Simon (Chief OSS Officer at Sun) talks about Sun’s $1 million dollar grant to Sun controlled FOSS communities.

Net/net: Sun will take $1M and divide it amongst six Sun owned/controlled FOSS communities. The communities will propose how to use the cash to award contributors. Sun will approve these proposals with modifications as required. The program seeks to reward innovation.

Simon states:

“Sun will be announcing a multi-year award program in support of fostering innovation and advancing open source within our open source communities.

….

This year’s participants include OpenSolaris, GlassFish, OpenJDK, OpenSPARC, NetBeans, and OpenOffice.org.”

Yes, the 6 OSS communities are Sun owned/controlled projects. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Sun is a business, and it’s their legal duty to improve returns for shareholders.

I’m not sure why a vendor would have to pay OSS developers to contribute to a project if (A) doing so is not already part of their day job, or (B) the developers isn’t getting more benefit out of the project than they are inputting. I’m all for hiring the top contributors to a given project if they aren’t already paid to work on the project.

This seems awfully like an attempt to use cash to drive interest around projects that may need more interest. Does anyone remember Red Hat/JBoss, MySQL, or other leading OSS vendors doing something similar? I can’t, but I don’t know/remember everything.

The only obvious point, as highlighted by the announcement in Bangalore, is that this cash could help attract developers from emerging countries into Sun controlled OSS projects. But the following statement from Simon suggests that the awards will go to current community members.

“We are wanting to recognise and reward innovation, which we fully expect to come mainly from existing community members including the many already employed to work on software (though not Sun employees since Sun is the sponsor of the awards). It’s about sharing the wealth.”

Maybe I’m over thinking things and it’s “just about sharing the wealth”. Stranger things have happened :-)