27 October 2010

We're not Emerald, $DEITY->dammit!

I'm trying to chase down a nasty bug in Phoenix on the Mac. Everyone, or nearly so, who creates a sculpt map on their machine and uploads it finds it corrupted when it gets there, in Phoenix builds 225 and 373. I think it's a color space or gamma issue, and spent a couple of fruitless days trying to hunt it down.

It turns out that there's a better answer. Mac OS X contains perfectly usable image conversion libraries as part of its built-in CoreGraphics framework. It even contains a version of the (in)famous KDU library for JPEG2000. It's there in the base OS, and is used for any native image processing on the system. It even handles PSD and TIFF files natively, something the viewer code doesn't. Clearly, using it is the Right Thing.

I hate reinventing wheels. Elektra Hesse of the Imprudence project has already coded up the necessary hooks in the viewer. Imprudence is GPLd, so this isn't a problem for Phoenix - but it is a problem for Firestorm, because the stated goal of the project is to produce an LGPLd viewer, and you can't use GPLd code in an LGPLd program unless you change the entire license to LGPL.

Since Elektra is the author of the change, she can give permission to use it under the LGPL. So I set out to contact her. I dropped her IMs inworld, and joined the #imprudence IRC channel. No luck for a couple of days. Finally, I pinged the other developers, and explained what I wanted. That produced the following comment from McCabe Maxsted, the lead developer for Imprudence:
anyway, a viewer based on Emerald that's friendly to opensource is a strange thing, so you'll excuse me if I'm a bit skeptical about any cooperation coming from Phoenix' end on anything viewer-related. Elektra's the only one who can relicense her patch, you can email her at [redacted]
Grumble snarl. I really wish people would quit associating us with the idiots who were the public face of Emerald. I replied:
I know Elektra is the only one who can relicense it. That's why I'm looking to talk to her.
As for your skepticism, all I can say is that the folks on the Phoenix team are not the folks who were on the Emerald team. The former Emerald developers who were forced to leave are unlikely to be willing to relicense their code to something besides GPL. That's something we're going to have to deal with ourselves, and the results will be LGPLd.
I am not Phox, or Fractured, or the other banned developers. I've been the manager of an open source project in a completely different field for over a decade. I know how open source is supposed to work.
There's a lot of bad blood in the TPV community, and I'd like to see it go away. We're all trying to do the same thing, and we're not competition for each other; if someone has a problem with Phoenix, I've got no problems with their using some other viewer.
McCabe's reply:
I'll keep that in mind
All right, that's fair enough. I hope he does; he'll find that we really don't mind others picking up our changes and using them. I verified this with Jessica Lyon, and she completely agrees.

Unfortunately, at this point, Latif Khalifa, developer of the Radegast text client, decided to throw his two cents in as the Keeper of the One True Open Source Way. I found this especially hilarious, since I'm typing this on Eric Raymond's kitchen table (Raymond, founding president of the Open Source Intiative and open source guru, and I go back two decades). He claimed that the dialog that pops up when you run a copy of Phoenix that isn't an official build was not in accordance with the One True Open Source Way, and said
you cannot claim "not emerald" and continue emerald-like policies, so don't get surprised if people are not very convicend about the opensource spirit of the phoenix project
He claimed later that the dialog box was in the same spirit as emkdu, a clearly laughable claim considering that emkdu was about steganographically encoding user identifying information in uploaded textures and the dialog box is simply a warning that can be easily ignored.

Since the channel is about Imprudence, not Phoenix, I replied:
lkalif, I'm not going to help you take over this channel with your vendetta.
And he fired back:
TonyaSouther: well if you take any criticism as "vendetta" just shows how empty your "not emerald" claim is
Uhm, yeah. He attacks me in an unrelated channel out of the clear blue about a triviality, after creating a "clone" of the official Phoenix repository that's clearly not an exact clone, and refusing to clearly mark it as unofficial, and says that I shouldn't call it a vendetta? Riiiiiight. I refused to rise to the bait:
I've said all I'm going to.
I've dropped Elektra an email; hopefully, we can get together and work for the benefit of the entire TPV community. I didn't come here to be attacked for things I'm not involved in, and that's not the purpose of this channel anyway. It's called #imprudence, not #bash_phoenix.
After sending that, I left the room.

This isn't the first time people has associated us with the Emerald idiots. One especially nasty comment on Tateru Nino's Dwell on It blog suggested the entire Phoenix team get off SL because we could never redeem ourselves. The results of the poll she took, to which that comment is attached, were negative, as well.

I don't know how to say it any plainer than I did to McCabe. The idiots and griefers and bad guys on the former Emerald team are gone, gone, gone. We don't put up with that kind of crap any more. We know damned good and well that if we abuse the fragile trust we've earned back, we're doomed. I'm not going to allow my good name to be destroyed by another developer's actions.

There will always be people who don't trust us. I accept that sad reality as reality. It's still dismaying when it rears its head like this, though.

Update: Elektra has now given permission to use her patch in Phoenix. Yay!

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