How Do You Define a 'Sick' Open Source Community?

Lora Bentley

When Sun Microsystems has restructured much of its business around open source, its leaders probably don't want to hear that one of the projects it sponsors,, is "profoundly sick" and "a dying horse." But that's exactly what contributor Michael Meeks has said.


ZDNet Asia points to an October blog post in which Meeks suggests Sun's stringent control of the project is strangling the community and discouraging developers from participating. He also calls for Sun to give up some of that control for the good of the project.


It isn't the first time Sun has been criticized for its management of an open source project. However, other industry observers who spoke to ZDNet Asia don't necessarily agree, according to writer Eileen Yu:

David Mitchell, senior vice president of IT research at Ovum, disagreed that a lack of community contribution should be interpreted negatively, noting that the success of open source products depends on user adoption, not developer profile. "Projects will have entirely different developer commit patterns, depending on their maturity. Mature projects are potentially always going to have less new code commits than fledgling ones," Mitchell explained.

Moreover, Mitchell also noted that the community could suffer if Sun followed Meeks' advice and distanced itself from the project.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 12, 2009 6:33 AM masomano masomano  says:
Meeks is hardly an objective commentator on Sun and, as he is one of the leaders of a 'fork' (rival) product called 'go-oo'. Meeks' employer is Novell, who work closely with Microsoft. So who has most to gain from bad-mouthing and hoping that Sun pulls out? Reply
Jan 13, 2009 8:19 AM Maurizio T Maurizio T  says:
While I don't know much about the Openoffice community, I have very good experiences with other opensource Sun's communities, for example I can say the OpenESB community ( is working very well so far and driving a lot of value into improving the end product at an impressive speed, with direct positive collaboration with Sun engineers, so statements shouldn't be that generic. A totally different problem will be how much money Sun will be able to get out of it, but this is really a distinct issue from the public community itself and only time will tell.Sun is trying to follow a unique path, quite different from other vendors and IMHO extremely open. Maybe the Openoffice project is suffering from a very specific disease which I am not aware of.Kind regards Reply

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