What’s up with nano?

As expected, the recent state of events where nano transitioned maintainership to Benno Schulenberg, and the project left GNU, has a lot of people speculating about what happened, and more disappointingly, making some pretty nasty assertions about motivations.  I want to try and give a brief update on them to hopefully calm things down.

  • I was mandating copyright assignment from Benno.  False.  What happened: In an effort to transition maintainership to Benno, as he was clearly far more capable and available than I have been for some time, I tried to get him added to the GNU maintainers list to peacefuly transition the project to him.  A private thread ensued between myself, GNU, and Benno, and what came out of that conversation was that Benno was not going to be allowed to become a maintainer of the project in GNU’s eyes. He would have not been able to upload to ftp.gnu.org, etc.  Which leads us to…
  • Benno took over the project in a hostile way.  False.  What happened: The project team voted, and while the majority of team had a slight to moderate preference to stay with GNU, many did not care either way.  Since Benno could not be the maintainer for nano under GNU’s banner, it made sense to move the project back out from under GNU.  When I informed them of what happened, GNU viewed this as Benno forking the project.  While that’s true, I don’t believe Benno had any choice but to do exactly that.  That does not mean the editor was stolen from GNU or any sort of malice has been committed here.A lot of people who care about nano are trying to do what’s best for it, and GNU and Benno just have different ideas about what that is.  I don’t feel I have much say in the matter since, as mentioned, I have not had the time to maintain the project for a long time now, so I am not trying to take sides or place any blame here.  If it sounds like I am that is completely unintentional, as I have great respect for both GNU and Benno.
  • Benno took over the website in a hostile way.  False.  What happened: Mike Frysinger, another member of the project who happens to work with me, came to chat with me about how to transition the project to Benno, since at the time I saw no solution other than letting nano leave GNU and become run by Benno.  I (of my own free will) re-pointed the nano website to a new server hosted by Mike.  I want to call out Mike and Jordi Mallach for attempting to keep the project whole, or when it became clesr that it could not be kept whole, transition it in a responsible way.  The website is a rather trivial part of this project, and is only referenced in one place by the source code.  Clearly it has sentimental value to some, but this is really being blown out of proportion.Nano’s website could be anything, nano-editor.org just happened to be something I registered a long time ago, and as it holds sentimental value to me as well (and does not require much overhead to maintain) I continue to hold onto it.  If GNU does continue development, it’s unclear what would happen to the domain, but my preference would be to leave it pointed at Banno’s version of the project and use the GNU website for its version.

I hope that clarifies at least some of the things being said about this issue, and obviously it’s still not clear what the future holds.  This has not been easy for anyone on the project, and I’d ask that people be respectful of all parties involved when trying to determine a way forward.

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