FOSS Week in Review
Flamethrowers and a kumbaya that will probably never happen: Yep, that’s the kind of week it was this week in the land of free/open source software.
Wearing your fireproof underwear? KDE’s Aaron Seigo – never one to shy away from saying what he thinks – lit into community managers in a Google+ post on Monday, calling the community manager role in free/open source software projects “a fraud and a farce.”
“Communities (real ones) have facilitators and leaders of various forms and stripes,” Seigo writes. “It’s OK if they get paid so they are able to spend the time and energy facilitating and leading, but they damn sure are not ‘managers of the community.’ They are accountable to the community, selected by the community, derive their influence from community consensus and can be replaced by the community at the community’s behest.
“Does that sound much like the free software ‘community managers’ you know?”
Well, since you asked, Aaron, it actually does sound like some “community managers” I know, but I define them not as bosses giving orders or “rock stars” to be adored. Maybe “community manager” is a bad term, but I define them as those who facilitate the process in making community-produced software and helping raise the bar of the project through inspiring a committed and focused community.
Admittedly, leadership of this kind is rare in many FOSS projects, but it does exist in others.
The post is worth a read, not only for the points Aaron makes — many of them right on the money — but also for the comments, which are both thought provoking and entertaining.
Merger? Not likely: Recently the head of IT at Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court told the LibreOffice conference that OpenOffice and LibreOffice should throw off their differences and unite — a digital “kumbaya” that will create a force to be reckoned with by proprietary office suites.
Daniel Brunner, the Swiss Supreme Court’s top IT guy, is welcome to dream.
Joinup, a site reporting on interoperability solutions for public administrators, featured an article about Brunner’s comments. Drawing on the experience that Brunner’s office has using OO.o on 460 computers in the Supreme Court’s offices in Bern.
In the article, Brunner does point out a couple of advantages and disadvantages to both OO.o and LO, and his experience with both, though he uses one professionally, is one where his opinions on the matter are valid.
But perhaps he is missing the wider picture.
What wider picture? Putting aside for a moment the differences in the licenses, a merger would not be good for either entity now that the fork has taken each on a different path. Clearly LibreOffice and the public using it has nothing to gain by any sort of merger, and the suits at IBM and Oracle would prefer not to have a merger since their goal for quite some time has been to allow the inclusion of proprietary modules into OO.o and offering it as a value-add to their stacks.
So that’s where we stand: A nice pipe dream, but the reality is that they are now too far apart, philosopically, to become one unit. Interestly enough, that’s OK, too — with the maturity of both projects, especially that of LO, there may not be a need to join forces.
One more thing: Matt Hartley nails it on Chrome vs. Linux in his Datamation column on Tuesday. Matt points out the similarities and differences in both and makes some poignant arguments regarding why either — and both — should be focused on different markets, though they could bump heads in the desktop market, and how both are horrid at marketing, though ChromeOS has the benefit of Google marketing money — metric tons of it. He also draws a very interesting conclusion.
It’s a good read, and if your weekend is anything like mine, it will involve a lot of reading.