Is Eclipse an Open-Source Community or Trade Association?

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-12-03 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Is the Eclipse Foundation a true open-source community or simply a trade association? That's the issue a former Eclipse Foundation bigwig raised recently before being slapped down by Eclipse Foundation Executive Director Mike Milinkovich.

Is the Eclipse Foundation a true open-source community or simply a trade association?

That's the issue a former Eclipse Foundation bigwig raised recently before being slapped down by Eclipse Foundation Executive Director Mike Milinkovich.

In a post titled, "It's a Trade Association," Bjorn Freeman-Benson, former Eclipse Foundation committer community director and mainstay at industry events representing the foundation, criticized the foundation for not doing enough to "provide the leadership and resources to maintain the core" Eclipse technology.

Said Freeman-Benson:

"So it looks like I've been wrong all along: I've been believing and promoting that the Eclipse Foundation is a new combination of open source and commercial interests. But I've recently been forced to conclude that I was wrong and that the Foundation is just an industry trade association."

Further, Freeman-Benson said it is "OK that the Foundation is an industry trade association, but it means that the open source side of Eclipse must stop wishing for the Foundation to solve the Tragedy of the Commons and must find a way to do it ourselves. The Foundation can continue to provide benefits to the corporate members, that's fine-I've always been pro-profit."

There is an element of truth at the core of Freeman-Benson's argument in that the foundation's actions do in many ways reflect those of a trade association. But, then, it is what it is. The foundation is a clear example of what JBoss founder Marc Fleury used to call "professional open source" at work-where profit-seeking companies apply open-source technology to making money. Gotta make that money. This is a capitalistic society after all.

But then Freeman-Benson oversteps a bit in challenging the Eclipse Foundation "leadership." Said Freeman-Benson:

"But if the Foundation is not going to provide the leadership and resources to maintain the core, how can we do it ourselves? What are the mechanisms and rewards we need to put in place? One thing that a number of people have concluded is that we need a repository that is not constrained by the IP process. That should be easy to do (google code or github). What else?"

That prompted a strong and swift response from Milinkovich in a post that lights Freeman-Benson up. Milinkovich, who at one time viewed Freeman-Benson as a valued ally, apparently now views him as a "steady acid drip of negativity" that should just "go away." Said Milinkovich in his post:

"Your former colleagues at the Eclipse Foundation have tolerated your public abuse quietly because we are professionals, and we honestly thought that you would tire of it. Apparently we were wrong. But the time has come to say it: You are a jerk. Please go away. You quit the Foundation, you have zero commits since April, and we tire of your sniping from afar.

"It is no secret that the Eclipse Foundation is a 501(c) 6 and is supported financially by members. But to say that the Foundation does not care deeply about the open source community is a pure fabrication. It attacks the personal and professional reputations of all of us who work hard at the Foundation for the entire community."

Meanwhile, commenting in response to Freeman-Benson's post, Doug Schaefer, project lead on the Eclipse CDT Project and a Wind River software engineer, said, "There are already a number of projects out there that aren't at Eclipse.org due to the IP process and the non-open culture. It indeed would be interesting to fork the rest of it. Throw it in git and have the Eclipse members bring in what they consider safe as they need it."



 
 
 
 
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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