August 22, 2005 11:28 AM PDT

Open-source Mambo project faces rift

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foundation and let programmers decide whether to join. "We felt once the project was adequately protected, we could involve the core team and let them decide if they were truly interested in the Mambo project, or simply controlling the license," Phoon said.

To decide their next step, the developers are working with the Software Freedom Law Center, an organization that employs Eben Moglen, a Columbia law professor and legal counsel for the Free Software Foundation. Moglen declined to comment on the situation.

Now each side argues that the other faces the decision to fork away from the core project.

"Whether the OpenSourceMatters team forks the code, or anyone else forks the code will be up to them," Phoon said. "If they are successful in meeting the demands of their users, then another great project is in the market. If they do not, they will be like thousands of other projects that get started and abandoned."

But Emir Sakic, one of the Mambo developers, argues the momentum is behind his group. "All members of the core development team, the translation teams and documentation teams as well as most--if not all-- the third-party developers and major players are on the new site," he said in an e-mail interview. "This is not a question of fork, it is rather continuing the project under another name."

Reconcilable differences
Not all open-source software forks become permanent. One case involves the GNU Compiler Collection, or GCC, the crucial programming tools that are used to produce nearly every open-source software package.

GCC was run by the Free Software Foundation--the group founded by Richard Stallman to create the Gnu's Not Unix (GNU) operating system. But in 1997, a company called Cygnus Solutions that commercialized GCC, along with several allies, wanted to take GCC in new technical directions.

"We were extremely sensitive to the potential negatives of forking GCC," said Cygnus founder and now Red Hat employee Michael Tiemann. "At the same time, Cygnus had reached a point due to our work on GCC that we were beginning to feel hamstrung by the GCC maintainer. We needed to do things in GCC that had never been contemplated when the original GCC was designed."

The Cygnus allies were cautious. They tried not to antagonize the FSF, they established a governing committee to run the project, and they deliberately named it the Experimental GNU Compiler System to avoid the perception they were hijacking GCC itself. By 1999, after the EGCS approach had proved itself, the Free Software Foundation joined forces.

"This fork was more done for technical reasons than for personal or political reasons, and it proved far easier to heal," Tiemann said.

But there are many cases in which forks haven't reunited. The open-source BSD operating system, which stemmed from work on Unix at the University of California, Berkeley, has branched into FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD.

Other cases are up in the air. The Debian version of Linux has become the foundation for several other versions, and many of the allies are now trying to regroup through an effort called the Debian Common Core.

In the case of Mambo, a fork still isn't certain. Miro, for one, is holding out hope.

The core Mambo developers presented their opposition Wednesday "before many of them knew the facts behind the foundation," Phoon said. "Who knows what will happen when they read the actual foundation documents and realize that a lot of the fears they have been talking about were unfounded."

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Miro and Open Source
"We put Mambo on Source Forge in order for people to help get the code 'straightened out' so that it could be re-released commercially."

This, taken directly from archives of the Mambo web site, seems to be the continuing motivation for Miro in regards to the Mambo project.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wishful Thinking
""If people don't agree with the way a project is going, they have the ability to strike off and produce something on their own. It really is a Darwinian environment, where the best products will succeed," IDC analyst Al Gillen said. "

Not really. It can mean a division of effort in an energy-impoverished ecosystem such that weaker competitors eventually win. The web is not Darwinian (that's too simplistic) and code is not an evolving organism (self-directed). He is confusing community and product.

A code fork is bad. A community fork can be worse depending on the size of the available and willing labor pool. The web is not an inexhaustible source of labor although it is replenishable.
Posted by Len Bullard (454 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Same award winning product
This is not a fork. This is the same award winning product. Same award winning development team. Same community. If anyone will be forking the product it will be Miro's shadow foundation.
Posted by osm56 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Miro corporate spin of course
This is just more corporate spin from Miro. The truth of the matter is the developers are not the only people who left Miro. When the developers broke ranks with Miro, they took the project and the community with them.

The Mambo development team did not resign from the project. They simply moved the project to a different server. The project remains on track. The Mambo community has followed suit. Now, the project, it's award winning development team, and the active community are busy setting up temporary quarters at

Soon Mambo will have a new name and a new permanent home devoid of corporate greed. And Miro's shadow foundation and *ambo web sites will soon be nothing more than an empty shell.

These are indeed exciting times. Something wonderful is about to happen. Stay tuned.
Posted by osm56 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: spin
Meanwhile the development team announced they'll be starting up a foundation of their own to fill their pockets.
They're nothing more than a bunch of hypocritic power-starved children.
Posted by Jan Modaal (40 comments )
Link Flag
This is a strength of Open Source
In a closed system with a closed code base if the developers or community disagree with the management then the customers that bought the code are screwed. It takes time to get a new dev team up to speed and to maintain quality. The company may even go out of business with out continued development and support of the core dev team.

With open source when there is a disagreement then the code can be forked and both parties can continue to develop it. While it may make for uncertain times for the customers while they decide which fork to chose they will still have a choice. In fact they have the choice to follow the forks or even take the code and hire their own programmers to maintain their investment.

Forks are not always bad, they can be painful and they can lead to uncertain times but they give the consumer/customer that is actually using the code the greatest opurtunity for success in the long run.

BTW, I use Mambo on several sites. Good luck guys!
Posted by albrown (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
One thing about open source...
... is that you have a group of people developing products like toothpaste. Once the product is "perfect", the product can be repackaged, labeled and rebranded not necessarily by the same group of people who developed it. Many brands may become available but they're all toothpastes to the core.

I don't think there should be a fork. There should be an agreement of the core version with which the two groups may use as base for their respective brands.

There should, therefore, be a committee or body concerned in making sure that the core is maintained and managed... if I am seeing it right, I think this is just like how Linux is doing it.
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
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Developers Acted Hasitly
The Development Team had no right to unilaterally decide to derail an entire community with their decision to abandon the Foundation. They have acted in a childish manner, instead of restraining their youthful enthusiasm and trying to work together with Miro for a result that would best benefit the community. This sets back the commercial development of Mambo in a big way and hurts all commercial developers who have invested in the system.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A smoother track
"The Development Team had no right to unilaterally decide to derail an entire community with their decision to abandon the Foundation."

The team had every right to do what they did, and did so because they felt it was in the best interest of the community and the team. Their decision has not derailed the community, it's simply moved it to a smoother track.

"They have acted in a childish manner, instead of restraining their youthful enthusiasm and trying to work together with Miro for a result that would best benefit the community."

Outside of providing infrastructure support for the project, Miro has (in my opinion) done little or nothing for this project. Removing Miro, the overbearing parent of a child they abandoned in hopes it would grow up stronger if raised by others, will have little or no negative effect on the project.

"This sets back the commercial development of Mambo in a big way and hurts all commercial developers who have invested in the system."

I don't think commercial development is the primary goal of the project, just a welcomed side-effect.

The bottom line is that the developers listened to the community, they provided the talent and time to create what the community wanted, and they'll continue to develop a successful, award winning, project - without the dead-weight of Miro to drag along for the ride.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
How can you chastize the development team for "abandoning" something they were never a part of?

The only "invitation" they got to be a part of the "Foundation" came with hefty price tags - that's not something you do to a group of people who FREELY gave their time to the development of this project.

To assume they abandoned the foundation (which again I state they were not welcomed to be a part of without paying fees) and derailed the project is not only incorrect, it's ignorant of the facts behind this story.
Posted by (1 comment )
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