Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to OpenNSD - should we or shouldn't we?

Posted by Janine Ohmer on
<em>From a development project view, I've heard the AOLserver folks have been officially told not to work with the community anymore because we've wasted their time trying to convince them we can help rather than hinder their process.</em>
I would want to know the source of this before taking it too seriously.  Part of the reason for starting the OpenNSD project in the first place was because the AOL project had a person who was, shall we say, "not temperamentally well-suited to dealing with the public" in the role of being the public contact person.  He was generally bad-tempered and dissed a lot of people's honest efforts to contribute.  He wouldn't even take Rob Mayoff's patches, which is why we have aD releases of AOLserver.  So if it was him who was complaining about the community, you'd better have the world's largest grain of salt handy.
There are (at least) two motivations for creating a separate project:
<li>The name AOLserver is a liability.  We've only run into it peripherally, but it is out there.  A business type recently pointed out to me that when you go in to try to sell to a decent-sized corporation, you are probably talking with someone who reads the business section, knows all about the problems at AOLTimeWarner, and probably has even lost money personally on AOL stock.  These folks have a reflexive, knee-jerk negative reaction to anything having to do with AOL.
<li>The community is going to want to make changes to nsd that AOL will not want in their version.  They quite rightly have to be somewhat conservative about what changes they accept (they should just be nicer about it, IMHO).  Anything that doesn't have direct value to AOL should not be included as it's not worth the potential source of new bugs.
I'm thinking that what we might want to do, and this gets back to Jon's question too, is to provide the "base" tarballs, which would be 3.3+ad13 and 3.4 as they exist today (and 4.0 when it's ready) and then publish all our changes in the form of patches.  People can pick and choose their patches, or download a "patched tarball" that will give them the latest OpenNSD.  That way we don't fork, exactly, but add on to what AOL has released.  It could get "interesting" when several people change the same area, though;  patches would have to work both when applied alone and in the fully-patched version.
We definitely don't have to worry about upsetting the AOL folks who matter;  Jim Davidson was all in favor of the OpenNSD project last time around.
I disagree that the OpenNSD site should be at, though.  There are plenty of folks out there who use nsd but don't use OpenACS;  they have important things to contribute too.  They are more likely to participate if OpenNSD is a free-standing project.