Feeds

Sun accused of hardball open source project tactics

Weighs ex-employee's claim

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Neil Wilson, a recently laid-off Sun Microsystems employee and a former owner of the OpenDS project, has accused his ex-boss of using strong-arm tactics to keep control of his project.

In an open letter Wilson said he's finally gone public to "clear the air" having kept quit for fear of potential retaliation from Sun. Retaliation in this case meant lost severance.

Wilson helped found OpenDS, which aims to build a free, open-source directory service. Written in 100 per cent Java, it includes a directory server and such related services as directory proxy, virtual directory, namespace distribution, and data synchronization. Wilson served as project architect, and claimed to have contributed "more code than anyone else."

He and four other OpenDS committers were laid off when Sun closed an Austin, Texas, facility in late September and moved the Directory Server engineering group's activities - which included OpenDS - to a facility in Grenoble, France. The other OpenDS project owners were Stephen Shoaff, Don Bowen, and David Ely, and OpenDS community manager Trey Drake.

In an open source project, "owners" are the participants who establish the governance scheme, set the projects goals, guide the community effort, and resolve disputes among project contributors.

According to Wilson, the group planned to continue working on OpenDS after the layoff. But in mid-November, they clashed with Sun executives over the project's governance. According to Wilson, they were informed of Sun's intention "to change the OpenDS governance policy so that the project was controlled entirely by a Sun-selected committee."

Then, during a conference call, Sun "demanded that the owners approve a governance change that would grant Sun full control of the OpenDS project. During this call, we were threatened that if we did not make this change we could face immediate termination and loss of all severance benefits."

The soon-to-be former Sun employees decided, Wilson wrote, they couldn't, in good conscience, approve the change, but didn't want any trouble about their severance. "After first trying to resolve the issue through more amicable avenues," Wilson continued, "we were ultimately compelled to resign our ownership and end our association with the project on November 19, 2007."

Sun insists that, though some executives were probably playing hardball in this exchange, no one was ever asked to leave the community. And in his letter, Wilson said that he believes this clash was not representative of Sun's true open source strategy, but was "a relatively isolated incident brought on by middle management acting of their own accord."

At press time, Wilson had not returned our calls. You can read his entire letter here.

Simon Phipps, Sun's chief open-source officer and ombudsman, was reluctant to talk about the incident, because he said he's still looking into it. But he did want to set the record straight on a few points.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
HTML5 vs native: Harry Coder and the mudblood mobile app princes
Developers just want their ideas to generate money
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.