Open source development is usually fun and rewarding. You get to work on whatever you like. No permission required. No "business justification". Here's this thing I've created, isn't it neat? There's a deep sense of satisfaction in making things. Especially when other people find them useful. It's also pretty awesome when people decide what you've made is interesting enough that they want to join in and help make it better. Successful projects often form into communities. Strangers from all over the world turned into enthusiastic users, co-developers. Friends.
The only parts that suck are that:
- It is a bit more difficult to make a living purely from open source software. Giving stuff away generally doesn't pay very well.
- Some people just don't get it.
For example, a while back someone who shall remained unnamed started e-mailing us privately with complaints that TKLBAM (TurnKey's Backup and Migration software) didn't work right for him. We eventually traced the problem back to a MySQL memory usage issue. It turns out that in some, thankfully rare situations MySQL consumes way too much memory when you restore a very particular kind of database from a mysqldump.
When the user complained this was "a fault of TKLBAM's design" I explained that it really didn't sound like a TKLBAM problem to me because:
- If you peeled off TKLBAM and just used mysqldump / mysql command directly to backup / restore that kind of database you would run into exactly the same memory usage issue.
- If Ubuntu issued a package update that fixed the bug, the issue would go away. Presto. No TKLBAM fix required.
Besides, even if this wasn't a rare edge case nobody else had run into there probably wasn't much I could do about it without debugging MySQL code - a daunting task.
The best I could do was add an item to my todo list to see if we could look for workarounds that would go into the next version. In the meantime I recommended that the user try using another solution.
Then I went on vacation. When I came back online I discovered an escalating series of e-mails from this user that eventually culminated in threats if we didn't drop everything to meet his demands. And this was no joke. This guy seemed to be dead serious!
Alon, who peaks into my TurnKey e-mail inbox when I'm not around tried calming the guy down:
Just so you know, Liraz has been working offline and on vacation for about a month, if not a little longer. He has not been ignoring you, he just hasn't read your emails.
I can understand your frustration, but even so keep in mind that TLKBAM is open source software, and released under the GPL!
I'm sure Liraz will reply to you once he returns online and finds the time, but even then understand that there is no obligation on his part to do so, except for common courtesy. Making threats is just disrespectful and wasteful.
Another demanding, entitled rant followed. When I finally came back I read through the whole series of e-mails, thought a little bit about what kind of confusion could lead to the (thankfully rare) behavior we were witnessing and put in my final response:
Sorry for the late reply and sorry for the bad experience you have had with TKLBAM.
As Alon said I've been offline for a while. As much as I'd like to help you in a friendly manner I'm getting the sneaking sensation from the demanding tone of your messages that you don't seem to understand how open source works.
The way I see it open source is basically a gift culture where people give the products of their labor away in a vague hope that some people (but probably not everyone) will find it useful. It's a gift, with everything that implies. There are no warranties, explicit or implied. There are no guarantees that it is fit for any purpose.
Even proprietary software you pay for is not guaranteed to fully satisfy you or to work flawlessly (it usually doesn't). The only way to really guarantee that technology works like you want is either to take pains to develop it yourself or pay someone else to develop it for you, in which case you can boss them around when they don't meet your expectations or schedule. For what it's worth I am prepared to offer you a full refund for the free software. :)
Seriously though I do appreciate the technical feedback but please remember that the open source license gives you permission to copy, distribute and improve TKLBAM yourself if you ever feel I am not responsive enough to your needs.
I don't know what I was expecting. A sudden moral epiphany? "Sorry I got carried away". I know I know, I probably shouldn't have bothered. Once a person gets so far out of whack it's unlikely they are interested in being sensible. But I'm a sucker for redemption. Anyhow, it certainly didn't help. A couple of additional e-mails with further demands and threats followed. Oh well, at least I tried.
The moral of the story: Come on, be nice. It's a fscking gift!