Ramblings of a Professional Computer Geek

April 1, 2009

What’s Happening to PCLinuxOS?

Filed under: Linux,Open Source,PCLinuxOS — Padma @ 3:45 pm
Tags: , ,

The last few months have been … interesting.   Beginning about ten months  ago, Texstar “disappeared”.  He turned over the development of PCLOS 2008/2009 to the Ripper Gang, and didn’t say anything to the community.  A couple months ago, with 2009 almost ready to hit the streets, he popped back up, and delayed the release until he pronounced himself satisfied.

What happened?

First, my usual disclaimer that I am not a developer for PCLinuxOS, nor do I have any special inside track to what has been going on.  I’m just piecing things together from disparate public sources.  Since everything I have read is publicly available, I haven’t asked anyone for permission to discuss them, but I will exercise some discretion regarding details.  There is also some conjecture, because I have read some of both sides of the story, and while they describe the same incidents, they are so divergent that it is almost hard to grasp that.

Tex left because of some serious health issues.  He needed to concentrate on that, without the distractions of what is, to be honest, a hobby.  He turned the website administration over to Cindy, and left the Ripper Gang to continue developing the next release without him.  He left without an announcement because he didn’t want to disrupt the community.  If anybody asked, they were told he was on hiatus.

The Ripper Gang continued development, albeit a little more slowly than with Tex around, and everything seemed to go smoothly.  Until about two weeks before the 2009 release.  Then, as Tex puts it, “things started to get funky.”  While he wasn’t posting on the forums, or helping with the release, he was still keeping in touch.

Supposedly, some of the developers were taking the distro indirections they wanted, without input from the community, or even other team members.  They weren’t communicating well with the community, to the point many of us were begging for information.  This is not what Tex had envisioned for PCLinuxOS.

Emails and PMs started flying, getting more and more heated.  Many angry words were exchanged.  In the end, the Ripper Gang was ripped apart.  Many of the development team that worked on 2009 have departed from PCLinuxOS.  None were forced to leave.  Those who were most opposed to Tex’ approach to the situation felt they could not work with him anymore, and others, I believe, simply wanted out of the charged atmosphere that was left.  They have formed a new development group, named Unity, and plan to develop a new distro.  Some PCLOS remasters, e.g., TinyMe, have joined them.  Others, like the Gnome remaster and BEL have stayed with PCLinuxOS.

I know Tex was very hurt by the way all this played out, pitting friend against friend, and airing all the “dirty laundry” in public.  He still respects their abilities.  He admits that without them, there would be no PCLinuxOS 2009 in our hands right now.

On the positive side, those developers who left stayed with PCLOS long enough to wrap up loose ends.  MyPCLinuxOS.com and the Hardware Database have been handed off, and the development on their various packages was completed before they left.  A new crop of developers is in training, and a new selection of Moderators is managing the forums.  One of their promises is to be more open with the community, so we aren’t left in the dark.

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5 Comments

  1. “Supposedly, some of the developers were taking the distro indirections they wanted, without input from the community, or even other team members.”

    This is completely backwards. Tex left without *ANY* communication to the ripper gang at all…CSolis took over the website…and instead of staying out of coding, rpm rolling, etc. she began to try and direct the ripper gang where they needed to go with respect to the distro…she tried taking over as the distro architect. The normal process of the gang was to vote on each direction they took. These directions were consistently usurped by CSolis…*a website administrator*. Remember, they had NO WORD from Texstar that she was officially in charge…they had only what CSolis said was true.

    They didn’t feel this was right so they began to leave her out of the development decisions. She didn’t like this…and began harboring personal grudges against the devs most vocally in opposition to her. She removed a forum administrator who had been with the distrubiton since the beginning…6 years…and she did this without consulting ANY other forum moderator or administrator. She claimed that she had good reason to remove him…the dumb part is, he’s been with the distro 6 years and no one, not even Tex, has found good reason to remove him from forum admin. She did it because of her personal grudges and she thought this developer was leading the charge at getting her removed. They just wanted her to stay out of technical decisions and respect the democratic process. She thought she knew as well as Texstar which direction the distro should be taken. Yep, a webmaster making decisions like that makes sense right?

