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Marc Fleury's JBoss Blog: "Strip Mining" and "Waste Dumping" in Open Source

There's a Downside to the Strategy of IBM and BEA, Says JBoss Founder and CEO

In his latest JBoss blog at, Enterprise Open Source Conference 2006 keynoter Marc Fleury (pictured) writes: BEA and IBM are doing a good marketing job of spinning their "strategy." BEA calls it a "Blended" strategy....IBM calls it “Bluewashing.”

Marketing spin aside, the strategy is "OSS Strip Mining" which is taking open source software built by a community and "Bluewashing" or "Blending" within proprietary, closed source offerings; forking/changing the open source code as needed in the process. The community does not benefit from this, but IBM and BEA shareholders absolutely benefit.

A perfect example is IBM WebSphere Community Edition. It is based on the Apache Geronimo open source project and is "Bluewashed" whereby Geronimo is strip-mined for whatever is useful, then combined with other ingredients, etc. While the resulting product is sometimes free, it is no longer "open source" by any stretch of the imagination. This again is why competing commercial vendors prefer BSD-style licensing. It enables this “stealing” from the community, or in marketing-speak “leveraging”. At JBoss, we prefer FSF licenses, such as LGPL, that prevent the strip-mining while at the same time allowing end users and ISVs to reuse our code. Our users deserve the stability and comfort of knowing that the distribution of JBoss they are using is the same one that everyone else is running.

Another commercial software "strategy" is proprietary software "Waste Dumping". Think BEA with Beehive. This is the opposite of strip-mining in that it entails the commercial vendors "donating" some technology to open source. Eager to be part of the open source wave, the vendor identifies some technology that is inferior or of limited value to them, and they dump (oops...sorry...they "donate") it into open source. BEA is probably the worst offender here. There has been so much Waste Dumping going on lately that we may very well need an "Open Source landfill" to deal with the cleanup of all of this waste and its damage to our environment. I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen, but we like our communities clean and not taken for fools.

JBoss has always been about pure open source. We started in OSS and we will die in OSS. It rubs me the wrong way when our competitors mischaracterize us, the real developers of FOSS, for not being OSS-enough according to their view of the world. The fact that our LGPL license prevents them from strip-mining us is the real problem. Professional OSS paired with subscription services is what customers want... Not bait and switch, not “Geronimo is for the third world” as I recently heard an IBM exec say at the MIT conference.

JBoss is based on the assumption that everyone deserves “world-class” software, fully-loaded with ALL the features. Professional OSS is our livelihood and is a proven model that is driven by customer value. It also drives shareholder value IF you construct your business model properly. Shifting from a software license revenue model to a subscription revenue model is PAINFUL for big vendors like BEA and IBM who need to protect their sacred cows so Wall Street doesn't devalue them.

Don’t believe the hype and the FUD. Pure open source has no gimmicks, and the users and customers will settle the score. At JBoss, what you see is what you get and what we support.

Peace, Love and Pure Open Source.

More Stories By Marc Fleury

Marc Fleury is the chairman, president, and CEO of JBoss. He developed the first release of the open source JBoss Application Server in 1999 while working as an independent consultant and later founded Atlanta-based JBoss in 2001 to provide support services, including training, support, consulting and documentation for JBoss AS. Today, the JBoss product line has expanded beyond JBoss AS, which remains the flagship product in the JBoss Enterprise Middleware System (JEMS). Marc was previously with Sun Microsystems, where he held engineering and sales positions in the United States and France. Marc is a graduate of France's Ecole Polytechnique, where he also earned a PhD in Physics for experimental work performed as a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He holds a Master's in Theoretical Physics from the Ecole Nationale Superieure, rue d'Ulm. Marc also served as a lieutenant in the French paratroopers.

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