigmatized as argumentative and uncooperative.

"MySQL alone has had at least four forks (Percona, Our Delta, MariaDB, and Drizzle). Recently, LibreOffice, an offshoot of OpenOffice.org, was announced. So was Trinity KDE, which exists to continue development of the KDE 3 release series rather than working with the current KDE 4 series. Ubuntu's innovations on the GNOME desktop are also looking increasingly like a fork, since they are not being contributed (or, perhaps, accepted) into the main GNOME project."

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