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VA Linux to Sell Proprietary Version of Sourceforge 267

Cassivs writes: "There's an article claiming that VA Linux is planning on selling a proprietary, closed-source version of SourceForge, SourceForge Enterprise Edition. See the letter to SourceForge members assuring them that VA Linux will continue to provide free hosting/etc. at SourceForge. They will also continue to maintain a GPL version of the code, SourceForge Open Edition." VA is Slashdot's corporate parent.
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VA Linux to Sell Proprietary Version of Sourceforge

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 24, 2001 @08:30AM (#2212768)
    In a recent meeting with some VA Reps, they mentioned that a closed-source package of Oracle hooks would be coming out in the future, at the request of many of their large customers.

    This was, of course, an answer to our question, "when will you support Oracle?" I felt funny asking that question, but OSS be damned. Oracle has it over any other database when it comes to performance and management.
  • by q-soe ( 466472 ) on Friday August 24, 2001 @08:32AM (#2212778) Homepage
    Got modded down - well i thought you could leave it alone but then again who knows - it might have been offtopic there but i have been seeing the misinformed stories all day

    Reposted in CORRECT FORUM

    the end of the world as we know it

    Actually the story says that VA linux is going to sell some investigate ways to make some money from their software development and thus build some applications that move in new ways - this is perfectly reasonable as their employees have mouths to feed.

    I quote: (lifted without permission but maybe this wil stop the register being slashdotted)

    SourceForge is the new ERP - VA Linux
    By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
    Posted: 24/08/2001 at 07:49 GMT

    Barely six weeks ago VA Linux Systems was an open source hardware vendor. Now, the company is undertaking a Napoleonic retreat from the hardware business and it's doing the unthinkable: adding proprietary subscription software to its open source software flagship SourceForge.

    VA swallowed charges of around $230m in the last quarter - $160 million coming under the category of "impairment of goodwill and intangible assets", and almost $70 million as a one-time charge - contributing to a net loss for the quarter of $290 million as it liquidated its PC manufacturing and sales businesses.

    Costs will continue to affect the bottom line for two further quarters, said VA. Its Japanese subsidiary will continue to sell hardware, the company said, but that amounts to chump change.

    The new software-only VA expects to make an operating lost of $10 to $13 million on revenue of $3 to $4 million in the forthcoming quarter. With a cash pile of $83 million, that gives the company as little as six months to ramp revenue, or else seek new investment. VA said its burn rate will continue to decline, suggesting that more layoffs are to be expected.

    But CEO Larry Augustin is bullish. He says there was no competition for the distributed code management system SourceForge. Current development processes and tools haven't kept pace with geographically dispersed or ad hoc teams, according Augustin, who predicts that the impact of SourceForge could be as great as ERP or CRM.

    Typically VA deals with in-house developers using a range of tools (it cites Borland, Rational and Microsoft as well as GNU tools). The company emphasises that seeks to complement rather than supplant existing tools.

    VA is gunning for $600 revenue per seat per year - it claims that buyers typically see a return on investment within six months.

    Augustin talks of adding "proprietary software features and functionality" to the subscription version SourceForge. That VA is looks at the software-hoarding model to save the business is an irony a few will savour, but we guess that by now badly singed VA investors will simply be hoping it flies. ®


    They are not 'going closed source' they have had a subscription service for some time - the code is well developed and they are looking at new areas like ERP - they have a right to do it and if they dont they may very well be down the tubes.

    From someone who works in MIS and who's company has just spent AU$20 Million on SAP let me tell you that this is a field where some competitors would be good - there arent many new products that ar worth buying and three companies have it tied up - SAP, Peoplesoft and JD Edwards.

    And no - no company in their right mind would ever buy a free GPL erp system - these systems are the heart and sould of a business when you implement them - they do all payroll and accounting functions etc and no one would trust a product without a company with cash and controlled development backing it up.

    I have been accused in the past of defending MS - so it might seem strange for the people who can't see past the MS sucks argument to defend an open source company but im not that narrow minded.

    VA Linux have not sold out the GPL - they are simply running their free software projects and at the same time trying to make enough money to survive and build a new product in the meantime.

    And you can only attack them ?

    Christ have you stopped to think what this means if these guys get this right - ERP's are run on Windows or Unix Platforms - what this might give the world is a stable lower cost ERP alternative that is built on linux.

    The problem with free sourcing applications like this is that VA would be expected by their clients to do all the development work but by the brethern to give everyone that work for free and thus give competitors the chance to profit off their hard work when they adapt the code and havent got to pay for the development.

    Open source does not have to mean free IMHO - devlopment of corporate systems costs money - but maybe VA can start the ball rolling and we might win a few of those corporate file and app servers and some corporate desktops.

    So please no more meaningless VA have sold out posts - its boring and innacurate and they are only being posted here because they own Slashdot and your trying to be smart (and failing)

  • by Eagle7 ( 111475 ) on Friday August 24, 2001 @08:41AM (#2212807) Homepage
    Some reps from VA came by and gave a presentation at my company regarding this product about 2 months ago.

    Its actually pretty neat - they'll set up your own internal sourceforge on servers in your organization. And while they are doing it, they'll customize it so that the backend works with all of your already establised CM and problem tracking tools.

    The idea is that even if your company makes closed software, you can benefit from a structured way to share code within the company. They can even close off portions with restricted access, so that classified projects (I work for a defense contractor) will only be available to the developers working on it.

