At iFountain, we’ve embraced the open source business model since the beginning of 2008.
Since then, we’ve been working on not only moving our code but also our development practices to open source. We’ve established a separate site for open source development, ifountain.org, where everything is out in the open, source code, documents, discussions, project plans, issues, etc. We’ve also defined what we mean by “open development“ and we try to live by it.
So far, the development is still done by iFountain employees. It should be no surprise to anyone, it wasn’t to us. Building a community is not easy, and takes time. Int he foreseeable future, we don’t expect a lot of external developer help (though it would be more than welcome) but we hope that we can establish a community that would guide where the project is heading. Most IT management folks (including this one) are not software developers, hence they may not be able to contribute code, but they are the subject matter experts, have first hand knowledge of what is needed in the field, hence can help the project immensely by guiding it with suggestions, feature requests, evangelizing etc.
The importance and value of the community for a project, even one supported by a commercial entity, is well explained and understood, so no need for me to repeat it here, needless to say, we will continue to build our community as the project takes shape. Sooner the better.
Netcoolusers is a lively mailing list based community and I started following it after I got my NCC back in 2000. There has been several discussions on the list about alternative web based interfaces that take advantage of web 2.0 technologies, etc. in the past. Several people had were interested in alternatives, stating that Webtop does not meet their requirements and some had to build in-house solutions themselves. I had not mentioned RapidInsight in the list at the time, even though it was such a solution since it was a commercial product.
Today, I’ve sent an email to netcoolusers mailing list announcing the RapidInsight open source project in the list, as it is directly relevant to the Netcool community. Email had brief summary of the motivation for the project has come from, gave some highlights and included a link to the open source site, where interested parties can learn more about the project and take a look at the demo, download the software etc.
Next think I know, I was kicked out of the mailing list by the administrator (Jim Popovitch) for “unsolicited commercial solicitation”. You can take a look at the email and judge yourself. I certainly don’t see it as such. There is well established precedence where open source projects are mentioned freely including ones by the mailing list admins. I replied to Jim’s email explaining my point of view and left it at that. As much as Netcoolusers is a “community”, it is controlled by two people afaik, and there is no mechanism for due process. They make the rules and they are the judge and the jury.
Just sigh and move on… But it didn’t end there.
Others responded to my email, asking questions, naturally unaware that I can no longer respond to their emails, as there is no indication that I got kicked out. Then came this email from another list admin, Jacob Steinberger. Now hold on a minute! How about distorting the facts, and spreading misinformation. Is that not against the TOS of the mailing list? No? How about just plain decency?
Jacob writes: “While the email initially looks like a great thing to help the IBMuse Netcool GUI move in a direction that we have longed for the last half of his email and Blurry’s forwarding of his private email, shows that he (and iFountain) are out to make a buck.”
The last half of my email lists some of the RapidInsight features describing why it may be off interest to users, and asks for feedback and participation. That somehow suggests that I have evil intentions to “make a buck”? Oh no, iFountain will offer support for an open source project, run for the hills! bad, bad boy!
What I described to Blurry was that we plan to follow what’s referred as the JBoss model, as it is well established in the market. The product will be available with GPL v2 license and we will offer support and professional services. Having said that, bear in mind, I did NOT even mention any of this in my email to the list.
“Trying to sell something, whether it’s a product, consulting services or support, is strictly against the TOS of INUG. Any violators of this policy will be removed from the list.”
There is nothing about a sale of product or services or support in my email to the list. Just the announcement of availability of RapidInsight as an open source project, that’s it. Announcement of an open source project is not a sales offer. The information on our intend to offer support was in a private email to Blurry as he asked about it directly. He chose to forward the information to the list when he found out I got banned from the list.
If that’s not bad enough, he did not stop there:
“Additionally, when a potential vendor’s website (iFoutain’s) states …
Thou shall have unrestricted access to the software. The software products will be available for download from the website without barriers. The community will be able to download and start using the software right away.
… yet requires you to create an account to download software, you have to sit back and go “humm”.”
My email to the list included one link to the ifountain.org site. From there, there is a link to download the mentioned software directly, no user accounts needed. And as I mentioned above, not only that, the source code and all its revisions (subversion) are also available directly from the site without any user restrictions, as it should be for any open source project. Why all the haste to judge?
Banning someone from the list based on rules and interpretation of those rules you’ve defined yourself is bad enough. Bad mouthing someone with false information when they can no longer respond is simply wrong. I’ve emailed Jacob before I posted this to give him a chance to correct himself but have not heard back from him.