Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Open Source Software

Ask Slashdot: Spreading the Word About At-Risk Open Source Projects? 115

Posted by timothy
from the do-not-go-gentle-into-that-good-night dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There is a piece of software, released under the Modified BSD license, that risks becoming abandonware and, IMHO, is worth being saved. Where can I post an announcement to find people than can take care of it?" This seems like a problem that a lot of projects run into; is there a clearinghouse for open-source projects at risk?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: Spreading the Word About At-Risk Open Source Projects?

Comments Filter:
  • Create a project on one of the FOSS repos. Flag it as needing a maintainer.

    You may need to GPL it.

    • by 0racle (667029)
      Can't change the license if you're not the copyright holder.

      To the submitter, one way of getting the word out is to actually name and link to the at-risk software in question.
      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        The BSD license authorize anyone to change the license to GPL or proprietary, so it is totally possible.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          No version of the BSD license allows any such thing. Clause 1 of all versions of the license explicitly forbids such a thing, in fact. You may make it difficult to separate the BSD code from GPL or propriety code by thoroughly intertwining it, or not even distributing it at all if it's proprietary, but you cannot actually change the license of the BSD licensed code.

    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      GPL it? Why? Maybe let the new maintainer decide, rather than deciding for them?

      • by Tsingi (870990)
        The repo may require it. If you don't have the rights (as another poster mentioned) then I guess you can't use the repo.
        • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday October 06, 2011 @10:59AM (#37625958) Homepage Journal
          The OP's situation involves software under what appears to be a 3-clause BSD license, which is a GPL-compatible free software license. Which repositories require specifically the GPL as opposed to GPL-compatible free software licenses in general?
          • by afabbro (33948)

            Which repositories require specifically the GPL as opposed to GPL-compatible free software licenses in general?

            GNU Savannah just says "Use a license compatible with the GNU GPL, and use the "or any later version" formulation in your license notices."

            • Which doesn't contradict anything that the grandparent said. MIT and BSD licenses are GPL compatible. Any license that is more permissive than the GPL is GPL compatible, because the GPL only states that code may not have more restrictions placed on it than are present in the GPL (thus GPLv3 is incompatible with GPLv2, because it includes restrictions not present in GPLv2). You can include a BSDL component in a GPL'd project. There are a few BSDL projects hosted on GNU Savannah, although not very many.
            • by exomondo (1725132)

              Which repositories require specifically the GPL as opposed to GPL-compatible free software licenses in general?

              GNU Savannah just says "Use a license compatible with the GNU GPL, and use the "or any later version" formulation in your license notices."

              So GNU Savannah does NOT require specifically the GPL as opposed to GPL-compatible free software licenses, in fact the passage you quoted explicitly states that.

        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          So, the new maintainer can maintain a fork, have the original mention the fork as the successor application, and GPL the fork.

          Not a challenge.

      • by Urkki (668283)

        There are people who are reluctant to put effort into a project, which can be just taken by a company and put into a closed source product. And looking at the size of GNU/Linux world, compared to xBSD world, I'd say there are more of these people, than people who'd rather contribute to BSD licensed project. So switching to GPL might improve chances of the project staying alive.

        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          But if you aren't going to maintain it yourself, why make that choice for the future maintainer? Leave the option up to them. Especially since the reverse change is a lot harder to manage.

          • by Urkki (668283)

            Yeah, if just putting the source out there, then sure, best leave it up to the hypothetical future maintainer.

          • by SomePgmr (2021234)
            Exactly. If you don't have anything to offer in the way of work and improvements, then you haven't really forked the project. If you don't have that, then worrying about how you're going to license your non-fork is dumb. ;)

            Any new maintainer will do as they please with it, regardless of what you do. The point is to advertise that an existing project needs maintainers.
        • There are people who are reluctant to put effort into a project, which then may not be usable by them in some future situation. And, looking at the number of active contributors to LLVM, compared to GCC, I'd say there are more of these people than people who'd rather contribute to a GPL'd project. Sticking with the BSDL might improve chances of the project staying alive.

