An open-source web moocher comes clean

Backcountry.com has proved itself a savvy citizen of the open-source community.

Backcountry.com has been using open source for years. Last week, it finally gave something back. Unlike other web properties that have built their businesses on open source but acknowledge little need to contribute back, Backcountry.com has also given little back...but at least takes no pride in it. In fact, its press release announcing the code contribution is hilariously self-flagellating:

After mooching off the open source world for 10 years and making millions, Backcountry.com finally threw the Postgres community a bone in the form of a database synching tool curiously called Bucardo....

Designed and named (apparently after an extinct, wiry mountain goat) specifically for Backcountry.com by End Point Corporation, Bucardo allows seamless real-time synching of multiple databases. If millions of users are hitting the same database at once, it slows down the process. Because Bucardo synchs both multi-master and master-slave databases, Postgres users can now spread hits and optimize traffic and bandwidth. Basically this means smooth, easy surfing with minimal latency. It?s all about efficiency and speed.

When asked why this is remotely interesting, End Point developer Greg Sabino Mullane said, "I'll be honest with you: this isn't earth shattering. Oracle can do it, and you can kind of do it with MySQL. But while there are plenty of Postgres replication systems out there, this is the first that lets you synch multi-masters in real time. So yeah, when you look specifically at Postgres, this is a pretty big deal."

Candor, thy name is Backcountry.com!

So, it's not an earth-shattering code contribution, but it reflects something that many of us have been saying for some time: "Web 2.0" companies who think they're above the open-source law are, and their contributions just might not be useful to 99.99999% of the code-consuming public. But for that 0.00001% that does care about such things, it's manna from heaven.

In fact, Backcountry.com's CEO says just this: "It's not for everyone, but it's revolutionary for people who are really into this stuff."

Exactly.

As more of the world moves to the web, this "revolutionary for people who are really into this stuff" principle will come to matter more and more, because more and more people will be "into this stuff." Now we just need to develop open-source licenses that encourage candid laggards like Backcountry.com to contribute back the great code they borrow and modify.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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