The first version of Glimpse photo editor, a fork of Gimp, just came out. Unfortunately, an avalanche of criticism by some community members has promptly followed. The reactions range from claiming the Glimpse team are not bringing any value, to accusing them of stealing the Gimp code. To be honest, I found the overall tone quite unreasonable. So, I will try to refute the claims and explain why forking Gimp into Glimpse is a positive development.
“The authors are over-sensitive SJWs”
The most common critique is, that the project was started because of personal sensitivities. More specifically, because the team found “gimp” to be an offensive term. However, if you see their motivation behind the rebranding, you will learn, that it was not the case. Rather, the reason was, that the name hampered Gimp’s adoption in professional and education settings. Therefore, to further spread open-source software, a change was necessary. Since the Gimp team had no intention of rebranding it, they encouraged forking the project to rename it themselves.
“It’s just a name change”
Another prevalent complain is, that Glimpse brings nothing beyond a name change. Well, anyone expecting sweeping changes in 0.1 version needs a reality check. HOwerver, the team already introduced some nice improvements, such as new Windows installer and improved builds. And their ultimate goal is to develop a better GUI (another thing that original authors refuse to change). But you have to start somewhere. Release early, release often, as the say.
“How can they ask for money, without a single line of code?”
Some people were outraged by the fact, that the Glimpse team had a Patreon page. The argument was, that they are charging money for other programmers’ work. First of all, the donations are not supposed to be thanks for the code already written. Instead, they are meant to fund the future work outlined above. Furthermore, they actually share the funds with Gimp. Compare that to Gimp, who have failed to create an organization you could donate to. As a result, you have to hunt down the individual developers on Patreon. It is plain to see, that the Glimpse model simplifies things greatly.
“They haven’t touched Gimp before”
Critics have also pointed out, that the Glimpse team members have never contributed to Gimp before. But that actually means, that the project has attracted new contributors. People, who might have chosen not to contribute to Gimp, due to difference of opinion, have found a venue for implementing their ideas. Open-source is always coping with a lack of new developers, so this is definitely a positive result.
The creation of Glimpse has given an opportunity to people, who might not contribute to open-source otherwise. They provide a alternative solution to things, that Gimp are not willing to change. All the while trying to foster a positive relationship with the upstream project. One, where code and funds are shared for the benefit of both. That’s something to applaud, not scorn.