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Roy Schestowitz

That index was actually an idea proposed by a reader.

Over the past few years I've learned, based on very many articles and rants, which companies are open source/FS fakers and which ones are not. That's one index we/you could set up.

Another one that comes to mind is vendors (software *and* hardware) that are Linux-hostile/friendly.

That first index has become quite a popular one for those who do not know who's who. In the earlier days I used to just ask PJ, who knew the journalists' history.

I add not based on single incident, but based on recurring patterns (like gauging speed to identify speedy drivers based only on a *sample* of incidents).

Thoughts?

James Dixon

Disclaimer: I am a founder of Pentaho - business intelligence software using commercial open source model

First I am glad that there are people out there with passion about this topic.

I agree that is necessary to agree on a goal if you are going to do this. I think that if an commercial open source company is unfair to its community members, they are likely to shift to another community where their contributions are welcomed. This is also the case for all open source projects: the administrators and core developers of an open source project can be equally unfair (in my experience).

Can I assume that it is not a goal to drive commercial open source companies out of business? I hope so. If this is the case then things that constrain their ability to make money from their commercial customers or their ability to increase their commercial valuation should not be included.

I see a couple of issues with this whole thing:

1) Why judge commercial open source projects differently from non-commercial ones? To be honest I have found it easier and more satisfying making contributions to JBoss than to Apache. Some open source projects make it almost impossible to contribute. You could take a look the rating system that Bernard Golden's describes in 'Succeeding With Open Source' as a potential measure of all projects.

and much more importantly:
2) Why are you focusing on the commercial open source guys? Why not the free-loaders? You've found an easy target so you've stopped looking for better ones. There are thousands of commercial companies around the world who profit from all open source: they provide services, support, training, certified stacks etc. Search Google for 'Apache support' and look at all the sponsored links. Some of these companies do the right thing and employ full-time committers to contribute back to the projects they profit from, but many or most of them do not, and even the ones that do spend a very small fraction of their income on this. If you contribute to Apache many, many people profit from your work and contribute nothing in return. In contrast the commercial open source companies have full time engineering teams dedicated to writing open source software, they have full-time community facilitators, they host events and awards to honor open source contributors, and they create lots of lots of open source software in the full understanding that a very small fraction of the people that use the software will ever contribute as a paying customer. The difference with commercial open source is you know the people trying to profit from it. Come to OSCON, JavaOne, or LinuxWorld and you can meet them.

It is true that commercial open source companies are typically for-profit businesses. If you think businesses have no right to make money from open source then you need to fight to get all open source removed from the internet. The reality is that many businesses make money from open source. Even more companies profit (by way of reduced costs) from using open source. This is all fine. Many contributors to open source projects work in IT departments that are trying to use the software to cut costs. This is how it should be as they are the people with the use cases.

You seem to have fixated on the wrong target. I suggest that people should only contribute to open source projects (commercial or otherwise) that they find valuable. If a commercial open source project is useful to you why do you care what % of their total IP it represents? It is either useful to you or not. If everyone contributes fairly to the projects that they find the most useful, natural selection will take care of the rest. In the mean time please consider focusing your efforts on those silent free-loading, profit-making companies that only consume open source and contribute nothing.

I hope this did not come across as a rant. All the best,

James Dixon, Chief Geek, Pentaho

mtg

@James Dixon - Pentaho

I've posted a detailed answer here:
http://blog.milkingthegnu.org/eosjamesdixonpentaho.html

mtg

@Roy, thanks for contributing

I agree that those are all good ideas (people index, Linux/Unix friendly companies etc.)

The thing is, it's difficult to do everything at once. Especially if one wants to build some kind of fair/community-oriented process.

Furthermore, I like the idea of this EOS label because I really think that if more open source companies were to trust their respective community (instead of being tempted to control them) a much richer, profitable interaction would result and with it probably new business models as well.

Large companies are all flexing their muscles to enter the open source race; this does impact/transform the FOSS eco-system in ways we cannot really predict.

EOS can be a gentle but firm push from the communities in the forthcoming transition.

James Dixon

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my non-intentional rant. My responses:

If your intent is purely to focus on companies then I suggest a change of name. The term 'Equitable Open Source' does not indicate this intent to me as it could apply equally well to projects as well as companies. I think that was the basis of my initial reaction: why take something generically useful (a badge to recognize open source projects that do things right) and only apply it to commercial companies?

When I talk about community members deciding to leave I am not talking about forking necessarily. For example if you don't like the way JBoss treats your contributions to JBoss AS there are other application server and servlet engine projects you can go to. This is the case for all the main commercial open source offerings that I know of.

In regards to the 'paranoid' and anti-money statements there is a very vocal minority that have extreme views about the commercialization of open source. In order to remain balanced an effort like this needs to avoid being influenced by, or associated with, extremists from any side. I think you would need to be very explicit about that otherwise the credibility of it will wane.

I agree that there are many way to contribute (in the Beekeeper model I talk about 12 main ones http://wiki.pentaho.com/display/BEEKEEPER/The+Beekeeper). I also agree that many of the small companies offering support etc for open source do participate in the advancement and proliferation of open source. But I have come across companies that use open source internally and in their products but which forbid their staff from contributing. I have also come across companies that embed open source into their products and yet who publicly warn about the risks and dangers of open source. This doesn't seem right to me.

The free-loaders don't concern me unduly (this is what karma is for). I'm just pointing out that, in my opinion, if someone is going to spend some time and energy by focusing on a group of companies to ensure their behavior is fair by the standards of open source
communities I see a bigger bang for the buck by looking at those companies who consciously contribute little rather than those who contribute a lot. But, after all, its your time and energy.

I think the critical issue is the goal. Many commercial open source companies have to strike a daily balance between adoption and monetization. They need the adoption of an open source community (individuals) and they also need the business of customers (companies). This balance changes over time for any given company. I don't think it will be effective to judge companies at different stages in their growth on where they are striking the balance. I think that openness, access, licenses, relationship with the community and relationships with other companies are valid measurements. The other issues you list are just part of the business model in some cases and I don't think its your intent to judge based on that (or is it?).

James Dixon, Chief Geek, Pentaho.

mtg


@James Dixon - Pentaho

I've appended a detailed answer to the previous one:
http://blog.milkingthegnu.org/eosjamesdixonpentaho.html

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