It’s the Community, Stupid.

There’s been a lot of discussion regarding the usage of the term “Open Source” this week. I feel a quick post on my views on the subject is in order (whilst I consider a hit-and-run friday night commit).

Firstly, let’s get things straight, I’m not in the pay of The OpenNMS Group. Tarus may have bought me lunch a few times but hey, I’ve bought him lunch too. We’re friends.

But the whole “Fauxpen Source” debate has made me question why I’m involved with the OpenNMS Project. On an emotional level, I’m deeply vested in the success of the Project. But on a week like this, where I’ve struggled to balance a demanding job, family and chasing an OpenNMS bug to meet a release deadline, it’s a question that really deserves an answer.

The OpenNMS Project is a fascinating cultural and technical experiment. It’s a great chance for learning and professional development, driven by a diverse community of very smart people. In short, “It’s the Community, Stupid”.

My relationship with the OpenNMS Project (the code and the community) is ultimately a carefully balanced one. I have many calls on my free time. Would I contribute to a dual-license/open-core/prorietary/whatever project in the same way? Of course I wouldn’t. I’d rather drink beer and watch BSG.

it’s about control. If the controlling stake in the community is with the market, or private equity, then I have no control, and I will find somebody else to play with. If I hold the controlling stake, then I’m free to dictate the rules of the game and people will play with me only if I have the best (or only) toys. If the relationship is one of many equals, with none substantially dependent on the other, then maybe everyone will want to play together. That’s my kind of community.

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