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By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-08-23 Print this article Print

Now, lets switch gears and look at the battle over control of the popular Mambo CMS (content management system) between developers and Miro, the company that first open-sourced Mambos code under the GPL. Here, the original owners, when you get down to it, want to regain control of the project. The developers, realizing that they were being cut out of executive management, decided to take the code and run.
Some people might look at this and say, "See? This is how open source causes project forking."
No, not really. The best code survives. Open source is all about the Darwinism survival of the fittest program. Since Miro no longer has the developers, it and Mambo will die off. The rebels, since theyre the coders, will continue to develop whatever they end up calling their version of Mambo. Their concerns, once the immediate fuss with Miro is over, will be other open-source CMSes like PHP-Fusion and Drupal, not Miro. I strongly suspect thats why Sun didnt go the GPL route. As Miro is now learning, if you go GPL, or many of the other popular open-source licenses, you lose control of your code. Its that simple. Now, thats fine … if youre the best of the best. Is someone going to fork Linux away from Linus Torvalds? I dont think so! So, Sun, realizing that control in "pure" open source resides with whoever are the consistently best programmers, decided to create its CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License). Personally, I have problems with the CDDL because of those issues. That said, Sun will never face a Miro-style problem with OpenSolaris programmers. Now, I think theyll have other troubles—getting a significant programming community on board to work pro bono for Sun—but Sun does keep what it wanted: control. And, if that makes it sound an awful lot like how traditional business works, well, in the immortal words of The Whos Pete Townshend, Ill tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then Ill get on my knees and pray
We dont get fooled again
Dont get fooled again
No, no! Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. He can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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