The "Open Source Bubble"07 Nov '05 - 00:07 by benr
Oh goodie, another bubble. Just when you thought we'd gotten over 'em. Read Martin LaMonica's peice on ZDnet. So, is there a bubble? Yes and no, imho.
Signs of a bubble: Some of these "open source companies" are spending like drunken sailors. SugerCRM is the one that always bugs me, actually. When I walk into LinuxWorld or other open source conf's there is a giant Gold Sponsor banner with SugerCRM's logo. Why are they wasting money on that crap? Sure sure, its a marketing things, I get that, but it seems like they ought to think up more cost efficient advertising methods than that. Perhaps its really a syntaxtual issue, is SugerCRM an "open source company" or a company thats doing their development in the open? I think there's a diffrence. MySQL is an open source company. Red Hat is an open source company. SugerCRM doesn't feel like an open source company to me. I can't really give a factual reason for it, they just feel diffrent for some reason. I'd say the same thing about other companies like SpikeSource. Its like their just trying too hard and pushing in the wrong direction. These are the companies that give me that "any day now their gonna implode... download now" feeling in my stomach.
Signs that there is no bubble: To some degree, whether there is or is not a bubble surrounding open source isn't the problem of the community... we'll just keep rocking a long reguardless. If you're crushed by falling debris its because you decided to build a paper house under a stone bridge. MySQL is gonna keep rockin', Sun is gonna keep rockin', Enlightenment, Apache, Linux, Xen are gonna keep rockin'. Maybe at a slower pace but no worries.
Building the community: This is the part that gets me. Its all about building a community quickly and getting them to work. But this is a problem, more and more. Perhaps you can call this aspect of it all a bubble... there are just too many projects and too few people, so I can see the argument that at some point a project consolidation may occur, but that doesn't change the points above. And I think that consolidation will be minimal, even if the companies behind projects blow away with the financial winds the code will be left and whatever community exists (present or future) can pick it up without them. I suppose CNet and Mr. LaMonica are more interested in the corps than the communities and so thats where the bubble bit comes in.
Reguardless, the fact is that there are so many great projects to play in that its overwhelming these days. I'm getting almost nothing done these days because I'm just keeping up with all of the projects I'm trying to play in little less actually working. Just keeping your foot in the door of 5 or 6 projects can become a full time job. Actually getting some quality work done is even harder. I'm doing this for fun, though, so while it might piss off some fellow developers its not life altering... for those who are on a pay roll, however, this could all hit closer to home. Who knows... I guess we'll see where this goes.
Holla and Happy Thanksgiving. It looks like you really had a nice time.