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Important and Long Delayed News
April 6th, 2007 - 6:19PM EST
Many years ago when this project was first started, it was called "GTK+ AOL Instant Messenger." AOL naturally complained, and Mark Spencer changed the name to "Gaim." AOL was appeased, and no one really ever heard of it because there were very few users back then.
A few years later AOL trademarked "AIM," and started referring to their IM services using that name. They complained. The issue was brought up on Slashdot, and the Gaim developers at the time got some legal support. That legal support advised that the ongoing discussions with AOL be kept confidential until fully settled, and so it remained. The public thought the issue had gone away then. It sorta did, in that AOL stopped responding to Gaim's legal support for a while.
Our legal support has changed several times, and each group of lawyers have recommended silence & secrecy. Around the time of Gaim's first 2.0.0 beta, AOL came back into our lives in a very strong way, this time threatening to sue Sean.
This represents a clear pattern. AOL received more pushback than they expected, and would sort of let things stand for a while. Then they would threaten a different Gaim developer. Each time a new Gaim developer was threatened, we had to look at new legal support, to prevent a conflict of interest.
This process could not go on forever. As a result we ended up forming the Instant Messaging Freedom Corporation, and making it legally responsible for Gaim. We also had our new legal support work to create a real settlement with AOL that would get this issue dismissed from our lives forever.
Getting a settlement with AOL has taken FAR FAR longer than we would have ever guessed. On legal advice, we have refrained from any non-beta release during this process as a show of good faith, and to keep AOL from giving up on it. Again, on legal advice, we have also kept this information closely controlled.
At long last, I am pleased to announce that we have a signed settlement and can release our new version. There is one catch however: we have had to change the project's name.
After a long, and unfortunately secret debate (as we could not say why we were looking at a name change, we ended up just doing this ourselves), we settled on the name "Pidgin" for gaim itself, "libpurple" for libgaim (which, as of 2.0.0 beta6, exists), and "Finch" for gaim-text. Yes, the spelling of "Pidgin" is intentional, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pidgin.
Since so much is changing between the name and the nature of the 2.0.0 release itself, we decided to go ahead with something we have talked about doing for a while now. We have set up our own server, kindly donated by DVLabs. As a result our new home will be www.pidgin.im and developer.pidgin.im We, at least for now, will still be using SF's mirroring system for releases. However, the bug tracking will no longer be on SF, and we will be migrating the mailing lists at some point soon. Also, we have chosen to go with monotone for our revision control, rather than the SF cvs or svn.
In the last week or so, an upgrade to SF's infrastructure caused an old version of the gaim-cabal list to become briefly public. It has always been our intention to end-of-life this list and make its archives public once the settlement was signed. Fortunately, the legal process has concluded, allowing us to make a formal announcement now, instead of months from now.
I, and all of pidgin's development team have deeply hated the need to keep some portion of our work, decision making and discussion secret for a time. I sincerely apologize that as a result of this need, you all have had no chance to help us with it, and to provide feedback.
Now that the settlement is signed, we hope to have the final Pidgin 2.0.0 release late this week or early next.
We are going to release it with a 2.0.0 version number, and an API compatibility layer for plugin authors. The project has not changed; this is our 2.0.0 release, not some new program that requires new version numbering.
I have to wonder if this is now becoming the shape of things to come - as FOSS becomes more prevalent I can see this happening a lot. Big companies have never shied away from the difficult task of fighting smaller companies. Kudos to Gaim for not backing down and for creating a seperate legal entity to do their fighting for them.
I think the countdown until aMSN is in the same boat has now started.....