          See? It works both ways. Oh, and for the record I get paid to write BSDL code fairly often, but I've never been paid to write GPL'd co

          • by Urkki (668283)

            I was talking about the entire (partially overlapping, of course) ecosystems, you're taking an individual piece of software, so I'd say my case is stronger. But of course if a company is going to adopt an abandoned open source project, then they are more likely to prefer BSD license. It depends on a type of the software, and whether an individual or a business is expected/hoped to pick it up.

            • You said Linux (which is a tiny project with about 70 regular contributors) compared to *BSD. I picked another project. If you're talking about the entire ecosystem, then you might consider things like the entire Apache ecosystem, which are more permissively licensed than the GPL, things like OpenOffice (LGPL), the Mozilla family (triple licensed, MPL, LGPL, and GPL), X11 (MIT license). Even things like GTK and Qt and the core libraries for common desktop environments are LGPL, not GPL'd.
        • There are people who are reluctant to put effort into a project, which can be just taken by a company and put into a closed source product. And looking at the size of GNU/Linux world, compared to xBSD world, I'd say there are more of these people, than people who'd rather contribute to BSD licensed project.

          Looking at Postgres (or, at least from its activity, SQLite) vs. any GPL-licensed RDBMS project, I'd say the reverse -- looser license are better at attracting effort.

          OTOH, its more likely that the import

          • by bmcage (785177)
            My reading would be: for the plumbing layer use BSD or pulic domain, but for the value on top of that (office, desktop apps, ...), use GPL.

            The idea being that the technically inclined want their tools to be used as much as possible, whereas the apps are many, and people like the extra protection GPL gives their contribution.

  • Oh I get it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You're trying to find someone who will work for free to maintain a piece of software with dubious usefulness just because you like it.

    You got 2 options:

    1. Learn to program it and maintain it yourself.
    2. Pay someone to do it for you.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Most likely, although I do come across projects from time to time that have been abandoned for years that would have been useful if they had made it to critical mass. And those sorts of projects can easily die if they don't attract enough attention early on to handle the lead developer leaving.

      • by mroracle (117624)

        I agree, look at FreeNX, this is great software but it has been dead for quite a while.

      • Re:Oh I get it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @11:03AM (#37625996) Homepage

        When I come across a project like that, I ask myself the question "Why did this project not make it to critical mass?" Chances are very good it's one of the following:
        1. It really wasn't that useful, just a fairly good idea that turned out to be not worth the effort.
        2. It's handled better or at least well enough by a larger more established project.
        3. It's targeting a problem that's only a problem to a tiny number of people.

        I'm not saying there isn't some project infancy mortality due to failure to publicize, but if it's really that good, either the original developer will want to keep working on it (because it's useful to him), or that developer will be enamored of it enough to show to his / her friend, who finds it useful enough to keep working on it.

        And GP is right that if your problem is that there's only a tiny number of people who need the project, and you are a part of that minority, the right thing to do is either take it on yourself or pay somebody to help you out.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Of course it could also be that the software was ahead of it's time or the original developer was too hard to work with. It could also be that the developer wrote it for a specific need and then put it out there in case someone wants it but has no time/interest to maintain a public project.

          But it is useful to ask oneself if it's 1-3 first.

    • You're trying to find someone who will work for free to maintain a piece of software with dubious usefulness just because you like it.

      You got 2 options:

      1. Learn to program it and maintain it yourself.

      2. Pay someone to do it for you.

      I'll take this opportunity to point out that, if this had been a piece of commercial software where the corporation behind it was gone, your options would be:

      1.

      2.

      This is the power of OSS. You still have options when things don't go the way you'd hoped.

      • 3. learn about RE and code injection.

        It is used in extreme case...

