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IBM

Behlendorf Interview in developerWorks 21

IBM's new developerWorks site has an article on IBM's relationship with the Apache Group, followed by an interview with Brian Behlendorf. The article gives some insight into working with commercial entities, and what the experience has been like for both Apache and IBM.
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Behlendorf Interview in developerWorks

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  • Thanks for the heads-up, Steve. I linked to the "old" IBM developer site by mistake. Change made.
  • So long as the 2.0 servlet API suits your needs, you can use JServ [apache.org] with apache. I'm pretty happy with it so far.
  • In Open Sources [oreilly.com] Brian made it very clear that the Apache group has been friendly to commercial interests from the beginning. In fact the project is under a BSD license and a significant portion of the key developers also own companies that sell products [c2.net] based on Apache. (Not that they planned things that way, but they wanted to leave the possibility open.) Therefore I have to think that when IBM came in and wanted to do the exact same thing, well they are bigger than the rest but far from the first in the Apache group with that strategy.

    But in many other OSS groups I think that IBM would not have fit in nearly as well.

    Another point that Brian makes which gets glossed over by some Rah, rah, OSS is great! types is that OSS works out differently in different types of areas. He made the point that open source works well for certain types of projects but not at all for others. He gave as an extreme example that it fails for software for doing surveys for finding oil.

    I have seen points like this made in many ways by many people, but for me the first and best version was one that I saw made by an engineer here. The engineer compared software to engineering and pointed out that in engineering there is a spectrum in terms of secrecy. If you are engaged in designing roads, buildings, or other things that have to do with basic infrastructure, then your exact design will be open, publically reviewed, and verified by outside people. This is because people have learned (the hard way) that this is the only way to reliably get quality. At an opposite extreme the design of the latest consumer device is likely to have a design that is kept secret.

    He then drew the same comparison to software, and pointed out that open source software first showed up where it made the most sense, in the infrastructure of the Internet. As it matures it has been developing into smaller and smaller niches. He saw this as a sign that software is maturing just like engineering did before. But, he maintained, there will always remain niches where open source simply does not make sense.

    As I say, I have since seen the same point made many times (including in several essays in Open Sources), but the first time was the biggest eye-opener for me.

    Regards,
    Ben Tilly
  • The Link there is wrong. IBM developerWorks is at http://www.ibm.com/developerWorks [ibm.com]
  • That should be very cool. I have wanted to play around with servlets for some time now!
    The ASF is going to be a good thing for the advancement of apache. Always nice to have the big names like IBM contributing to the open source projects, too.
  • www.hyperreal.org

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  • Yes, that would be Laura LaGassa, and it is probable that if you had to choose, she's the coder in the family :)

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  • Making money is the next big problem facing the whole open source thing as a concept. Once an OSS probject gets "swallowed" by commercial interests, the willingness of folks to just donate their time on it dwindles. It ceaces to become a hobby and instead becomes a job. Look at Mozilla -- who wants to donate their free time to that when there is already an army of people paid to work on the code? Look at sendmail -- now that it is sendmail.com, who outside of that company is ever going to really work on the program? Same thing for tcl/tk and scriptics, etc. Problem is, once this happens, a lot of the advantages of the open source development model go away.

    So, I just hope IBM and Apache figure it all out for the rest of the planet. ;-)
  • IBM is a member of the Apache Group, and not the other way around. It's a quite different state of affairs than with Apple or Netscape.

    Apache has a culture that is much different than many open source projects. So far it seems as if IBM fits in well.
  • Always nice to have the big names like IBM contributing to the open source projects, too.
    I think it's great that IBM's doing this sort of thing. Now if only people like Apple or somebody could start dishing out the $..

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