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"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21467673.


Sure, but those are only weasel words and blatant lies. Talking about "Commercializing Open-Source", when you are in fact closing your source code is dishonest. And I think HN needs honesty. Even with some bluntness.


That's how we get flamewars. What feels like honest bluntness on the inside seems like trollish flames on the outside—not to everyone, of course, but reliably to someone, who then feels justified not only in reacting but escalating.

The only way out of this, if you want to have an internet forum that doesn't burn (which we do!) is for everyone to practice making their points in a more thoughtful way. Maybe you don't owe that to the closers-of-source-code; but you owe it to the community if commenting here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> Maybe you don't owe that to the closers-of-source-code

You assume I have something against closers of source code. Do not assume bad faith please.

I don't like closers of source code who say "Yes, We're Open (source)". https://sentry.io/_/open-source/ or https://sentry.io/welcome/ "Sentry provides open-source and hosted error monitoring".

This is not honest. I think honesty when selling software is important.

I'll take note for the future and will try to present the facts in a more politically correct way. This is an american forum afterall.


I am the VC. I was not really consulted on the change, and after seeing it on HN, texted the founder saying I disagreed :) That said, I'm supportive of the team making the decisions they do! They run the company, not me!


> ... texted the founder saying I disagreed :)

Which direction did you want it to go? Full BSD from day one or locked down closed source?


My gut reaction was to keep things open source


That's not clear at all. It's not hostile to tinkerers. It's hostile to entities that may want to take others open source work and provide a business around that work.

You can still run the software, for free, in your business. You can still change the software, for free, and run that in your business. You can still fork the software, from today, and do what you want with it.

The vast majority of work done on the software is funded by sentry. This hurts literally no one who is legitimate.


It should be noted that this change also means one can't use parts of the code in their FOSS projects, especially if the rest of the codebase in copyleft. I'm not sure anyone was using parts of the Sentry codebase that way, though.

(I guess people can use the code after it converts to BSD, but that's a dangerous gambit, because if a bug - particularly a security bug - is found, you have to wait three years for the patch)

By the way, I have no ill will towards Sentry, though I can't deny it's a loss.


fwiw we basically employ everyone (either full time or as a contractor) that contributes to Sentry, and if we don't, shoot me an email and maybe we can fix that!


It is entirely legitimate to take f/oss software and offer a hosted service of it, directly competing with those who paid money to produce the software, and potentially harming their services business. If “we literally wrote it” isn’t enough to retain your services customers, maybe you shouldn’t have them.


Sure, it's totally legitimate under an f/oss license. Which is why many companies that are spending millions of their own money developing these systems are moving to different models where it's no longer legitimate.

If the puritans aren't willing to accept that, that's their right, and they can take their money elsewhere.

There's a tragedy of the commons element to it all. Company A invests millions of dollars developing a product out in the open for the benefit of themselves AND their users. Users are free to self host for literally $0. Then company B comes along and repackages the solution, usually behind closed doors, and reaps the $millions of benefit with only the marginal costs of operating the product.

The whole argument is very strange to me. Users - end users - have all the freedom in the world. It's only really multi billion dollar companies that are exploiting the work of others for their own personal gain that are being shut out - but the puritans seem ready to defend them anyway. In a world where Amazon (for example) control everything, users have far less freedom.


> Then company B comes along and repackages the solution, usually behind closed doors, and reaps the $millions of benefit with only the marginal costs of operating the product.

Well, they can only reap what company A fails to reap; either by having lower prices, or a better service offering, or being better or more useful in some way, right? I mean, if company A is literally the same name as the software, they have a natural marketing advantage, so company B would have to be better on some axis to eat even part of their lunch.


> Well, they can only reap what company A fails to reap; either by having lower prices

That's basically my entire point. Of course company B gets to have lower prices, since they're not spending money on building the product.


Writing free software does not give one a monopoly on offering a service based on that software, naturally. That's the entire point of free software.

If company A's entire business plan is based around the fact that it's impolite to do that after company A spent that money up front, they're going to have a bad time. That model is dumb to undertake if your lunch can be eaten if someone comes along and differentiates only on price of service.


> You can still run the software, for free, in your business. You can still change the software, for free, and run that in your business. You can still fork the software, from today, and do what you want with it.

