OutKafe: the Zybacafe outcast forks
March saw the first release of OutKafe, a full-featured cybercafe management suite under the Gnu Public Licence (GPL). OutKafe was forked from the parts of the ZybaCafe project (see story on its alpha release) which fell under the GPL, with the intention of replacing all the proprietary modules with free alternatives to create a completely free suite.
OutKafe includes a management tool, various platform specific user-clients, a control daemon and a postgresql database. Any number of extensions can also be plugged into the system at various points.
Presently the first release, numbered 5.0.0, matches the full feature set of the free parts of ZybaCafe last release. The next phase of development will entail a grounds-up reimplementation of the non-free parts using non-proprietary software so that it can be released under the GPL.
Venter explained: “Unlike previously, there is no outside sponsor for the project now [previously OpenLab International], instead it is being sponsored by OutKast IT Solutions. Since I am a 50% partner, and the CEO of this company – it is therefore within our power now to declare OutKafe a development done for joy and the benefit of the community – where every part will always be fully free.”
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Asked why the decision was made to fork rather than to just continue to develop ZybaCafe and replace the proprietary bits, Venter explained that the vast majority of the coding was done on OpenLab time and that it holds the copyright. “The only way to completely prevent any accusations of code-theft and ensure that the new parts will be undeniably free software was to fork the core system first,” he replied. By doing this and making the replacement parts linkable only against liboutkafe, he can prove that it was written from scratch.
“I believe that ever making the project a corporate-development was a very bad mistake – suddenly deadlines were dictated, timeframes and budgets and all that stuff got into play… basically it stopped being fun and it stopped being a case of ‘release when I am good and ready'”, he added.
“From a technical point of view, I believe the stability of the project to have suffered greatly because of this change. The other reason for a fork is to return to the old model: OutKafe is something done for fun, done right, not intended to make profit – and therefore never again subject to market forces,” Venter concluded.