Is the Vert.x episode spotlighting an open source weakness?

January 11, 2013 § 10 Comments

With all my Sun years advocating open source and my following closely of the Hudson/Jenkins drama from within Oracle some two years ago, I’ve been tracking the recent vert.x issue with quite some detachment (I’m no longer at Oracle and I’m not involved in any way in this technology) but also with a lot of interest. What was really fascinating was to read everyone’s perspective bias in the public discussion :

  • A (somewhat naive) lead and creator of the project caught in the middle of politics
  • Red Hat’s experience with Netty influencing its current behavior
  • VMWare claiming they have lots of open source experience too
  • The idea that foundations would solve all the IP and governance issues
  • My foundation is better than yours arguments
  • The realization that neither Eclipse nor Apache are ideal
  • Jenkins’ Kohsuke suggesting nonprofits for shared assets
  • The Eclipse Foundation being called once again a trade association
  • etc…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ascending_and_Descending.jpg

Clearly, as Simon Phipps writes in his column, “In an age of open source, it’s hard to acquire a technology” and this brings up what I think is a paradox for any open source believer :

This recent episode will make it even harder for startups to bet on open source to find funding and for companies to be acquired for their open source assets, thus in turn leading to less usage of open source.

In the end, isn’t this underlying a weakness of the greater open source cause or should open source technologies never be a reason to acquire (or sell) a company?

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§ 10 Responses to Is the Vert.x episode spotlighting an open source weakness?

  • acquisition by contribution and start ups save costs on sw. even ibm has been doing it.

  • turtle says:

    Not really. Nobody is doing a fork if project governor leaves enough freedom for community to influence. Just don’t be too controlling and everybody will be happy.
    Actually this is in the best commercial interest of the governor because project will move to what actually community (i.e. potential customers) want instead to something stupid.

    P.S. I don’t know any details about the vert.x issue at hand

  • Andy Piper says:

    “My foundation is better than yours arguments” – actually I think the discussion has been refreshingly clear of those. It has been more along the lines of clarifying the ways the foundations in play work, and the differences between them.

  • Andy Piper says:

    I enjoyed Ian Skerrett’s take on the discussion, too http://ianskerrett.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/why-open-source-governance-matters-vert-x-case-study/ – this highlights the value of governance to protect companies that choose to use OSS. Seen through practial eyes, what has happened here was an administrative change of asset ownership, and a discussion about how to move forward.

    • alexismp says:

      Where a project is in its lifetime matters here.
      From a (long) distance I find vert.x to be too small to be constrained by the overhead required by apache or eclipse.

  • pelegri says:

    In my experience, the details matter. And the public threads don’t give me enough info about what happened around Vert.x…

  • Lots of drama for such a small project. vertx falls into the category of the projects to keep an eye on, but it’s far from being as prominent as it was the case for – say – Hudson.

    Other than that we have a developer that had the rare chance of being employed to work on opensource.

    As he leaves to another company it makes a lot of sense that his previous one asks for the transfer of domains and project credentials. It’s not much different from giving back the laptop that your employer had for you. He may have created vertx, yet what he wrote himself still belongs to his former employer.

    Now the rest of the story is as you said a big chess game between corporations and (corporation-backed) foundations.

    In the end of the day this is a project released under a permissive license. Nothing forbids derivative works. Nothing forbids contributions to the original project even if it is your ex-employer. And nothing forbids communities to choose the “most active camp”, especially when the project remains so young.

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