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Re: Patent issues and 8.1

From: Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>
To: Robert Treat <xzilla(at)users(dot)sourceforge(dot)net>
Cc: Neil Conway <neilc(at)samurai(dot)com>,Bruce Momjian <pgman(at)candle(dot)pha(dot)pa(dot)us>,"Marc G(dot) Fournier" <scrappy(at)postgresql(dot)org>,PostgreSQL-development <pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: Patent issues and 8.1
Date: 2005-01-27 15:27:13
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Lists: pgsql-hackers
Robert Treat <xzilla(at)users(dot)sourceforge(dot)net> writes:
> I don't think it is worth breaking the expectation that only minor
> changes get committed in revision level releases even with a beta.

Ordinarily I would agree with you, but what happens to someone who is
still running 8.0.* when IBM's patent gets issued?  (It seems very
likely to me that the patent will be issued before 8.0 disappears from
the wild.)  We really have to have an answer for that, and that means
that an algorithm change has to get back-patched into 8.0.*.

I'm coming around to the viewpoint that we should do this as a
back-patch rather than try to release a file-compatible 8.1.  The reason
is that people who are hesitant to move up to a new release are hesitant
not only because of dump/reload costs; they also worry about whether a
new version will break their existing applications.  If 8.1 has a pile
of new features, or even simple behavioral changes such as flipping the
with_oids default, then it will look like a hazard to them even without
a dump/reload cycle.

What's really being debated here is how we can have adequate confidence
in a change that is admittedly larger than we like to back-patch.  It's
not an unprecedented thing mind you; we have back-patched some fairly
large bug fixes in the past.  But it's a bit galling to be taking any
such risk for purely legal rather than technical reasons.

			regards, tom lane

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