I had mentioned Baishakhi Linux in passing in an earlier post. So, today a few of us received an interesting mail from Prof Anupam Basu of IIT-Kharagpur. The original mail is here for ready reference as it is at here. And I have a few points to make which are below. I will abbreviate Prof Anupam Basu as PAB and my responses as SM.
However, at the outset, let me state that it seems that the team working on the project can do well to buy copies of Karl Fogel’s excellent work Producing Open Source Software.
PAB: The release was on the 8th of September and it was planned to make the source code available upstream, within a few days as is expected of open-source activities. Please keep your weather eyes open on the SNLTR site. SM: I recall asking twice about this and, this is the first time we hear about plans to make source code available upstream. However, it isn't upstream source code that I'd be interested in. I'd be interested in having access to the source of the distribution itself. PAB: Mr. Toshi Kubota (mail cc'd to him) is a pioneer in Open-Source and Linux related movements in Japan. We will ensure that all gpl requirements are adhered to in accordance with his guidance. Please note that the inauguration was only day before yesterday !!!! SM: This is what is generally called a straw-man argument. If you note, at no point have any aspersions been cast on the level of expertise, or, competence of Mr Toshi Kubota. Instead, what has been asked is a simple question - why have the translator credits been mangled in the headers (that have been obtained from the .mo files) ? For instance, I don't recall Promathesh Mondal following any of these steps. PAB: I know ( because Indranil Dasgupta himself told me on the first day we were discussing and demonstrating a prelim version of Baishakhi Linux) that the existing Linux versions, printout of complex Bengali scripts through Firefox was not possible - thanks to Indranil - this problem is not there in Baishakhi Linux. SM: If you could point to a suitable sample of such complex scripts I'd be more than glad to test it out on Fedora9 or rawhide -> Fedora10. As on date, I am yet to see on the Firefox bugzilla a bug from your team that provides specimen cases that drive home the point that the complex script rendering is an issue on Linux. PAB: The contributions may be incremental, (as suggested by Sayamindu - a one line code), but that is there now. Baishakhi Linux need not make tall claims, it was a very low budget effort and the spirit should be to contribute more by pointing out bugs and improving on it. SM: I read two things from this: [i] the distribution does include the one line code that Sayamindu points out ie. it isn't materially new and [ii] none of the fixes that Baishakhi claims to be 'features' have the patches attached to the already existing bugs in upstream bugzilla(s). PAB: I am pained because my invitations to some of the Open-Source groups to join hands in these activities was met with absolute silence. SM: 'Let us be objective first' (quoting you) - who are these 'some of the Open-Source groups' ? And, when you invited them, did you point out the mode to join and contribute ?
In short Prof Anupam Basu, we met around a year plus back at the ‘Bangla in e-Governance’ meeting and even then I had taken time to ask you to work with our group to push all the work you do into upstream. Not surprisingly, it hasn’t happened. I don’t expect it to happen as well – but your mail was something of a surprise. More so, since you chose to include Sayamindu’s mother in cc: – what were you thinking ? 🙂