A blog for the enterprise open source community
The vocabulary of open source development modelsMatthew Aslett, June 26, 2008 @ 6:12 am ET
James Dixon has given the thumbs-up to my stretching his Bee Keeper analogy to explain open source development models (which is nice) and in doing so has suggested a new term to help quickly explain the difference between vendor- and community- dominated development projects.
The debate about the difference between the two approaches, and the language used to describe them, has been simmering for some time. For some background on it, and an explanation about why it matters, see Ted Ts’o's post from April.
While the debate may seem like a matter of semantics I agree with Ted that it is important in terms of framing a user’s expectation and understanding of an open source project/product and its potential relationship with the vendor.
This is not to say that one approach is better than the other, but that for some adopters (both corporates and individuals) it is important to know that MySQL is the majority contributer to the development of its database and has the rights that go along with that, while other adopters may be more comforted in knowing that PostgreSQL has a broad and vibrant community.
My perspective is that it is important for (some) customers to be able to understand the distinction, and for that an agreed vocabulary is essential. For an example of why vocabulary is important, consider the role of Cathedral and the Bazaar in providing the industry a vocabulary with which to explain open versus closed development models.
It has occurred to me recently that open source is missing an agreed vocabulary for discussing both development and business models (I’ll leave the business models for another time). The problem, of course, is coming to an agreement.
In his initial post on the subject Ted used the terminology “organic” and “non-organic”, which does work, although as he discovered, some found the term non-organic a little pejorative.
While that terminology is probably more accurate it too has some potentially negative connotations. I personally have used the phrases “captive” and “community”, of which the former has obvious negative connotations as far as vendor-led projects are concerned.
In his post referenced above based on my stretching of the Bee Keeper analogy, James Dixon suggests “wild” versus “domestic” could potentially be considered derogatory as far as the community-led approach is concerned. Meanwhile, Ted’s request for suggestions generated a number of possibilities.
Here’s a list of the potential candidates I’ve identified. Take your pick, or feel free to suggest any others:
Comments (8) Categories: Business strategies,Software