Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is the price of a bug?

Can a company pay people to discover bugs in their systems? This already exist for security issues where experts about security find security issues in browsers, OS or any other kind of programs but they won't freely give away their discovery as they spent a hard time on it. I think this is correct as the company will benefit from this.

As we are close to tag as final a major release of our Object Database (NeoDatis ODB), we would like to be able to do that : pay people to help us find bugs in our database engine.
Obviously we don't rely on this to guarantee the quality of the release: we strongly use unit tests. We currently have more that 700 junits.

So we decided to create a 'NeoDatis Zero Bug Campaign' in which we will pay 10$ for the first 10 bugs found on the current java release: 1.9 RC4.

read http://www.neodatis.org/1-9-zero-bug-campaign for more information!

Friday, March 6, 2009

NeoDatis, Google & Db4O

Last week I got an email from a Neodatis user, he was concerned and asked me if DB4O had acquired NeoDatis, because he was googling the NeoDatis name(a fast way to reach the NeoDatis site) and suddenly he came across with a DB40 link on the sponsored area. In a first glance I didn't believe it,
so I decided to try it by myself. Guess what appeared in the sponsored link area ? Db4O.

First thought: There is a bug in google adword display algorithm, as the keywords must be the same they displayed Db4O ad instead on NeoDatis.

But looking better at the ad (below) you can see that the title of the ad is NeoDatis but the link is to the Db4O site! For me it was weird, to see as an open source(as they claim to be) project like Db4O
use these kind of stategy to fool the community. Even they consider NeoDatis ODB as a real threat, I just want to develop ODB, and I never though to use an ad strategy like that before.

(Updated: 03/07/2009 : It seems Db4o deactivated the adwords campaign, probably after checking this blog)

This kind of event raises some interesting questions:

- Such commercial strategy is interesting for the open source community?

- Is this legal to do this? Can Db4O ask Google to display an ad with the name of a concurrent open source project linking its own site?

Any thought about this?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Open Source and Dual Licensing

Open Source Software (OSS) is often associated to Free Software, but there are many differences. The spirit behind Open Source Communities is not always easy to understand.

My vision about OSS has changed since I have started the NeoDatis project (An Open Source Object Database for Java, .Net & Mono - www.neodatis.org). I initially opt for using an Open Source license based on the fact that database market was already very competitive and critical. I wanted/needed quick user feedback to check the concept. And I am amazed now to see how people want to join the project and how people want to help. The fact of being OSS removes barriers between the user and the development team. Simple communication channels like bug report, feature requests, forum and chat rooms give the user almost instant access to the project team. The fast team response is also very important, people are surprised with that. This enables a very high level of user feedback which is maybe one the most important point in software development (IMHO).

Business model

For business reasons, being one of the best way to monetize open source project, the dual licensing model is growing fast. Dual licensing is commonly defined by two ways of distribution of a same product/code base: one open source license for personal use, educational use and compatible open source projects. The other license being commercial.

The big question is : is dual licensing compatible with open source spirit?

Code submissions by contributors may be integrated to the product code base and thus provide competitive advantages to the commercial product version without the contributor receiving any $. This is very different from real open source project where people contribute with a simple and non profit objective : build a better software.

Does someone wants to collaborate to a dual licensing project the same way he would contribute to a real open source project? Would you want to give code to a project that will be redistributed in a commercial way leveraging the owning company some additional revenues.

In my case, the answer is NO. So why Open Source?. Should not it be labeled 'free for evaluation, personal use and compatible open source projects' ?

Some will say that open source provide access to the source code which is a very important point. But what is source code without any proper documentation. Just providing source code for download is not enough. A real effort must be done to document the architecture, to comment the source code. If you want people to help, it is necessary to help them to do it. At NeoDatis, we have a special wiki (wiki.neotadis.org) where we try to explain all about the database internal architecture. There is no hidden information. I believe it is part of the open source spirit and may be more important than just providing a zip file with the source code.

That is why I think that dual licensing is incompatible with open source spirit and is nothing more than a marketing approach trying to benefit from the Open Source Momentum.