    So the developers were all voting democratically in the directions they felt Tex would want…some of them had been there SINCE THE BEGGINING OF PCLINUXOS (6 yrs). Then a webmaster who was fairly new to the community charges in and claims Tex left her in charge. The dev team has not a single communication from Tex on the matter…so what would you do? Who would you believe? Would you take her word for it? Would you assume someone who had been in the community less than a few years and was a webmaster should be making technical decisions on a distribution? Would you trust someone who had been with tex through thick and thin since the beginning?

    “They weren’t communicating well with the community, to the point many of us were begging for information. This is not what Tex had envisioned for PCLinuxOS.”

    This is NOT what Tex envisioned for PCLinuxOS. He supported the closed down development of PCLinuxOS. He still feels it should be closed. However, the community has spoken and he now has to listen.

    “Those who were most opposed to Tex’ approach to the situation felt they could not work with him anymore, and others, I believe, simply wanted out of the charged atmosphere that was left.”

    Wrong. They were opposed to CSolis…and her only. If CSolis had left, they would have stayed. They gave her this ultimatum and she refused. This had been happening BEFORE Tex returned. When he did, they repeated this request and Texstar refused. 27 developers/packagers/hackers have left from PCLinuxOS and PCLinuxOS derivatives now. It seems to me that those numbers speak volumes for why they left…If that many were opposed to CSolis…why didn’t she just step down to preserve the dev team? If it were me, I would have stepped down because my EGO isn’t worth sacrificing the entire development team (minus 2 packagers).

    Comment by exdev — April 1, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

    • Well, I certainly won’t argue with anything you’ve said. After all, like I stated earlier, I’m on the outside looking in.

      I will say that the same set of facts, viewed from diametrically opposed points, can be interpreted in completely different ways. I am certain that your viewpoint is as valid as Tex’s, and certainly as much as mine.

      I will also say that I have been in similar situations over the years. I think I know how Tex feels, as well as how you feel.

      There has been enough hurt, and angry words about this now. I almost didn’t publish this post, because I didn’t want to add to the feelings, and keep wounds open. But I have been feeling rather storm-tossed and lost, as a result, and I am sure there are others who wanted to know what was going on.

      I am going to ask that there be no more discussion of the merits of either side’s case. I don’t want this to turn into a flame-fest. To that end, I am going to manually moderate all replies here, and if things start to get out of hand, I will close it to reply.

      Comment by Padma — April 1, 2009 @ 8:10 pm

  2. 1. Tex notified the developers on the mailing list back in August of last year that he was no longer able to keep up with the development of the distribution because he was sick.

    2. In the event of his demise Tex turned administrative duties over to CSolis. This was shared with the SENIOR MEMBER of the ripper gang. This person also knew of Tex’s illness as well as other members of the gang. After turning over the keys Tex was gone to take care of himself. I am sure the last thing on his mind was worrying about PCLinuxOS.

    3. CSolis was not trying to direct anyone to do anything. She wanted her opinion to be considered like everyone else who was on the team. How can one say it was a democratic process when only 3 voices were being heard and considered. She felt she should also have a final say in where the distribution was going.

    4. The forum administrator was removed because he injected himself into a private conversation between two community members. A big deal was made about it over on the advanced hack site where many had gone because of this person. People threaten to delete their membership on the main forum if this person were to remain and some did anyway.

    5.Tex has always been open with the community concerning development. He communicated everyday with the members of the forum answering their questions.

    6. Tex was told by the lead developer he left because he did not want to work with CSolis. No ultimatum was given nor was he told the developers would stay if she were to be removed. The core team consisted of 5-6 people. When the lead developer departed some of the team followed him. Everyone else of the 27 or so people mentioned above are/were indirectly associated with PCLinuxOS.

    In summary you had 3 guys who wanted to run the show and one gal who asked to be heard.

    Comment by dev — April 2, 2009 @ 2:27 am

    • Okay. That gives us point of view from a former developer, and from a current developer.

      Comment by Padma — April 2, 2009 @ 8:47 am

  3. I’m going to close this post for comments, with the following statement from texstar himself.

    “What it boils down to was a disagreement between the lead developer and the administration. The developer decided to leave and some people followed.”

    I think that’s all that really needs to be said.

    Comment by Padma — April 2, 2009 @ 10:21 am


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