% fortune -ae paul murphy

Torvalds doesn't live in Indiana

The trouble with the worker's paradise idea is that it takes a dictator to make it happen - meaning that the happier the workers and useful idiots proclaim themselves, the worse off they are likely to actually be.

Conversely a functioning democracy often shows the opposite effect: the more whining and complaining you hear about the leadership, the healthier the place is and the more freedom the members are likely to have.

With that in mind, consider first the lack of response in the Linux community as various key players create and abandon everything from kernel structures to licenses, community groups, and commercial alliances.

Contrast that, then, with what's happened in the OpenSolaris community over the "project indiana" idea touted from the top by Jonathon Schwartz and Ian Murdock.

Here's a succinct summary by Eric Boutilier quoting a situation summary apparently by James Carlson:

> * A number of members in several OpenSolaris discussion fora mooted the idea> of OpenSolaris producing a distribution. It's a pretty obvious idea and people keep asking where to find that distribution, so many of us (me included) felt it was a reasonable proposal.
> * Some of those people actually started sketching out a plan in a forum.
> * Meanwhile, Ian Murdock was hired by Sun and he felt this was an idea worth investing in
> * Ian got Sun's management bought in to the idea of a new investment in this community
> * One of those management was so excited he commented to the press during JavaOne, creating fear among those who resent "management interference"
> * Ian rapidly got staff allocated and came back to the community with news that Sun would commit resources to a community distribution
> * Glynn has started the process of co-ordinating the community decision by creating an outline proposal and submitting it to both the OGB and the Discuss list for discussion.
> We are now at the stage where (as John Plocher said) for some reason some high-profile individuals are "throwing up logistical barriers to this effort instead of facilitating them", something that has not seemed to happen to a project proposal on OpenSolaris before.

I disagree, what's actually happening here, I think, (and as others have pointed out) is turmoil over some troublesome questions:

Is the designation "The OpenSolaris Distro" claimable by a project? And if yes, does the Indiana project get to claim it?

This is a struggle for control - and the project's failure to get off the ground on a Sun executive's say so is proving that Sun the corporation does not own its offspring: the OpenSolaris community.

That doesn't mean, of course, that a reference distribution isn't a good idea or won't happen: here's what Ben Rockwood said about that in his blog

What we've found in the last 2 years is that killer features like DTrace, ZFS, and SMF are exciting to people, but simply not enough to attract and keep people. A large community of people are waiting for our technologies to be integrated with their OS of choice, whether it be OS X or FreeBSD or Linux. They are checking out the technology and then going back and waiting. Lets learn from this please! If we want real traction we must embrace the future, and the future, at least v1.0 of it, is Project Indiana. And thats what will happen before we turn 3.

There's no question that's right; but what the rebellion over the current process shows is that process counts, that "free and open" isn't just a slogan, and that absent a benevolent dictator an ill considered choice can be quickly reversed, re-thought, and re-invented for everyone's benefit.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.