    • hate to say it, but for the most part this is true.
      if it were useful for everyone, in general, it would survive on it's own. Sort of one of the points of open source really.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      Bit of a shame this was posted anonymously, because it's 100% true yet many readers filter anonymous cowards. There are few better ways to find out how interesting a software project is to the world at large than releasing it as F/OSS and seeing who - if anyone - picks up on it.

      It's something that many of us who advocate F/OSS need to be careful of.

      If a company goes to the wall, the idea that all their customers are guaranteed to be SOL is just plain wrong. The likelihood is that some other company will buy

      • If a F/OSS project goes to the wall, however, you're pretty much on your own.

        Only if you're the only user of the project. If you're the only user of a piece of proprietary code, no one is going to care about you when the company goes bust - the best you can hope for is being able to buy the code outright from the receivers. If you're the only user of a piece of F/OSS code, then you may want to invest some money in maintaining it.

        If there are lots of users, then you won't be the only one with a vested interest in seeing it not die. At least some of these would probably find it c

  • what's the name? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @10:50AM (#37625850)

    So you want to spread the word but won't even give out the name?

    • Re:what's the name? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by 6Yankee (597075) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @10:56AM (#37625920)
      If the submitter had given the name, the comments would be full of people bitching about slashvertisments.
    • If the poster had given the name, the focus might have been on how to safe that particular project whilst the question is more general (and more important). What infrastructure has open source got in place to safe abandoned software projects in general?
      • True but for someone interested.in helping the question asker I can't do so without the software's name.

        • Except by pointing out general places where orphaned OSS projects can be advertized for adoption :)
          • That's all fine and dandy but if I don't know the projects name how will I know which request.for.help is his? As I said if help him with maintaining the project but I can't help without knowing its name. I'm offering to help here and now. If I'm going to have to wait forever for him to post his request on some other site then I'll just move on. No big loss for me.

  • by Niris (1443675) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @10:53AM (#37625886)
    Depending on the size of the project you may want to see if any students looking for a graduation project would want to pick it up
    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      This seems like a good suggestion and isn't getting much play.....commenting because I don't have mod points and hoping this gives more credence to this answer.

    • by jd (1658)

      He runs the Unmaintained Free Software archive. It's currently down but the best thing would seem to be to contact him and get the project listed.

      The next step would be to get the aforementioned students interested in picking up projects listed on his site. There are A LOT. Some probably deserves junking, but other projects are of high importance and should be picked up.

      It would be great if Google's Summer of Code could involve not just proven teams working on proven projects, but could also include revival

  • Fork it (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 06, 2011 @10:55AM (#37625906)

    Well, first of all, there's no such thing as "abandonware" in open source. The term is used to describe closed source program in which was offered at one point and then largely forgotten about by its developers and therefore not ported to newer operating systems and/or architectures despite having an active or semi-active user base.

    With open source software, the code is always available so anyone who wants to continue maintaining it can always do so. If you, as a user, care enough about the project, and the maintainer seems to have left town, then it's up to you to continue maintaining it and/or fork your own version. If you're not a developer, then hire one. You can't just rally the community and say, "hey there, somebody please support this software for me! It's BSD-licensed so I don't have to pay you!"

    • You can't just rally the community and say, "hey there, somebody please support this software for me! It's BSD-licensed so I don't have to pay you!"

      Of course you can. It's just that you'll most likely not be very successful.

    • by jd (1658)

      Not true, I'm afraid. VSIPL++ was GPLed for some time by CodeSourcery. When they were bought up by Mentor Graphics, the GPL version ceased to be available. Anywhere. It is not on their site, requests for information reveal only that it was funded by the USAF and that when the funding stopped so did the project.

