Open Response to Open Letter to the Netatalk Community

I can’t help but notice that you seem to think yourself above some pretty important facts with the coup you appear to be attempting towards Netatalk.

First, and most importantly, while there are currently only a small handful of devs, you’re standing on the shoulders of giants. I haven’t done any source analysis as to how many klocs you have contributed vs not, but I’ll bet its a tiny percentage- especially if you factor in total klocs contributed over the 15(?) years of the project versus your relatively recent involvement.

Secondly, your act of “big companies should pay me or they can’t have Netatalk” shows a gross misunderstanding as to how Open Source works, and the rules the GPL binds you by. Please don’t feed the trolls with claims that there are lots of BSD headers running around source files, as some of your strawmen have been doing in various forums. That’s bunk and well-explained in historical discussions. Every line of Netatalk code is under the GPL unless you want to base “your” version of Netatalk off of versions prior to 1.5, when it was BSD-licensed.

Lastly, I’m disappointed in you. I won’t betray confidence implied in discussions we’ve had, but this isn’t something I would have expected from you. Your assertion that “it’s better to have an actively developed Netatalk, than a non-free, non-open Netatalk” is very incorrect. It is the freedom and openness that got it to the point where you could derive value from locking it up.

I’m sorry your business plan is obviously not working the way you’d like. This isn’t the solution. The solution is to change or replace your business plan, not commit at worst legal license violations, and at best very disrespectful and dishonorable acts with that which is not yours.

Matthew Keller

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6 Responses to Open Response to Open Letter to the Netatalk Community

  1. franklahm says:


    I’m sorry for the uproar my ill advised and deliberate move is causing. But I still think you’re misunderstanding my action, possibly due to insufficient explanation in my letter. It boils down to:
    1) either I fail to use 10.7 TimeMachine compatibility as Archimedian point to break up the “who moves first loses” deadlock the NAS OEMS are locked in, then I give up, push source to Sourceforge and move on, or
    2) I succeed and together with enough interested NAS OEMs can continue to work on the project _in an completely open way_.
    Either way, the code will be there and it will be free as before, it might just take a few months to sort this all out. I’ve been contacted by five OEMS the last days, so I’m full of hope 2) will materialize sometimes soon.
    I really hope this answers some of your serious concerns. Standing on the shoulder of giants, stood there alone, wanted to stay longer.

  2. Bob A. Tron says:

    Why would you hold code that doesn’t morally belong to you hostage? You knew this when you started developing for netatalk, and you agreed to it.

  3. ScaredyCat says:


    Thanks for this response it’s much more reserved and considered than I could have mustered having just read that tripe. He’s also wrong, it’s not a fork or a spoon; it’s a knife. Perhaps we would be better off without them.


  4. Robert says:

    I don’t understand the business model of hurting your customers and expecting a paycheck. He’s going to get obliterated by the market for doing this This is exactly what he’s doing to the mac community. End users are beig hurt by this, their backup are failing. People are going to lose their family photos, their financials, and other irreplaceable data because of this. I know my freenas installation isn’t working as a backup currently thanks to frank here, maybe a new maintainer is in order? I don’t know why he thinks he’s above the law, but it’s probably time he ceases development.

  5. Kawaii Gardiner says:

    I’m using a DroboFS device which depends on Netatalk for AFP support – what I’m confused about is why there isn’t an option to donate money to the project? I’ve just visited the Netatalk website and there is no link on the front page anywhere which will allow me to donate. Sure, ok some of the heavy lifting is done by commercial companies but if the project is in such need of support then wouldn’t it have been better to allow people to donate money instead of holding back to the code until ‘the demands have been met”?

  6. Rolf says:


    Will you ever be able to look into the eyes of an Mac user who has actually lost important personal data because he has not had the time, the money or the knowledge to quickly find and install some workaround for his backup processes and then had the bad luck to run into problems?
    The quickest solution for us “hostages” to reestablish a reliably working backup process before WD and others finally publish their updates is probably “Time Capsule”. Every Mac user going this way means loss of business to these NAS manufacturers. I cannot imagine that they will thank you for this by making business with you – they will let you fall from your Archimedian point as soon as possible. Happy landing!


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