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McEs, A Hacker Life
Monday, April 11, 2005
 Rants on what Arabeyes should do in the OpenSource World

From another posting, to Arabeyes this time. I strongly believe that localization efforts cannot justify starting new applications.

On Fri, 8 Apr 2005, Mohammed Elzubeir wrote:

> Behdad, need I remind you that it took OVER A YEAR for VIM's author to
> incorporate the Arabic patches? We can't just sit around waiting for
> mainstream developers to integrate our work and neither do we want to
> start forks unless we feel that the maintainers have no intentions of
> doing anything about it. After all, the chances of the success of a fork
> is mostly not very high.

That's perferctly fine, yes. First, a year for a patch like Arabic support in VIM is very optimistic and due. There's a locale patch for glibc to add a new locale that was integrated in after two years. And a locale is just data, no code involved.

Second, unlike your preference, to me, a fork is still better than a new project. That's like the Linux kernel stuff. Everybody except for Linus, provides his patch, and update the patch when new kernels break it. Nobody starts writing a new kernel simply because Linux does not support his webcam! That's the way you can go, and you can provide prebuilt packages too. You can easily convince distributions like Mandrake, maybe Debian, and even Fedora to ship your patches, and that makes the maintainer more confident in the patch and ease integration.

Third, I want to draw your attention to a recent project called Poppler, which is a fork of xpdf codebase by Red Hat guys on This was done because pdf maintainer/auther was not interested in integrating communities patches upstream. KDE/Gnome are both using Poppler right now, and we are going to see a far better PDF support in them. Another example is the ooo-build project, which is a multi-distro effort to release integration patches for simply because OO.o process is too slow. They eventually integrate upstream, but the project exists, and has proven to be quite useful so far. Now, instead of seeing you guys writing minibidi for CUPS maintainers because they're not willing to link to GNU FriBidi, I liked to see somebody starting a page for [L]GPLed patches to CUPS and start advertising that.

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