Whom do you trust to maintain open source projects?

Whom do you trust to maintain open source projects?

Summary: JavaWorld has a piece that asks the question, who should maintain open source projects? Obviously, this is looking beyond the many one-man open source projects that are part of the ecosystem and focusing on the big dogs of the open source space.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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JavaWorld has a piece that asks the question, who should maintain open source projects?

Obviously, this is looking beyond the many one-man open source projects that are part of the ecosystem and focusing on the big dogs of the open source space.

The article looks at two models--the company-controlled project?and the community-controlled project. JBoss and MySQL are examples of the company-controlled model, where a company basically controls a project in much the same way that it would a proprietary product, but the product is available under an open source license. The other example is The Apache Foundation, which maintains many projects such as the Apache Web server, Geronimo, Ant and others.

This strikes me as a kind of "Coke or Pepsi" question. There's no right answer, and sometimes you don't really have a choice. Take X.org and XFree86. Both X Window System implementations are community-driven; there are no open source X Window System implementations put out by a single company in the same fashion as MySQL or JBoss.

But, all things being equal, would you rather depend on a community or a company? There are quite a few reasons to prefer company-driven development. Community projects that depend on unpaid staff and group consensus can be slow to release (Debian) and tend to have fewer individuals who want to work on the less shiny parts of the project. A company can simply hire people to Get Things Done and there's no need to build consensus to plan a project roadmap, nor does a company have to wait for someone to step up and volunteer for the less attractive tasks.

On the other hand, when you depend on a single company to manage a project, you have to follow their roadmap. While a community-driven project may be constrained by lack of volunteers, companies can be constrained by budgets. And, there is generally less participation when developers are required to assign copyright to a company in order to see patches and changes merged into a company's codebase.

What do you think? When given a choice, whom do you trust? Tell me in TalkBack.

Topic: Open Source

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