Red Hat's Project Spacewalk could make it the hub in the open-source wheel

Red Hat's Project Spacewalk is notable for its promise, but also for its lack of evangelism to live up to that promise.

Back in early 2007 Red Hat let slip that it was planning to release its Red Hat Network code as an open-source project. In June of 2008, Red Hat officially announced that Red Hat Network Satellite would be open sourced.

Last week, Red Hat posted an update on the project, now called Project Spacewalk.

In the nine weeks or so since the debut of Spacewalk, we've been blown away by the level of interest, the contributions, and the excitement generated by the project...

  • : currently has over 250 members...
  • currently has about 120 members...
  • The first patch from inside Red Hat came within three days of the opening of the mailing list.
  • The first patch from the community came within eight days.

I've suggested before that the company that owns the heart of open-source monetization would be sitting on a massive opportunity. Yes, there are alternative ways to monetize open source (e.g., Google's advertising model), but for many years to come vendors will make money by distributing software, not merely advertising around that software.

As such, a community effort around a network service, such as Red Hat's Project Spacewalk, is hugely important. It's important because it provides Red Hat a way to corral the growing commercial open-source ecosystem.

To achieve this more effectively, however, Red Hat needs to reach out to the commercial open-source ecosystem and evangelize the benefits of building on Project Spacewalk, rather than creating silo'd "Red Hat Network-esque" offerings. To date, Red Hat seems to have taken an "If we build it, they might come" approach to Spacewalk. It needs to be a bit more proactive.

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