Wednesday, September 08, 2004

What's Wrong With Sorcerer?

Several things.

While the sole coder that works on the package managment system for Sorcerer GNU/Linux is among the finest bash scripters that I've known, he tends to make RADICAL changes overnight that often result in every Sorcerer box aside from his own (the one that he tests on, that is to say) to completely take a shit. I don't mean a little two-floater. I mean a full-on six flushes and a jug-o-drano. So why is he the only coder, and why does development not happen as it does with most OSS projects?

The license. I don't care if this is the way that anybody else remembers things ... I know what I perceived as happening when the fit hit the shan. A while after Sorcerer experienced a rather substantial slashdotting, people started to become annoyed for much the same reasons that I am. Things were changing radically overnight, shit was breaking, fire and brimstone, cats sleeping with dogs, et cetera. Since everything was licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License at that point, some of those that were hollaring the loudest about the problems basically told the sole coder to fuck off ... they were going to fork the codebase and take off running with thier own distro. It was originally called Lunar Penguin, but it's been shortened to just Lunar nowadays. So what happened?

Aforementioned sole coder seemingly went batshit. Nuked any trace of SGL and put up a nasty note in its place that explained that anybody that ever forks a codebase should roughly fuck off and die. Where did this leave the folks that did not run off with the coder's code?

In the shitter. What happens when you find yourself neck deep in feces? You dig your way out. Thus, the community-driven Sorcerer GNU/Linux was born. Why did they keep the name?

Because it didn't look like the sole coder was ever going to work on a public project again (and they were right, to a degree). However, a few weeks later, the original Sorcerer website reappeared, except that the distro had been renamed to just Sorcerer. As a sign of respect for the original coder, the "new" SGL renamed itself ... it became Sourcemage GNU/Linux. What kind of response did that garner from the original coder?

He went batshit again. He didn't understand in the least why nobody would want to be involved with a project developed by a sole coder that has a tendency to throw temper tantrums, take his ball, and go the fuck home. Though I stuck around with the original coder, I really can't say that I blame them in the least. Why not?

They were Free. That is to say, the code that they were hacking on, though not the latest and greatest codebase, was released under a Free Software license (GPL) that allowed just about anybody that they saw fit to help out to do so in a fairly unencumbered way. What did those of us that stuck around out of principle get?

A concrete dildo, wrapped in barbed wire, straight up the ass. We got the SPL (I would post a link, except that there is no way to get a copy of the license, so far as I can tell, without actually downloading the software that it covers ... and there is NO mention of it on the Sorcerer website proper) (actually, I did stumble over it today ... which is the only way that one would find it, since there is no link to it ... there is on this page right here, though). This is a non-free software license that basically states that we can't do a fucking thing with the code that we're using. Not only that, but if we do actually write anything to improve the code in question, we MAY NOT distribute our changes as part of a full codebase ... only as patches. That's balls, it sucks, and it's certainly no way to treat the people that have proved loyal to you. So why am I so pissed?

I like Free software. I don't mean junk that I don't have to pay for ... sure, that helps, but it's not the kind of "free" that I'm referring to in this case. I enjoy having the freedom to fuck around with something as I see fit and give it away, much as it was given to me, as a means of expressive service. I get to express myself through the changes that I make, and I get to perform a service for anybody that thinks that my way of doing things in a particular situation might be the way to go. As it stands now, there is no chance of me making any alterations to the sorcery (the package management system for Sorcerer) code base, as I may eventually wish to write some Free software that fits the same purpose. Why would having worked on the code base be bad? Because then it would easily be assumed by the original coder that I drew some if not all of my ideas for my Free software from his non-free software. Thusly, I'd be bound to the terms of his license, the SPL, and that is complete balls. Feel free to comment if this doesn't make any fucking sense, as I'm fairly certain that it may not.

I'm not trying to advocate the forking of a code base, but stranger (and far harsher) things do happen. That is one of the prices that one must pay for decent code ... if you are not willing to accept that somebody might not like the way that you do things, you should seriously consider the viability of your project and its relationship to the close-knit community that you are going to derive (as you're never going to win over a large community with asspirate-like licensing terms).

Bet you're glad you read this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow... so much for calling it "uber-1337"
the home page made it sound so cool.

7:19 PM  
Blogger pooster said...

Well, in defense of Sorcerer, the distro itself does work fairly well. It's the management and the license that bring about the problems indicated in this rant.


3:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear your loyalty was repaid so unkindly.
The funny thing is one of the people involved in "saving" sorcery and "founding" Source Mage, ended up doing all the same things wrong as Kyle.
Eric Schabell's misguided attempts to hack sorcery (unilateraly removing features, poor coding, inadequate testing of even simple changes and therefore causing multiple boxes to become broken), his pathetic communication and management skills, lack of respect for opensource "bazaar-style" discussions, general lack of awareness of developers he had volunteered (and been elected to) lead, caused me to leave development of smgl. More than a year later I am still the fourth largest contributor to their grimoire , but they won't stop distributing my name and email address with their files.
I can't recommend them to you, from my experience, no matter how well they (smgl) claim to be doing currently, the mishandling of all Schabell's errors, mistakes and faults is a blueprint or prophecy for their own eventual downfall.
You might like to try it and prove me wrong though.