You cannot reuse and publish. Matter of fact, even reading it and taking inspiration from it is risky. Words from an IP lawyer I know. It's a proprietary license. There is no shame in that. So don't try to act like you are still an open source company. One has to make a good living. That's not what I was criticizing.

> It's hostile to entities that may want to take others open source work and provide a business around that work.

Consider yourself happy Torvalds didn't think this way. Or Guido. What's your dev environment?


> Consider yourself happy Torvalds didn't think this way. Or Guido.

By all means, fork the software and start providing a business around it then. What you don't get to do, anymore, is provide a business around the output of others moving forward.

A truly open source clone may spring up out of this. I strongly suspect it won't, because there are very few people contributing to this project who aren't employees. The ones that aren't employees are making changes to support the instance they use to support their real business. I personally fall into this bucket. I raise issues, participate in betas, and try to fix bugs where possible precisely because I use the software. I have no intention of packaging it up and selling it elsewhere.


The idea behind community-based development is that anyone can provide a business around the output of others, and it's not a problem because all improvements are shared by everyone.

All the license change says to me is that the development team was very insular and ended up all at the same company, so they ultimately saw no benefit to participate in the wider community. Closing themselves off further is a natural progression from this. That's fine for them, and I'm not going to dig into the deeper reasons why it happened, but for this reason it's a big red flag to me when a FOSS project fails to attract contributors from more than one company.


> The idea behind community-based development is that anyone can provide a business around the output of others

I disagree with this statement. Being able to build a business around the output of others is a side effect, and not the primary reason for open source. I would argue, and many companies are arguing, that the side effect causes more harm than good, and there should be some kind of optional middle ground.

> the development team was very insular and ended up all at the same company

Look, I have no statistics around contributors that are employees vs contributors from other companies. Zeeg may have an idea. But as he said up-thread, they tend to hire those that contribute.

Operating Sentry at scale is no small feat, and I'm not surprised that most companies prefer to spend the money on the SAAS solution rather than on employees to operate it.

> so they ultimately saw no benefit to participate in the wider community

This is the bit I most disagree with. They are still participating in the wider community in the vast majority of cases. There is a single restriction - you may not take the output and duplicate their business.


>I would argue, and many companies are arguing, that the side effect causes more harm than good

I would not. Community development means just that: community development. Everyone contributes to a shared set of code that everyone gets an equal chance to profit from. If you know something the others don't then you can charge them to go do consulting/support/training/etc, but you can't stop them from building a separate business around that code and you can't sabotage the code or the license to go and try to steal their customers. That's part of the deal and no one gets to have their cake and eat it too, not even Amazon or whoever the villain of the day is. There is a middle ground away from this, which is to make parts of your product not open source anymore, which is what Sentry did.

>they tend to hire those that contribute.

That's not a problem in and of itself. It's when they're the only ones doing the hiring. That to me means a product-market mismatch where there are not enough companies to create a competitive ecosystem of other things around the open source project.

>you may not take the output and duplicate their business.

For me as an outsider of this company, this is a negative. I want their business to be easily duplicated. It means they have to work harder and make better products.


There are other products in the same domain. That’s where the competition should be. Not ripping off work.


Reading any software and taking inspiration from it is risky, because software patents inhibit the Progress of Science and useful Arts.

Here's cockroachdb's version of the BSL:

https://github.com/cockroachdb/cockroach/blob/master/license...

You may be right that this doesn't allow modification. I hope sentry words their Additional License Grant better.

> Consider yourself happy Torvalds didn't think this way. Or Guido.

Yes I'm generally happy when I get new stuff for free, but I don't expect that to always happen.


> Yes I'm generally happy when I get new stuff for free, but I don't expect that to always happen.

Sure. But when a product is advertised as open source, I expect it to be true.


Open source never includes the guarantee that there will be future open source releases. If their new license won't work for you, it's as if it just stopped being maintained. Use and/or fork the most recent open source version.


A paragraph of this announcement is literally titled "Commercializing Open-Source". This is a blatant lie.


I think a lot of this revolves around what you think a "tinkerer" should be able to do. You clearly state "learn and reuse parts of your code", but depending on what you mean, people may or may not think "reuse parts of your code" falls under "tinkering".

I imagine people might be split on that point, but I think "reuse and publish" is asking for much more. That's not tinkering, that's making a business, or at a minimum providing a service (even if uncharged and the service is software access).




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