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Integration Watch: The myth of open-source forking

Oct 04, 2010, 15:02 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Andrew Binstock)

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" Forking is frequently touted as one of the principal benefits of using open source. The reality, however, is that this benefit is primarily an abstraction. Projects of any substantial size are extremely difficult to fork, and successful forks not backed by serious dollar investments are very, very rare. The reason for the difficulty lies at the heart of another open-source myth, namely of the midnight engineer generously donating his or her time to a project that interests him or her. Those people certainly exist, but they are rarely the principal developers of a large project. I discussed this phenomenon in my column, "The Changing Face of Open Source."

"Core developers of large projects are almost always paid developers. This is true for Eclipse, JBoss, Red Hat, most Google projects and, notably, OpenSolaris, among many others. These developers are either employees of companies that have a commercial interest in the finished product, or that derive revenue from ongoing support of the product. These developers, then, don't have any reason to join a fork. In fact, they have strong reasons not to."

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