      I know of nobody who possesses a copy of that last GPLed VSIPL++ library. I know of no repository hosting it. I know of no developer attempting to maintain it. There will be binaries out there, since

      • by KritonK (949258)
        I've no idea what VSIPL++ is, but would http://www.hpec-si.org/vsipl++-2005Jun29.tgz [hpec-si.org] be what you're looking for? I found the link using a quick google search.
        • by jd (1658)

          No, that's the reference implementation. Code Sourcery developed a much more powerful, much more rounded version up until about 2009-2010. Whilst the 2005 reference version could certainly be used, you lose all of the (GPLed) developments over the half decade since then. And in the digital signal processing world, that's a hell of a lot of development.

          VSIPL++ is a signal processing library. I track it (and about a hundred other pieces of science/engineering projects) in part because this kind of stuff in th

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Isn't that for it's hundreds or thousands of users to decide, one of which might be willing to save it himself/herself?

    Software that doesn't get used, dies.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 06, 2011 @11:10AM (#37626082)

    Try sending the project a DMCA Cease and Decist notice, and then post a story in slashdot about some patent troll bullying an open source project.

    Then watch as the streisand effect does its magic.

  • by Lando (9348) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `hsals+2odnal'> on Thursday October 06, 2011 @11:20AM (#37626230) Homepage Journal

    Generally open source software are scratch projects, ie I have an itch so I scratch it. If something isn't maintained, it either works well enough as it is or isn't used. If you want to keep work going on it and are not a programmer you have 3 real solutions, ie pay to have it worked on, try to interest others in working on it by advertising via websites(slashdot / freshmeat / sourceforge / github /etc), personal emails to people that might want to work on it, or any other means of communication, eg attend a local Lug, etc, the last option of course is to learn how to program and scratch the itch yourself.

    The biggest issue is the license the software is released under. If GPL, just fork the code and get to work. If under a more restrictive license your hands are pretty much tied. Proprietary software dies quite frequently, opensource might get mothballed for years and then get pulled back out when someone has an itch to scratch.

  • Ack, "that risks becoming abandonware?" How do you know?

    It might be pretty insulting for the current maintainer to find out that you think the software is not advancing quickly enough. I mean, if there's really nothing going on, new patches aren't being incorporated, etc., then, yeah, it might be a good time to look at some options. If it is just that the current maintainer isn't doing what you want, working hard to support your current platform, is doing this on weekends when they have some spare time,

  • by chrish (4714) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @11:29AM (#37626390) Homepage

    Lots and lots of dead/abandoned Open Source projects at sourceforge.net, codeplex.com, etc.

    I don't think we need a new service for this, just go look for projects that haven't been updated in 3+ years, you'll find lots of them.

    • by jd (1658)

      Too late. Uwe Hermann has been running a service since around 2002 for abandoned Open Source software, maybe longer. And, yes, it's been on Slashdot a few times (thank you Google).

    • by dargaud (518470)
      There are also a lot of widely used projects that haven't been updated in years, simply because they are finished, believe it or not.
  • Have you already tried to contact the project lead(s)? Maybe they'd help you take it over, or your interest could encourage him/her/them to get going again, etc...
  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium@ y a hoo.com> on Thursday October 06, 2011 @12:02PM (#37626974)

    Send a request to freshmeat.net for a search feature allowing you to search for projects that haven't been updated for a long time.

    • by captjc (453680)

      Better yet, they can set up a new website that has all the projects that haven't been updated. It could be called...Deadmeat!

  • This is not "abandonware". Certainly not when it comes to open source software that is still freely available and not at all hard to acquire. "Abandonware", traditionally, has referred to closed source software that, over time, either has no known copyright holder (but is not public domain so is still illegal to redistribute) or has literally been "abandoned" by the copyright holder (but is also not public domain so is still illegal to redistribute). Thus making the ability to find a legitimate copy of the

  • Describe the details in a post to http://www.reddit.com/r/programming

    There's quite a concentrated community in some of the sub-reddits -- you are bound to find a kindred spirit with a passion for the application that may not realize it is at risk. The community is very interactive and may be helpful in finding a home for the ailing project...

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

Working...