Diversity is not the only answer

Dave Carver started it and Pascal fed the fire. If you missed it, there are confusing and highly inaccurate statistics captured by the Eclipse Foundation that measure diversity in the Eclipse projects. Stats or not, there are a lot of projects where it’s clear, there is one vendor paying a very disproportionate number of comitters that work on the project. And it’s not always IBM.

But I think that misses the point. For open source projects to survive you need one key ingredient. Be OPEN! Simple, no? One reason that non-diverse projects suffer is that most of the decisions are made behind closed doors at that company. How many times has some feature or project just showed up one day, all the key decisions leading to their creation happening hidden in meeting rooms instead of out on the mailing lists. What kind of trust does that build?

A couple of Eclipse Summit Europes ago, I received the biggest insult I ever recieved working in open source. Having just joined Wind River, one of the attendees suggested that the CDT was just a Wind River project. After all the work I’ve done and career limiting decisions I’ve made to be as vendor neutral as possible in my work on CDT, I was hurt. But it drove home the point. Wind River was the elephant in the room, at least by perception, and that hurts trust.

I think Eclipse has a lot to learn from other successful open source projects. If we truely want to continue the success, we need to be real open source projects, not only in governance, but in culture too. That starts by dropping the vendor centric nature of the Eclipse projects and opening them up to everyone.