Maybe I should just let it go, but I’m still taken aback with the RedHat/JBoss email that the previous posting is about. Yesterday Red Hat, not unexpectedly, announced a stack with various JBoss and Red Hat products. So, to my earlier question, what about JBoss customers who are using a non-RHEL OS, say, SLES?

Considering that Novell was such a strong proponent of JBoss in the past, and now that Novell has clearly changed horses to Apache Geronimo, you have to feel for these customers. JBoss is licensed under the LGPL, and they’ll tell you that it’s an open community, so hey, you’ll never have to walk alone for support. But here is the real test of open source. Can a current JBoss customer using an operating system other than Red Hat go to any other credible party for JBoss support? Okay, what about HP or Unisys you say? Well, they don’t do level 3 support for JBoss products, they pass these types of issues to JBoss. Neither really has the deep experience with JBoss products to be a viable alternative to getting support for JBoss products (moreover they aren’t alternatives, but rather, the same support sold through a different channel).

Now, if this were a true open source community, and vendors from different corporations participated in the community, much like what happens in the Linux community, the customer would have a choice of vendor to purchase support from.

An open community equals choice; it does not necessarily equal open source. Java is a good example with an open community, resulting in choice of application servers (Apache, BEA, IBM, JBoss, Oracle, Sun), most of which are not open source products. But in the long run, an open source product must have an open community. Without an open community, the ‘community’-controlling vendor has spread the product to a large user base, most of whom won’t be in a position to support the product themselves should the ‘community’-controlling vendor decide to do something (like get acquired) that makes the user base reconsider their support situation. Did someone say captive audience? A community cannot be acquired, a company can.


Got Community? Get some.