Bacula Status Report

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Bacula Status Report

Kern Sibbald

I would like to speak to you about the following points:

1. The rumors of the death  of Bacula (the Community version)
2. The Bareos fork of Bacula
3. Bacula Systems and the FSFE (Free Software Foundation Europe)
4. The future of Bacula (the Community version)

1. The rumors of the death of Bacula (the Community version):

I borrow words from a quote of Mark Twain: The rumors of the death
of Bacula are highly exaggerated! 

I began working on Bacula 14 years ago (in January 2000), and it has
been Open Source from the time it was publicly released in April
2002, and it will remain Open Source.  I have been and am fully
devoted to Open Source, and in particular to Bacula, which is like
my “baby”.  So to hear rumors that Bacula is dead or that I have
withheld commits because they are Enterprise features is shocking
and hurtful to me as well as not true.

I did inform the Bacula Community several years ago that my personal
participation in Bacula would decrease a bit for several years to
allow me to focus more on getting Bacula Systems started.  In my
opinion, that has not been a serious disadvantage for the Bacula
project since Bacula Systems over that period has contributed far
more code to Bacula than I could have alone over the same period,
and as you will see a bit later in this status report, Bacula
Systems contributions are absolutely guaranteed to continue in the
long run, and even increase.

2. The Bareos fork of Bacula:

The Bacula repository has been on “hold” since our last release
in early February, because on 27 February 2013, I learned that there
was a fork of Bacula made by a former “consultant” of Bacula
Systems with a former reseller of Bacula Systems.  Unfortunately,
despite the fact that Bareos hired one of the best German Open
Source lawyers , there were a number of serious copyright violations
with their code.  Since the Bacula code is copyrighted by the Free
Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), I provided the technical support,
and the FSFE worked with Bareos to clean up their copyright
violations.  That took a significant amount of time (many months),
and the Bareos code though significantly improved is still not
totally free of copyright infringements.  I won't go into the
details here as all of you may not be interested, but will have much
more to say about Bareos in later blogs, and when the blog is setup
I will let you know.

I find Bareos an unusual fork, because it wasn't done in what I
believe to be the normal Open Source way.  Normally a fork is made
when a project is blocked or has serious disagreements with the
users.  Its also normally done in open communication rather than
underhanded or in secret.  In the case of Bacula, though some of the
development slowed down (I will go into this in detail later), it
certainly was by no means stopped.  To complain about active
development in Bacula Systems, is, in my opinion, incorrect first
because adding features to the Enterprise version costs Bacula
Systems a lot mostly in salaries yet takes absolutely nothing from
Bacula.  In fact, when you read the next section, you will see that
the more that Bacula Systems develops, the more features that Bacula
over time will have.  Going back to what I find abnormal about the
Bareos fork is that they claim that they spent three years
developing a lot of new features, thus they are more feature rich
than Bacula.  Yes, for the moment, they have a few features that
Bacula does not yet have, but not for long, and more importantly
over the three years of development of those features they never
offered these new features to Bacula nor to any Open Source project.
Instead they were developed in secret.  I find that a very strange
behavior for a self-proclaimed Open Source company (actually, they
are “forced” to be Open Source because of the Bacula AGPLv3
license).  So as Bacula contributors and users, you would be within
your rights to feel very upset with Bareos, because they never
offered you the code they developed.

I assure that I will do all in my power to ensure that any
worthwhile features that Bareos implements will be implemented in
Bacula, and most likely better integrated and more robust, and where
possible with even more functionality and growth potential.

3. Bacula Systems and the FSFE:

If you have been a long time Bacula user you may recall that I
discussed the possibility in 2006-2007 of creating a company, now
called Bacula Systems, to ensure the continuation of Bacula when I
will no longer be able to personally contribute – say in 10 or 20
years, as well as to provide the financial means to add high-end
features to Bacula (a fibre channel network costs about $50K to
setup).  Much to my surprise 95% or more of the responses I got were
very positive.  Bacula Systems was created in July 2008, and for the
first two years, the Enterprise code base and the Community code
base were identical.  Unfortunately, that didn't work financially
for Bacula Systems.  Companies willing to pay, were willing to pay
for features and support but not support alone, so Bacula Systems
embarked on development to continue maintenance and improvement of
Bacula while at the same time creating mostly plugins to add
differentiation to the Enterprise version.

Now this may not sound very Open Source to you, and I understand,
because I feel the same way.  Were it at all possible, I would give
you all of Bacula Systems code, unfortunately, that is not
economically feasible at the current time, and yet without Bacula
Systems, I fear the Bacula project will die or worse yet fall into
the hands of someone incapable of maintaining the high quality we
have created.

While I was consulting with the Free Software Foundation Europe
(FSFE) on the Bareos copyright violations, Bacula Systems and I
began discussions with the FSFE on how to guarantee the long term
survival of Bacula.  These discussions, extremely positive on both
sides and all points, recently lead to a formal written agreement
between myself, Bacula Systems, and the FSFE. There are a number of
points in the agreement, but probably the most important of all is
that Bacula Systems has now put in writing that it is an Open Source
company (at its heart), as it has always proclaimed, and will
contribute all the Enterprise code it creates to the Bacula
Community code base within at most a 5 year period.  One exception
is that Bacula Systems is legally unable to contribute certain code
encumbered by third party proprietary license.  The 5 year delay
gives Bacula Systems the chance to develop Enterprise features that
differentiate it, but ensures the continual growth of the Bacula
Community code.  This model can possibly be used across the industry
to ensure the future of open source software in an environment where
development costs, particularly for hardware to do testing, are
prohibitive to the standard models of today.

5. The future of Bacula (the Community version):

If you have read section 4 above, hopefully if you were not already
convinced that Bacula is alive that you can now see that it will
have a long and successful future ahead of it.  If you have any
doubts, please do not hesitate to either send me an email on the
bacula-users list or directly to me (if you want it private).
Hopefully, by mid-December I will have a blog setup (need a major
upgrade of bacula.org to do so), and I will then fill you in on the
details of the Bareos fork as well as more details on what next to
expect in Bacula.

Thank you for contributing to and/or using Bacula ...

Best regards,

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