Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Has Reiser is convicted... so?

If you haven't heard the news yet, Hans Reiser has been convicted on charges of first degree murder against his missing wife. Her body still hasn't been located, a key factor in the case against Hans Reiser. Some news results for the case paint a picture of the open-source communities taking an emotional blow from the conviction. I don't think so Zdnet.

The problem for ReiserFS is that the damage to the file system itself was already done. The situation seems to be similar to the SCO case... Here's what I said on the partial summery judgment against SCO:
What the ruling will mean for Linux on the desktop is uncertain. The original lawsuit against IBM did not do anything to slow down or stop Linux development. If anything, it forced a review of existing documentation procedures, and also clarified ownership of the code in use. In some aspects, Current SCO's lawsuit assisted in promoting Linux as several proprietary Unix clients with no reason to move products would have heard about the lawsuit and done their own investigations. Getting tangled up with AutoZone only served to promote Linux to car repair personal who maybe would have never been introduced any other way. Going up against IBM and Novell only ensured that the lawsuit would be read about in most tech press oriented outlets.

For the most part then, the benefit of the lawsuit has already been realized during the lawsuit. Very few tech companies were waiting on an official ruling to pursue the development of Linux or implementation of Linux in their products, exampling Dell.

The key point to the SCO case is that by the time the case started to wrap up and it became obvious to the legal system that SCO's charges had no basis in reality, the potential damage caused by SCO's charges had already been accomplished.

The same holds true with Hans Reiser. Here's a sampling of what I wrote on the subject of the murder charges on this blog:
So, why didn't we publish our results like good little academic researchers? Note the OSs we were using. Mepis 6.0 and Fedora Core 6. yeah, we were wrapping up our research just as Hans Reiser was being hauled off on murder charges. We made the choice to not publish our results because A: REISERFS was going to be as good as dead with Reiser gone, and B: we felt that publishing our results, even using our casual blogs, would be seen as a hack job against the guy. We've seen it before, the claims of people with an Axe to grind. So we junked it.
So, even back in 2006, when we were running the tests of a modified Mepis 6 and modified Fedora Core installations on various hard-drives, we already knew that ReiserFS was toast, even if Hans Reiser was acquitted on the charges. We chose to downplay our results and not publish them because there already was enough bad press going around at the time.

Nobody liked Hans Reiser. He had an awful reputation with the Linux Kernel Maintainers, and his email flames were as legendary as Theo de Raadt's. Everybody "knew" he was an arrogant programmer who refused to comply with even small requests... a point made obvious on KernelNewbie's wiki.

By the time September rolled around in 2007, the fallout had already mostly occured. ReiserFS was disappearing as an option on most major Linux distributions. Distributions that had been shipping with a default ReiserFS format were going to EXT formats.

Now? There's no emotional impact to be had. ReiserFS was already completely out the door, or being shoved out the door, and the Open-Source communities had well over a year and a half to get used to the idea. Some of the news reports indicate that the court case was drama filled... but most open-source followers wouldn't know that. I read a lot of pro, and anti, Open-Source websites, and Hans Reiser hasn't made the news blurbs for months. Those involved... simply didn't care.

It is very possible that many involved with Open-Source work who had encountered Hans Reiser, either in email or in person, already believed he was responsible for the missing Nina Reiser in some way. I'm one of those. There are some posts on MepisLovers, such as this post in this thread, where I indicated I already believed he was guilty, or mentally deranged.

The case of Hans Reiser does indicate a strong difference between the Open-Source Communities and one of the strongest competitors available, as well as a difference between political parties.

Locally, where I live, there used to be a prominent Republican leader by the name of Linda Schrenko. Linda used to be actively involved with school system in such an extent she was voted into the office of School Superintendent. Linda Schrenko also held the honor of being the first women to hold statewide office in Georgia. She also happened to be a crook, and was found guilty of embezzlement. The fallout of her conviction means that Linda Schrenko will never hold office in the Republican party... ever. The fallout also affected her friends and families, as associates who were never proven to have done any wrong-doing have found themselves out of job opportunities, or having hit glass ceilings in their existing jobs. When somebody commits a crime in the Republican party... you never hear from them again.

Locally, where I live, there is a prominent Democrat leader by the name of Charles Walker. Note the difference in terms that I use: is instead of used to be. Charles Walker is currently in jail, and will be there until 2014. He was found guilty on charges of Tax Evasion, mail fraud, and conspiracy... on 127 separate charges. The Democrat party though treats him no differently. When Charles Walker gets out of Jail, there is a spot for him in the local Democrat leadership, and it's well known that many local democrats are convinced that Charles Walker did nothing wrong. Or if he did do something wrong, that's perfectly forgivable, he can have his old job back.

Take it to the national level, and the pattern holds true. If a person is a minority, or a women, they get power and position in the Republican party. Condoleezza Rice and General Colin Powell come to mind. However, if somebody commits a crime or does something wrong in the Republican party, their political careers are over.

By the same token, to the party in which race and sex matter, commit a crime while in office? Say, commit perjury while President? Completely forgivable, have a position in our leadership. That's the Democrats way of doing things. Their absolute focus on sexism and racism has already cost them any chance for a presidential seat in the 2008 elections. No matter who the Democrat's nominate to run, the damage has already been done and there is a massive split in the Democrat party.

Now... compare that to say, Open-Source... and Microsoft.

Commit a crime in the Open Source communities... and that's it. SCO, Via, Intel, Nvidia, Microsoft, and many others are all examples of those who have done something wrong in the open-source communities, and have tarnished reputations because of their actions. Intel and Via are still scrambling to find some credibility in the open-source markets, but isn't happening. Anybody who is seriously interested in Open-Source is going to buy AMD. End of story. End of argument.

Commit a crime in Microsoft... and you get a promotion. Okay, I don't know if that's actually true. Microsoft does have the distinct honor of being a convicted criminal at the level of a government on the continents of North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The only continents in which I'm not aware of convictions occurring are Australia and Antartica. The point is that Microsoft has been known to commit various crimes by law in the past, breaking rules and regulations. The behavior hasn't stopped either, it will take years for ISO to repair the damage done to its system by Microsoft.

Actually, it wouldn't take years, but 2 minutes if the ISO would simply reject all Microsoft held standards from the ISO registers, and ban Microsoft from submitting any standards... ever.. again.

See the comparison? Do something wrong in, or against, the Open-Source communities, and you are hung out to dry. Do something wrong while employed by Microsoft, and just sit back.

If anything, the conviction of Hans Reiser serves more as a lesson in who people are... and in what they do... than as an emotional hit point.

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