[SEE Update at the end of this post}

Computer Business Review Online is reporting that Red Hat CFO announced that Red Hat is working on a plan to create a Fedora-style community development version of JBoss as well as a subscription-only RHEL-style package.

A change in the package model is part of the company’s plans to convert the 11 million free JBoss users to subscription customers, Peters added. “We have an installed user base today that are natural customers when they get to the point of needing to have better support,” he said.

I take issue with two things in the above text. First, 11 million JBoss users, ROTFL. Second, if Red Hat is truly looking out for your customer and partner base, then there is no need for a Fedora & RHEL style development & sales model for JBoss. This move is really bad for any ISV/SI that uses JBoss without support and was foreseeable over a month ago when Red Hat changed the JBoss EULA. I’ll deal with that in a second post, but first:

ummm, note to Red Hat CFO Mr. Peters, I’ve downloaded Firefox at least 15 times in the last year (different computers, reinstalls, upgrades, fixes, etc). Just imagine how many times I will have downloaded Firefox in 6 years. That does not make me 15 users. Because if it does, then man could I get a lot more done in a day!

So believing that your user base is 11 million is definitely new-math (and since you’re CFO, I’d suggest you be a little careful with new-math). You could argue that there have been 11 million downloads of JBoss packages over the past nearly 6 year, but that does not equal users. Every one of your users would have downloaded at least 20-40s of times over the past nearly 6 years. And they would likely have downloaded/used other application servers at the same time.

Also, Sourceforge stats show that there have only been 8.6 million downloads for all JBoss packages on Sourceforge since JBoss packages were available on Sourceforge in 2001. So that means every single version, release and modification binary package, the associated source packages and MD5 files would be considered a separate download inside of that 8.6 million figure (aka “a customer” using new-math). I’d bet a dinner that the number of actual JBoss users is at least two orders of magnitude less than the download figure.

Anywho, good luck trying to force your actual user base, specifically the ISV/SI base into buying support. And here I was thinking that JBoss & Red Hat were in the business of giving your user/partner base choice. Well, lucky for them that Apache Geronimo, WAS CE, or JonAS (amongst others) are more than viable alternatives. And since most of your “customers” are really only using the Servlet functionality provided by Tomcat, they’ll be happy to know that Tomcat is also inside of, and supported within, Geronimo & WAS CE, so they can rest assured that there is a future-proof migration path when your sales colleagues come knocking.

Thanks for once again reminding your users and partners that using Tomcat, Apache Geronimo and WAS CE are much better alternatives if they actually value choice, flexibility, freedom and an open community.

PS: I’m going to see if I can get Geronimo and WAS CE download figures to compare with what we can see on Sourceforge for JBoss.

[UPDATE 2006-11-20]: A comment on this post points out that the “11 million users” quote was a mistake on the part of Computer Business Review Online. The article now states “11 million downloads”, which is much better.  Not sure where Red Hat gets 11 million from, the Sourceforge data shows less than that, but maybe Red Hat is counting another source also?