The Open Source movement may eventually dwindle..


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eyeOS proves that the open source model succeeds and fails...

saloob's picture

eyeOS was a fledgling open source project that gained a bit of steam with the community effort. Some interesting things they began to do was bridge the traditional desktop office suite applications with their AJAX-based web desktop experience - both Open Office and Microsoft Office. eyeOS was one of the first web DaaS solutions we looked at a few years ago and we got a bit of a surprise when we revisited them recently.

They had reversed their open source status and went fully commercial! Why would they do this? Here are some good reasons;

* They had leveraged the open source community enough to get their solution to a very sound level

* They had developed eyeOS using HTML5 and have embedded server-based office applications - like what runs on Ulteo and Xen App - right into the web-based desktop experience.

* They are reaching the holy grail of VDI/DaaS with their solution - complete removal of the Windows desktop (if desired), seamless integration of server-side productivity applications (MS Office, Open Office, others) and pure HTML5 web-based delivery.

eyeOS have basically built the perfect bridge version of what Google Docs aims to be in the future - but Google's model will be a fully web-baed (HTML5+) office suite - not running Microsoft Office on a server using Ulteo or Xen Apps.

Why do we say it both succeeds and fails?

Obviously the eyeOS guys succeeded in obtaining the community's honest, free support to test and develop the application until it became what it is today - a very compelling solution. Most people in the community did not expect or imagine that the "owners" would convert it to a fully commercialised model.

It failed in the one sense that an open source project is expected to stay open and the code to be shared, used and available to the community without restrictions - and eyeOS basically ripped the guts out of this concept and threw it back with a strong message that says, "don't be foolish - this is about money, always was, always will be, but thanks for your help!"

It is true there are a couple different variations of the "open source contract" being used by the various projects out there - some appear to really hold them to their open source nature, but who can ever be sure??

It is a sad strike for open source that eyeOS has done this, but not an unexpected shift - and you should expect to see more. Nonetheless, we liked what they did initially and really like what we see it has become. If their scrambling Partners are anything of an indication, it is pretty clear eyeOS are onto something that could have a massive impact - if users can get used to a fully web-based desktop experience. Time will tell and we will see if enough C-level guys in Enterprise get a proper understanding of what value it may bring to the table...

Developers - beware of Open Source scams...

saloob's picture

Developers - beware of Open Source scams - you may be forfeiting your rights, time and good intentions on some sneaky, greedy people misrepresenting their project as Open Source.

Some of you may have read about SugarCRM's decision to discontinue their support and development of the "community" version and will now only further develop the commercial version.

See the announcement from the founder, Clint Oram:

Here is the founder's profile:

Also on LinkedIn:

Keep an eye out for this guy - he is going to be notorious...

Some key take-aways from this - and questions you should ask or know before committing your time and effort to an "open source" project are:

1) Is there a base code-set that is owned by a company before the code and project was released to the open source community?

2) If the answer to (1) is yes, who owns the base code?

3) If contributions are made by the open source community, are the copyrights and patents subsequently developed assigned to the company in (1)?

In the case of SugarCRM, there is a bit of a trail to follow to get to their "contributors" section and when you find yourself there - get this - you have to PRINT out the form and snail mail it to them to get certain rights to "your contributions".

Check it out how to contribute here:

Now, check out the "Contributor Agreement" here;

I wonder how many people actually did send such a document by snail mail?

In any case, even if one was to sign and send this, it only gives them certain rights to the "contributions they made". Now, can you imagine being able to use just one part of a piece of a platform like CRM outside of the platform itself, anyway? And if you read the agreement, any contributions made are owned and all rights held by the company who will license BACK to you the parts you have contributed! Thanks guys - very kind of you..

So, simply put, SugarCRM Inc.(the company) started with a piece of base code they say they owned, then opened the code up and leveraged the open source community to build out "contributions" back to the company - until it was solid enough to fully commercialise. Then, they turn their back on the community in an instant and say they are not continuing with the community version.

Furthermore, the code that is used in their "commercial" version - that was based on the contributions will not be made available to the community - which really goes against the whole concept of Open Source.

They might be able to rescue some of their credibility by allowing the true Open Source community create their own fork of the final community version - without any trickery - but that would probably create too healthy competition.

So, if it is not clear, you should ask the questions above. And, if it still smells, it is probably not a safe bet.

See how they set up the scam in the early years:

If you still want to contribute, then I suggest you build a mini module of some handy functionality that integrates via their API - or simply find a project that is true to the Open Source community.

We found this company, - to which we posed the above questions and await a response.

Here is something interesting - - who have this as a key point in their component line-up:

Vtiger's modifications to the SugarCRM code are under Vtiger Public License 1.1. Additional components written by Vtiger, not coming under the purview of the SPL, are provided under the Mozilla Public License.

They reference one version of SugarCRM - but we don't know exactly what components or what exactly was used;

They have a clause in their agreement that refers to their "Original Code" - which may also be setting them up to do the same as SugarCRM did:

* ''Original Code'' means Source Code of computer software code which is described in the Source Code notice required by Exhibit A as Original Code, and which, at the time of its release under this License is not already Covered Code governed by this License.

See it here:

Anyway, we hope this gives you a flavour of the risks involved and things to watch out for when you wish to contribute to a true Open Source community.