A lot of Open Source development is done for free -- which sounds nice, but developers need to make a living too in order to support themselves & their families. Most any form of development takes a substantial amount of time, so it is always a balancing act between finding employment, keeping overseeing management happy, & making progress on both Open Source interests as well as work which generates income. Finding balance amongst all of these opposing forces is a hard & constant dance. It is not uncommon to short some tasks in order to get others done more quickly. These are the realities of software development everywhere.
The point you should take from this is that the development process is complicated & hazy at best. It is difficult to impossible to know in advance how much time any piece of work will take to complete, & some will do certain tasks more quickly than others.
Does the OpenBSD project require developers to make commitments to what work they will complete? I don't know. From a project management standpoint, I suspect Theo tries to stay on top of anticipated goals along with actual progress made, however, I doubt that any agreement made with individual developers is legally binding. Do developers change jobs while still being official project developers with commit status? I'm sure the answer is yes. Changing jobs is a fact of the industry. Does this change how much time developers can provide to the OpenBSD project? Yes.
So, what is different about Conformal? I don't know other than that a number of experienced OpenBSD project developers have gone to work there, & as a result have left the project altogether. I am sure Theo is not pleased with the number of people leaving, & he is openly voicing displeasure. Could these developers have worked for Conformal AND still be OpenBSD developers?
This question is even harder to answer, & I certainly do not know all details. What you should take away from reading the misc@ thread is that there are some very strong personalities involved who are OpenBSD developers. This is true of most development efforts. Some of those who have broken away to start Conformal also have strong personalities. Currently the two sides disagree, & each has a position they believe is correct. Maybe one is more correct than the other, I don't know.
As we have attempted to elude to here, the differences are large enough between people with sufficiently strong personalities that resolution is not going to happen quickly if ever. I also believe the situation is complicated enough to make labeling as "unethical" far too simplistic a response. We don't know everything involved, & we aren't likely to ever know all the details. Being outsiders, it really isn't any of our business to probe any further other than read what is publicly stated.
All any of us can say with certainty is that it is an unfortunately event for both sides. Nothing more.
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