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The key word is "project"

The key word is "project"

Posted Oct 23, 2012 8:32 UTC (Tue) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
In reply to: The key word is "project" by abartlet
Parent article: Heilmann: Don’t call it “open source” unless you mean it

But what we value far, far, more is the open source project. These are the lifeblood of our community, because they are about community, and I see that term abused far less often.

I would not be so sure. Yes, most "cornerstone projects" of FOSS are developed in the open now, but they all started on 'invitation only' (and sometimes even 'no community input') projects. When GLibC finally become a community project? GCC? X? These are all fundamental.

In fact I'm pretty sure the opposite is true: it's very hard, basically almost impossible to jumpstart sizable project if you try to build community around it right from the start. If the project is tiny you may do that in a couple of days (irker went from the 'mere idea' to the 'community project' in a few days), but when project becomes larger this time grows (git was under Linus control for a few months till Linus deemed it "good enough" for his needs - and all ideas which Linus had no use for were rejected out of hand at this period) and when project is millions lines of code years may be needed (some huge projects like KDE were created as community projects from the start - but they explicitly used closed-source predecessor as a combination of blueprint and roadmap: KDE is called KDE because it tried to become "better CDE", after all).

Of course if you try to keep projects in 'invitation only' state when it's mature enough (== when rate of change subsides) then you either get some "true open source project" as a replacement (Linux vs *BSD), or sometimes your project is forked (already mentioned XFree86 ⇒ X). But that's at later stages of the development. How and when to correctly transition from 'invitation only' (or 'no community input') to proper 'community project' is not yet clear: both successful and unsuccessful attempts are wildly different…

Article which will serously investigate that process will be much, much, MUCH more interesting then this "we prefer open development process" rant.

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