12:45 AM  
Blogger pooster said...

I know where you're comin' from, and I'm not terribly excited over the prospects of being able to help out with sourcemage either.

Think I'm going to stay away from the distro game for at least a little while. I've got too much junk on the burner at the moment anyways ;o)


11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sorry that you feel that way about Sorcerer.

However, I can relate a lot to how Kyle is running the distro.
In my opinion he is just looking for the absolute best way in which to make Sorcerer. If that nessesetates a complete re-write, then so be it. If that involves the rest of the world not caring and going their own ways, that's fine too.
Kyle never intended to have a huge following in the first place.
At least that's the impression I got.

So, why am I supporting a non-free lisence?

I am learning a lot from Kyle's way of doing things.

I do look at other distro's from time to time, and am quite pleased at how fast Linux in general is progressing. They are all running and evolving just fine without my help.

The problem with those other distro's are you are just too far away from the source, and you do not really learn anything of Linux by using them.

Each to his own, I say.
-Evert Vorster-

2:34 AM  
Blogger pooster said...

Hey Evert. How's things?

I am learning a lot from Kyle's way of doing things.The only thing that I can safely say that I learned from Kyle's way of doing things is how to alienate a staff, let alone a community.

Something else that I learned is that the best way to find out how many users you have is to release a critical bug in the backbone of your product every once in a while. There's no way that old man K actually fucks up that often.

The problem with those other distro's are you are just too far away from the source, and you do not really learn anything of Linux by using them.Bullshit. Try LFS. Try Gentoo (yeah, I said it). Try Debian. For that matter, with the amount of brokenness inherent within, try Red Hat. You get to learn all sorts of things fixing RH's fuckups.

Anyways, I too understand why Kyle feels the way that he does. I'm sure that if I had a closely guarded secret stash of software, I wouldn't want other people to see the source. Then again, if I were the sort to hide my code away, I wouldn't have it anywhere near an free license. He got all pissy because people did exactly what he gave them the right to do. That I cannot understand, condone, nor agree with.


5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked your description of what happened with sorcerer, lunar and then sourcemage, it is a perfect resume of those days. I am one of those that went with sourcemage, and even raised to section guru for some time (while I had time).
I must disagree with what hgg posted here, though. Even though he contributed a lot, his gratuitous attacks on Eric's character are way out of line. Eric stepped down as project leader, and even stopped being a section guru in part because of hgg's attacks.
Hgg reminds me somewhat of Kyle - great technically, terrible personality. He's always right, no mather what, and if you won't do what he wants then you must be evil.

10:34 AM  
Blogger pooster said...

I appreciate the kind words for the article, Bernardo, but perhaps everybody needs to stop badmouthing here. This is MY place to bitch, and your having refuted hgg's character to some degree is no better than his having bitched about Schabell.


1:03 PM  
Anonymous astsmtl said...

thanks pooster, very interesting article for me because i'm using world's best GNU/Linux distribution - Source Mage ;-)

9:44 AM  
Blogger pooster said...

Wow ... I could have sworn that the best was your own. Good thing astsmtl was here to set me straight.


1:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think all of these distro's suck bsd has the best distro's and other than that the only linux distro that is even worth me lookin at and using on a daily basis is Gentoo Linux, source mage, sourcerer, crackhead linux, fucktard linux, and bitch ass linux will never be better than gentoo, so i suggest you all just stop bitching, stop workin on this non-free peice of shit operating system and head on over to

9:39 AM  
Blogger pooster said...

Agreed, though your selection of expletives (in this case, mind you) makes it very difficult for one to take you seriously. Aside from that, I could not possibly share your mindset more.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Gordon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:18 PM  
Blogger pooster said...

Hi there, Gordon.

Notice that your comment has been deleted, not because of the content per se, but mostly because your "linux related" site has little-to-no real information, and what little real information exists upon it is erroneous.


10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep that's pretty much how I remember those Sorcerer days, notably Kyle's behavior. Quite astounding really given it was GPLed code at the start. After witnessing his um fits and the change to SPL I dropped Sorcerer.

Tried SourceMage for a little bit but just didn't feel right. I know that's rather subject but well, there it is.

Then I stumbled onto Lunar-Linux and have been using it ever since.

So pooster, Evansville. Born at Deaconess. Cool. Mt. Version was my stomping grounds for a while.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the reason SPL is used is because...
more info at

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

During the rewrite the "Sorcerer GNU/Linux" project page hosted at Savannah was annexed by a new group of forkers. This group of forkers led by Ryan Abrams and Eric Schabell removed Mr. Sallee from the project page. For months the new fork continued to masqurade as "Sorcerer GNU Linux," using the distribution name, logo, and documentation without permission. To avoid confusion Mr. Sallee created a new distribution called "Sorcerer" that used the new sorcery beta tools. To avoid future dismantling of the distribution by forkers the the new license for "Sorcerer" was modeled after Troll Tech's Q Public license to permit free use while discouraging hostile forking.

Eventually the forkers pretending to be "Sorcerer GNU/Linux" ceased using "Sorcerer GNU/Linux's" logo and changed their fork's name to Source Mage.

10:10 PM  
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Well, if Scruff hadn't died a couple of months back, I'm sure that he'd mention that the two most recent comments were written by dipshits. He's probably do it in a finer manner, though.


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