Are Linux vendors predatory?

But is Covalent predatory? Gosh, no. Because Covalent does not take control over any code it supports. You or I are free to go into direct competition with Covalent, supporting the exact same products.

Killer Penguin Ale label
I want to continue our discussion about penguins as predators by talking about Covalent.

(This limited edition ale was described as ""a bomber you can't refuse" by its producer, Boulder Brewing.)

Covalent's business is supporting open source projects, then selling direct support of the same software to corporate clients. Covalent doesn't launch projects. If projects fade in popularity, Covalent can go support other projects -- the loss is minimal.

Today Covalent added support for nine new Apache technologies to its roster and it's expanding, on a per-incident basis, into support for non-Apache offerings, including Interface21's Spring Framework.

Is it being predatory? I put this to Covalent CEO Mark Brewer. "You're right. We choose projects as they mature and need support. If they die we can make the decision to no longer support them."

But is Covalent predatory? Gosh, no. Because Covalent does not take control over any code it supports. You or I are free to go into direct competition with Covalent, supporting the exact same products.

Which for Brewer brought up an interesting point. "I count 10 different start up CEOs who graduated from Covalent." Not counting Jim Zemlin, now executive director of the Linux Foundation.

There are many ways to play the open source game. You can release code you wrote and seek to control it, through some version of a BSD license. You can release code and seek support for it. You can support others' code-writing efforts.

And Brewer notes, Covalent does take development risks. "We provide committers and work on projects that aren't out yet. We work on new versions of software where there is no money yet."

Once again, the use of a penguin as the Linux mascot is apropos. Cute on the land, highly competitive in its own environment. Don't let that tuxedo fool you.