    The product the and the services they bring with it are really amazing... if I was in charge of such things here, I'd switch over ASAP. I really hope they make a go with this.
  • by chrysalis ( 50680 ) on Friday August 24, 2001 @08:43AM (#2212814) Homepage
    Sourceforge is a marvellous thing for developpers and it helps a lot the free software community.
    However, Sourceforge is very buggy. Sometimes the CVS server refuses authentication. Sometimes, uploading new releases is impossible. Sometimes, I have to authenticate dozens of time. And it doesn't like Opera.
    Maybe VA should fix Sourceforge before selling it.
  • by bat'ka makhno ( 207538 ) on Friday August 24, 2001 @08:43AM (#2212818)
    As a side note, does anybody know of any companies that are actually using sourceforge enterprise for interenal development?

    Yeah, HP, according to the article. I've also read elsewhere that a large NY investment bank was using SourceForge - Morgan Stanley IIRC.

    It's a good thing, for those who care about VA Linux. If those two large clients see benefits from using SourceForge, it could present LNUX with an important foothold on both coasts, in the IT as well as the financial market. Not a bad deal.

  • Of course it is news (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 24, 2001 @08:50AM (#2212836)
    Not that VA is necessarily doing something bad, but that this is quite a change in their direction.

    "We are firmly committed [valinux.com]
    to Open Source development as a methodology for creating better
    software, faster."
    -- Dr. Larry M. Augustin, president and CEO of VA Linux Systems, as quoted in a September 2000 press release.

    Later down that press release we learn that "VA Linux Systems'
    mission is to make its customers successful through the use of Linux
    and Open Source -- whether they are e-businesses rapidly expanding
    their Internet infrastructures, or technology companies leveraging the
    power and methodology of Open Source software development. As part of its commitment to expanding the Open Source community, VA Linux
    Systems operates the Open Source Development Network (OSDN)."

    Take all the references to "Open Source" out, and you have a more accurate and to-the-point statement of what seems to be their current mission.
  • Re:What good is it? (Score:4, Informative)

    by GordonMcGregor ( 27949 ) on Friday August 24, 2001 @08:52AM (#2212840)
    My employer uses sourceforge internally.

    We have approx 8000 designers/ software engineers/ admin and so can quite happily share code and jointly develop projects.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 24, 2001 @09:14AM (#2212901)
    Do you even know what ERP is? The idea (according to thereg) is not that sourceforge will provide ERP, but that the services that it does provide will be as sweepingly popular in (at least part of) the business world as ERP was during the last few years. That is, they are hoping Sourceforge installations will be the next 'thing to have' for software development shops.
  • by pole ( 13469 ) on Friday August 24, 2001 @10:10AM (#2213078)
    It's Goldman Sachs, not Morgan Stanley.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 24, 2001 @10:33AM (#2213191)
    You can find them at
    savannah.gnu.org [gnu.org].

    Savannah is the GNU project's copy of sourceforge.
  • by chrisd ( 1457 ) <chrisd@dibona.com> on Friday August 24, 2001 @12:18PM (#2213739) Homepage
    You are -ABSOLUTELY- correct. There were some instances of code that was submitted in some of the glue code that is ope nsource. I nthose cases we contacted those authors and licenced thier code so that we could do this legitimately.

    Chris DiBona

    (Speaking for VA)

  • Re:SourceForge (Score:3, Informative)

    by scrytch ( 9198 ) <chuck@myrealbox.com> on Friday August 24, 2001 @12:19PM (#2213742)
    SourceForge doesn't contain any code borrowed from other GPLed programs, does it? If it does, how are they going to get away with this? Am I the only one who sees the irony in a "Linux" company violating the GPL?

    sf itself is collection of PHP scripts which interface to various tools -- most of which are not GPL'd -- including PostgreSQL, CVS, ssh, Amanda, etc. There's a page listing the various tools they use. sourceforge as a broader concept is a service, kind of like rackspace.com for your software.

    sf is almost certainly not closing the source of the version they sell to companies, though they probably do restrict its distribution. What they are doing is charging for custom modification, such as working with existing project and QA systems. These versions are not distributed to the public, and thus are considered "internal". And it's perfectly within the spirit of the GPL, because there is an otherwise very functional core that is actively developed under the GPL, and not under the complete control of VA. This is that support model that Open Source folks have been going on about ... or did you think support was just about staffing a helpdesk?
  • by chrisd ( 1457 ) <chrisd@dibona.com> on Friday August 24, 2001 @12:49PM (#2213889) Homepage
    I think you need to understand that once something is GPL'd, you can't un-gpl the released software. For instance, if for some reason the slash code has only been written by folks in VA, (assume no pathces for this argument), and we release version 2.2 under the gpl and from that moment on we never release again, slash is still available uinder the GPL. You can't un-gpl software.

    I don't think that will ever happen, mind you. But if it did then fork it and do your own. In fact the same thing goes with SF. IF you want to write the interfaces to rational, pvcs , and open it up. Go for it. Have fun. This is part of what open source is all about.

    Honestly, sometimes I think that 99% of open source software is the willingness to do the work. I don't want to sound blasphemous, but it's just software. Anyone can write software and release it. And , looking at some of the code (oss and proprietary) just about anyone has.

    Chris DiBona

    (speaking for VA)

Garbage In -- Gospel Out.