Apache co-founder quits Sun over its alleged culture of control

Sun can't seem to get a break these days.

Over the years, Sun has been progressively pushed by the open-source community to open up. OpenOffice, Java, etc.: the company's efforts to embrace open source have never been quite enough for some.

For Valentine's Day this year, Sun received another arrow, this time from Roy Fielding, co-founder of the Apache HTTP Server Project, who quit Sun to protest its alleged inability to relax its control over OpenSolaris and truly forge a community around it. As Fielding notes:

Sun didn't just make vague statements to me about OpenSolaris; they made promises about it being an open development project. That's the only way they could get someone like me to provide free labor for their benefit.

Sun agreed that 'OpenSolaris' would be governed by the community and yet has refused, in every step along the way, to cede any real control over the software produced or the way it is produced, and continues to make private decisions every day that are later promoted as decisions for this thing we call OpenSolaris.

As Stephen O'Grady notes, this isn't a huge blow to Sun's OpenSolaris project, because Fielding doesn't have the same role within it as Linus Torvalds does with Linux. Still, it's yet another voice suggesting that Sun has much to learn about community, something on which its friends and critics alike seem to agree.

This is all the more troubling because Sun seems to want to embrace development communities. There may be a disconnect between "want" and "need," or between executive desire and company culture. I don't know.

One thing is clear: Sun needs to figure this out sooner rather than later. Perhaps letting the MySQL team run amok would help.

Tech Culture
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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