Subject: Re: street performer protocol
From: Brian Behlendorf <brian@collab.net>
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 14:01:40 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 25 May 2000, Crispin Cowan wrote:
> Now GNOME is back where it started, save for the fact that several years of
> work have been accomplished faster than they would have without
> RH funding.  Both the developers and the code are at liberty to continue
> developing GNOME, as they were before, because RH has studiously GPL'd all
> the GNOME code they fund.
> 
> So, tell me again what the down-side is for GNOME relying heavily on RH
> funding?

The issue is momentum.  If RH's investment represents a minority of the
overall development, it's probably not a problem - there are reportedly 
200 active developers, so a few full-timers probably don't matter too
much.  But if a single company comes to fund a majority of development on
a particular project, and then stops that suddenly without allowing other
parties to ramp up, the momentum of the project may be lost, with the
"core developers" moving on before being able to bring new blood up to
speed on the code base.  The project might not survive that; even if it
does, it may end up being behind where it otherwise would have been had
those developers been compensated by a wider pool of funders (including
themselves).

In Gnome's case, it's not RH to consider, it's HelixCode.  Helix has, my
understanding is, hired the 20 top developers on Gnome.  I have no idea
what %age of the really active development team that is (or whatever other
software metrics one would wish to apply), but it begs the question as to
what might happen were Helix to run low on money and have to lay off
developers or shut down.  Not that I think that's likely - if they did run
low I'd expect their executive staff to merge or consider other options
rather than dissolve what is potentially a very strong technical team -
but it just "feels" like it introduces an inherent instability to Gnome as
a public project.  If that sounded like FUD, I apologize, I don't intend
it to be and think nothing but the best of Miguel and Nat and the others.
From an economical/biological perspective, though, it's something to
watch.

	Brian