Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Brotherhood is Displeased

Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so low.
-- Henry Kissinger


Since this is Thanksgiving Sunday and I have nothing better to do but relax by writing this blog entry, I will take the time to respond to Jim Jagielski's answer to my ApacheCon blog entry where I basically compared it to an aging Star Trek convention. Jim finds fault with the fact that I failed to notice the goings on of the Brotherhood. Jim thinks I oughta follow what the ASF does because I owe them for the success of JBoss. Jim asks me to consider a sponsorship of the ASF, now that I have got some moollah.

Clearly, those that I feel I owe, I also feel I have already taken care of by way of the JBoss equity cap table, which included people who worked at JBoss, members of many OSS communities, as well as some members of the ASF. JBoss, and now RHT sponsor various Apache projects. We paid for coders; not politicians, or should I call them Aparachiks. The idea of funding aparachicks offends my sensibilities. Even if it didn't, I would still decline the offer. My Red Hat contract prohibits me from contributing to projects that compete with JBoss. Do I need to remind Jim that Geronimo competes with JBoss, albeit not very successfully. Should I be grateful for Geronimo?

It is interesting how many people online purport to speak for the "Community," almost as many as purport to speak for God. I find myself asking: how do they know? The open source "Community" is by definition diverse. It includes students, consultants, industry employees, volunteers, professionals, shills for IBM, hobbyists, fanatics, cynics, superheros, and the silent online majority who never show up in Google quotients. There is a certain presumptiousness in speaking in the name of The Community. Speak for yourself, not for me, not for the community. I am part of the community.

If Apache wants to remain relevant these days, it needs to lower the proverbial ratio of chiefs to Indians. It also needs to get rid of the last remnants of its historical hostility to Java and seriously ask itself what is so compelling about the BSD license to justify replicating already successful OSS projects like JBoss or, more recently, the Java VM.

I chose a model that rewarded contributors to JBoss; some people are fanatical about the BSD license; others yet devote years to learning Klingon. I don't know why, but that's the way the world is.

20 comments:

Winfried Maus said...

Marc,

That's strange, so far, I've only met people who were fanatic about the GPL... Maybe that's just another evidence for the diversity of "The Community".

Thanks for your blog and GrĂ¼sse aus Deutschland,
W.

Marcf said...

winfred,
to be sure there are fanatics on GPL as well. I have encountered many folks with strong opinions on GPL and BSD. My personal opinion is that it doesn't really matter although I tend to prefer reciprocity than not.

Wayt said...

I believe the intro quote is from Daniel Patrick Moynahan. I'm an entrepreneur who was raised as the son of a college professor, so I always got a kick out of it. So true.

john said...

Based upon the info found in Ralph Keyes' Quote Verifier the thought expressed in the intro quote likely originated with Woodrow Wilson and has several more recent reincarnations.

Vadim said...

Take something for $0, sell for $>1, = profit.

That's what Asus & others are doing these days, so you aren't any special.

Enjoy the moolah!

Jason said...

It always cracks me up when I see open source groups like apache whining that no one donates money to them. It reminds me of people that do something I don't ask them to (like wash my windshield), and then demand payment. If you want to make money, you have to earn it.

It also amazes me that they still think they wrote the massive codebase sitting in the JBoss svn servers. Perhaps they are thinking of Elba, oh wait, they didn't write that either.

Bill said...

We already "give back" to Apache by funding the work done by Remy and Mladen. Beyond that, we're supposed to pay a royalty for using log4j?

Anonymous said...

> "historical hostility to Java"
What d'u mean?

Juha Lindfors said...

Self-censoring? :-)

I swear I saw a reference here that is now gone.... but just as well, why beat the beaten, right?

Marcf said...

vadim,
people who have tried the formula you describe have not been very successful, at least in the os and appserver markets.
Professional open source was more about developping software and distributing it and selling it for a cost of say 80 at price of 100 and a profit of 20. The formula you talk about is naive, someone has to pay for the activity and we funded development and we were the legitimate purveyors of support as a result.

Marcf said...

bill,
Exactly. Without reciprocity built in the license, you appeal to people's good will. Reminds me of your entry on radioheads experiment asking for money in exchange for free downloads. Charity is not a business model, by definition.

Marcf said...

Anonymous,
I mean just that. I find it funny when c hackers dismiss java's dominance of the enterprise application landscape primarily as just a marketing ploy. Doesn't it crack you up?

Marcf said...

juha, shit you are awake.
what? Who? Me?
no, not exactly self....

Jason said...

ASF Business Plan

1) Write shit code
2) Vote
2) Beg people to use it
3) Vote Again
4) Demand payment
5) Do some more voting

Anonymous said...

I think you should start a foundation to fund the foundation:) Maybe it will be a good tax deduction. Or even better, take the money that the Geronimo team would have had if they had not stabbed JBoss in the back and put it in an interest bearing account, give them access to log in and look t the balance and puke:) Software is for love after all though, isn't it?

Vadim said...

Yeah, charity is -not- a good business model. Not in a capitalist society anyway.

But it's just basic respect that you at least share. It's not like they're asking for over 1% - giving them that even would make everybody happy and not break anyones bank.

(it all depends on how high do you take your ego)

Bill Pyne said...

Hello Vadim,

Could you please list a society in which charity is a good business model? While you're at it, would you please list a pure Capitalist society? (Keep in mind that the moment tax incentives are given to any industry/business, that society is no longer Capitalist.)

Sharing is a personal matter and should not be coerced by public humiliation. Your intentions I'm sure are admirable, but your means are dubious.

Vadim said...

Yes, you're quite right in the first paragraph.

But why shouldn't it?

It shouldn't have come under the public spotlight to begin with. But once the issue arises, inevitably it'll end up just as a war about that.

I'm not strong in the lines of these issues, myself being fairly new to the open-source field. However just going from the simple etiquette protocol, it's hard to argue against giving credit to someone for their work, or if you make money off it, to share some of that (not like they're asking for a whole lot).

But hey, if you want to be a (insert slang word here) about it, go ahead. No law is stopping you.

sourceview said...

Personally, I think Marc's hit on Apache is self-serving, just like the jboss license and his sale to RedHat. Yeah, from the perspective of a rad developer team, they are right. From the perspective of small businesses, small nonprofits and other people who want to get ahead in the world, I'll take the BSD license every time. In a similar note, why do you think Bernstein PD'ed Qmail? I suppose the Red Hat people will berate him for that too.

Roy Russo said...

Maybe the Apache guys would have better luck standing on a street corner with a "Will work for Food" sign than whining publicly about who "owes" you money.

(Just a tip, I flick my lit cigarettes at those people, so wear something non-flammable.)