I took a call from Brussels, Belgium, this morning, from Ben Kwiecinski.
It was about Mambo, the open source CMS project. A dispute between Miro Software, which created the original code, and its development team, has resulted in Miro placing the code with a foundation it created and the developers walking away from it.
Kwiecinski was pretty down on the Foundation. "This foundation hasn’t done anything right as far as I’m concerned," he said. As he talked it reminded me of what happened at a neighbor's church, where the pastor wanted one thing and the deacons another. The pastor left, and parishioners had to choose. (Most went with the pastor.)
"All this was sprung on us a few weeks ago," said Kwiecinski. "This is not the way to do it. The foundation needs to come from within the community, and it must be a consultative process, or people feel alienated."
I don't know who's right here. I do know that CMS software is mission critical to many businesses (maybe to most businesses), that Mambo has been downloaded 5 million times, and that those users are now caught east of the rock and west of the hard place. Should they follow the fork? Which side is the fork?
And what does this say to the open source community at large? If a great project like Mambo can be split like this, it makes it that much more difficult for a business to trust its future to open source, any open source.
My guess is users will choose, in time, based on performance. Kwiecinski makes it sound like a freely competitive situation. "We’ll have two people doing the same thing, with the same code, in the same way, just under another name." But a year from now, or two, people will have to choose, and either way they go, they're going with an outfit that is smaller (when compared to proprietary competitors) than it would be otherwise.
Why not just call Oracle?