On “open core” versus Open Source

It seems like everyone in the MySQL community has been chiming in on the so-called “open core” versus Open Source debate. It seems like at least one potential opinion has been unsaid so far, and it’s the one I share: It doesn’t matter if you’re closed source, “open core”, or Open Source, as long as you are completely honest with your customers and/or your users about which of those you are, and that you communicate any changes, particularly in a more closed direction.

I think this is the problem that MySQL (regardless of owners) have suffered in the past — they faced pressure to make money (which is fine), and they decided to used closed source approaches to do so (which is fine), and they picked some features, which they’d promised their users for a long time, to do it with (which is fine, although arguably not that nice), and they failed to communicate it well to either users or customers (which is tragic). The end result is, as could be expected, a bad taste in both users’ and customers’ (and in many cases, even employees’) mouths. In addition to this failure to communicate, they’ve also fallen over pretty terribly when others attempt to do the communication for them, as demonstrated when they made the decision (as far as I know, overturned) two years ago to offer some features only on the Enterprise side of the Community-Enterprise split. If you’re being completely honest and open with your communications to your customers and users, a post like mine should spark a “so what, we already heard that” instead of a huge storm of debate.

From my perspective, MySQL has never been “true” Open Source, as the documentation (which I helped to write a large part of as an early employee of MySQL) is not free, and never has been.

All of this is just fine, but don’t be surprised when the public is critical of you, and isn’t clamoring for the mountain tops to sing your “open source” praises.

One thought on “On “open core” versus Open Source

  1. Tweets that mention jcole’s weblog: Jeremy Cole’s take on life. » Blog Archive » On “open core” versus Open Source -- Topsy.com

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