JBoss Community Leader Speaks Out on New Role

Q&A: Bob McWhirter, the new leader of the JBoss.org community site, tells why he joined JBoss and what his role will be.

JBoss, a division of Red Hat, has tapped Bob McWhirter, an open-source software veteran, to serve as technical leader for the JBoss.org community site. McWhirter, who founded the Codehaus open-source project repository, talked with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft about his new role.

What prompted you to join JBoss? What attracted you?

I watched JBoss over the past year shepherd Drools to an amazing product since the acquisition. While its trendy to be snarky about JBoss, theyve been awesome for my project, its developers and its community. While talking with them about the opportunity, I became convinced that they are dedicated to improving the community roots from which JBoss sprang.

What about your past experience prepares you for this role? What do you bring from Codehaus?

Ive played every role there is in open source. Ive been a consumer of open-source projects. Ive contributed patches to existing projects. Ive started projects. Where I think theres the most alignment is at the communitywide level. Not all that many people have created multiproject communities. With the Codehaus, I learned how to be a servant leader, helping projects I ultimately had no direct control over.

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What will your role at JBoss entail?

My role is ultimately multifaceted. First, Ill be working with the human interactions of our OSS [Open Source Software] communities. This includes not just the relationships between JBoss project developers and the users, but even amongst the external users and contributors. Communities have to be conversations, not publications. To facilitate that, theres definitely a strong need for tools and technologies. Ultimately, JBoss.org has to be the virtual place these conversations occur, with the tools to support that.

JBoss has taken hits for not behaving well with other open-source communities. Any thoughts on that? What will you do differently?

I think a lot of the heat came simply because JBoss was one of the first pioneers of professional open source. It seemed that making money from open source flew in the face of the prevailing dogma of the time. These days, you can see the model everywhere, and people are less offended by it. We certainly do have that history though.

The only thing we can do is move forward and demonstrably prove were good open-source citizens. Part of that includes making sure that even if you dont spend a dollar with JBoss, the projects are still beneficial to you in a pure open-source, free-software sort of way.

Will you be taking on a specific technology project at JBoss?

There are a few technologies within the JBoss.org group that we are responsible for. Ive got an awesome group of developers in Poland who are working on creating or improving our tooling for wikis, blogs, forums and such.

Ill continue to contribute to the JBoss Rules project, but thats just out of personal interest and desire.

Do you anticipate any Codehaus projects moving under the JBoss umbrella?

At the Codehaus, project autonomy is one of the leading principles.

I really cant say if any projects would be moving. Thats up to each individual project to consider for themselves. I can say that if any high-caliber project—Codehaus or otherwise—is interested in joining the JBoss family, Id be glad to do what I could to facilitate that conversation.

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