Talking with Likewise on GPLv3 and community management

Talking with Likewise on GPLv3 and community management

Summary: I've been watching Palamida's tracking of GPLv3 (and LGPLv3) adoption over the last year with interest. It looks like adoption is moving at a reasonable, if not super-speedy, pace.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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I've been watching Palamida's tracking of GPLv3 (and LGPLv3) adoption over the last year with interest. It looks like adoption is moving at a reasonable, if not super-speedy, pace. However, not everyone is moving from version 2 to version 3. One company, Likewise, actually decided to move backwards from GPLv3 to GPLv2 and LGPLv2.

Barry Crist is CEO of Likewise Software, a company that ships open source and proprietary software. Crist was kind enough to answer questions about Likewise's community strategy, and why they moved from GPLv3 to GPLv2 and LGPLv2.

Q: What's Likewise's community strategy? What kind of community are you looking for, and what are the goals for your community?

Likewise is working to develop a strong technical community that comprises of key partners and customers. We have three primary goals of our community efforts.

One, to continually strengthen our product through the involvement of key development talent that is outside of the company.

Two, to build widespread technical awareness of Likewise Open as the best solution to integrate non-windows systems into Active Directory.

Three, finally, to provide Likewise Open as a platform can be integrated into other products (such as our Citrix/Xen or Isilon relationships).

Q: How does Likewise work with its community? Do you have a community manager, or how does the company interact with the FOSS community?

We have various mechanisms for working with our community: informal dialog through e-mail and discussions at events; formal dialog through our mailing lists or forums; we allow code contributions to our source repository (with our review); and we hold meetings and events from time-to-time (will likely formalize this more in 2009)

Jerry Carter is our Community Manager; in additon to developing the community he works closely with our distribution partners such as Ubuntu, Novell, and Red Hat.

Q: What kind of tools does Likewise use to interact with the community? What methods are most successful?

Likewise interacts with the open source community in several ways. One, we have a dedicated area on the Web site for community topics with various tools like support via forums and our mailing list, pre-built binaries for many OS distributions, source code repository for outside developers, and documentation including whitepapers, podcasts, webinars, etc.

Another area is direct participation (including speaking and training engagements) in various OSS events: SambaXP, Red Hat Forum, Novell Brainshare, Linux World, etc.

We also make improvements to related software like Samba, MIT Kerberos, OpenLDAP, etc. Distribution of Likewise Software via OS vendors and other sources such as SourceForge, Freshmeat, etc. The Web site is probably our most valuable resource.

Q: Any major features or improvements that have resulted from the community?

Users of Likewise Open have resulted in improvements related to working in unusual/messy AD topologies and are driving new features related to how we handle UNIX-to-AD id mapping.

Q: I see from this page that Likewise uses the LGPL v2.1 for the Fall 08 edition and the GPLv3 for the Spring 08 edition. Why were those licenses chosen, and if LGPL v2 has replaced GPLv3, why did Likewise prefer the LGPL to GPLv3?

The Spring Edition of Likewise Open included OSS components licensed with GPLv3. The Fall edition has replaced these components with our own code that is licensed under GPL and LGPL v2. Additionally, since we own the copyrights to the new code, we are able to license this code to commercial vendors under other licenses.

Q: In general, how were the licenses chosen and how do they fit the company's goals?

Likewise is committed to making software available to the Open Source community but also has an Enterprise product that is only available with a proprietary license. The goal is to continue to add more functionality to the Open product as the Enterprise product continues to progress, as well. Additionally, Likewise has several OEM customers that license our software with proprietary licenses.

Q: Any other thoughts on community management or how the business interacts with the FOSS community?

We've been very satisfied that our community investments drive tangible business results for the company. We will increase our community efforts in 2009 as a result.

Topic: Open Source

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