[OpenAFS] Funding the formation of an OpenAFS Foundation (fwd)

stephen@physics.unc.edu stephen@physics.unc.edu
Thu, 27 Sep 2012 15:06:31 -0400 (EDT)


It is with surprise, humor, and alarm that I've been reading the various 
messages within this thread.

I have to admit that I have been frustrated at various times in the past at the 
seemingly-glacial pace of releases and new features. But I'm also alternatively 
amazed at the quality of OpenAFS and the fact that it's still "alive and 
kickin'" a dozen years after it was virtually declared dead.

My skills don't include hacking the OpenAFS source code. I've looked at bits of 
it before and it scared me (that's an editorial on my skill level more than of 
the quality of the code -- I think... ;-) I have tried to contribute a few 
tools that I hacked up either in my spare time or as needed by my job. But I'm 
a sysadmin, not a programmer.

The point of this email is that I hope the Elders and Gatekeepers *do* know 
that they're appreciated, even if it's not voiced often. The fact that OpenAFS 
is still "alive and kickin'" is proof to your skill and tenacity. Well done.

One thing that I found surprising was Jeff's paragraph below regarding IBM and 
backwards compatibility. I was unaware that IBM had expressed this desire, and 
unaware of many of the specifics of the inner machinations of the OpenAFS 
community <--> IBM relationship. So I do commiserate with Troy Benjegerdes in 
that regard. I admit that quite often I'd wondered why no one has created a new 
derivative fork sans the 'AFS' moniker in order to escape the tradmark. I've 
also wondered why we didn't break backwards compatibility in order to expedite 
the inclusion of new encryption types, features like IPv6, etc. As far as I can 
recall from reading the IPL 1.0, both actions should be acceptable. But Jeff's 
paragraph below does help to explain it somewhat.

That said, (and realize that I'm talking out of my *extreme* ignorance here) if 
backwards compatibility with the older protocol spec is what is holding us (the 
community) back from moving forward with the much-desired new features which 
would make OpenAFS be taken seriously again (strong encryption and IPv6 being 
just the two that pop into my head at the moment), maybe we should think about 
this.... what about asking IBM about their current feelings? It's not clear 
below whether IBM's professed desire for backwards compatibility is 12-years 
old, or current.

Or to maintain backward compatibility, can we fork a new CM and set of server 
procs on different ports that provides the new oft-wished-for features while 
allowing older CMs to talk to older server procs on the original ports. And 
have both use the same on-disk data? (ala kerberos4 and kerberos5, etc.) There 
are probably a million reasons that won't work, but it seemed reasonable in my 
head when I started typing it. :-)

Speaking only for myself,

On Thu, 27 Sep 2012, Jeffrey Altman wrote:

> In addition, the OpenAFS Elders and Gatekeepers have respect for the
> wishes of IBM when it comes to OpenAFS because without IBM OpenAFS would
> not be available for continued use.  When IBM's representatives say to
> us that they want to ensure that future releases are backward compatible
> with IBM AFS 3.x, we take that very seriously.  The Elders and
> Gatekeepers respect that IBM owns the trademarks and that IBM gets to
> determine the meaning of "AFS compatible" even if they haven't put it in
> writing.  As a Gatekeeper and former Elder I ask that you respect the
> judgement of the Elders.
> Jeffrey Altman