Last night my wife and I had "the bad boy of open source," Marc Fleury, over for dinner. He was in town for the Open Source Goat Rodeo (to be blogged (and YouTube'd) separately later today). I was fortunate to get his time over dinner.
I've known Marc for a few years, but not as well as I would have liked. I didn't really get to know him until after JBoss was acquired and he became somewhat less involved in the industry, taking a well-deserved break.
He may have once been a "bad boy," and he might still be such in his spare time, but over dinner and with my kids he was great. You can see him here overseeing the education of my kids: More math and science, less of the Asay staple of literature. :-)
I made a "Black and Blue Pie" for Marc, which means blackberry and blueberry (with a hint of lemon to give it a kick). I even "stenciled" it with Marc's initials to welcome to the Asay abode.
Before and after dinner, Marc and I talked through the history of JBoss. Marc was way before his time on open source. Yes, we had Linux since 1994, but in 1997/1998 when Marc started working on JBoss virtually no one had done anything around open source in Java. Really, very little had been done on commercial open source at all.
Marc was a pioneer. It says something of who he is that he didn't care. He did it anyway.
Today everyone in the open-source software industry benefits from Marc's decision to go it alone. Between Red Hat and JBoss, the industry owes a huge debt of gratitude. Red Hat, for giving us an exceptional business model that proves money can be made in open source, and lots of it. And JBoss, for teaching us that open source applies to much more than an operating system.
Marc didn't get along with Red Hat, which is unfortunate. I think he's sincere when he says (as he told me last night) that he really wishes it could have worked. Even so, he made his mark and gave Red Hat an asset that it can put to good use.
In the meantime, Marc is busy again with a range of projects. eWeek named him one of the top-15 people in open source, which may seem like praise that came a bit too late. If anything, though, it's prophetic. We haven't seen the last of Marc Fleury.