Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Freedom to Fork - Hard Lessons for Compiere

I saw over on Matt Asay's blog that Compiere has been forked.

I do not know their founder personally (Jorg Janke), but I have met him a number of times in the past. I'm sure he doesn't remember me. I remember talking to him 1.5 years ago when he moved to Portland about VCs. He was moving into the same incubator as my previous employer here in Portland (an OSS ESB company that failed). He said something like, "they will take your left arm". Well, I don't know about that, but either he was too worried about losing his "left arm" (and neglected the most crucial part of OSS - community), OR they did take his left arm and he can no longer code like the dickens (they probably started talking to VCs six months ago and got very distracted by that and moving to SF - silly idea when you have a thriving international community and you are already in one of the most OSS friendly cities in the world!?).

Now I have no idea what the truth is here.

Just yesterday, however, I was on a 6:30 AM ccall extolling the virtues of the "freedom to fork". This crucial aspect of OSS gives the community incredible power over the software it invests in. This is software the way God intended it to be. It is separation of powers just like (we think/hope) our democracies work.

I hope that Compiere Inc. turns this around - it isn't too late. But it better shell out some of that $6M to make amends with its #1 asset - the community that is invested in it. Hey Larry Augustin is on the Compiere board! I just listened to a fantastic talk of his last week at GOSCON. Here is the summary:

One of the hardest parts of utilizing Open Source is building true community involvement. The benefits of Open Source only accrue when an outside third party community participates. This talk will describe various ways to help engage a community around your Open Source project.

Larry, give Jorg the presentation quick!

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