Monty Widenius Leaves Sun

I read on Matt Asay’s blog that Monty Widenius has left Sun. As usual, I disagreed with his interpretation of that information, but I found it ironic that it happened while I was in Milan as a guest of Sun Italia.

I see Sun as a company that is trying hard to understand open source. They have made some impressive moves in the area, from OpenSolaris and OpenJDK to the acquisition of MySQL. But while eager to change they are also, like many of us, trying to figure out how to support open source while staying in business.

Matt explains Monty’s departure as

Widenius’ ideals don’t translate well to a big software business

I see it as just the opposite. Open source spells the end of big software, if big software is defined as companies that make billions of dollars from selling software licenses. True open source projects exist outside of any one company or any one person. They have a life of their own and they continue to grow or they die. Those that grow tend to grow in directions that are the most useful, since the energy powering that growth are people with immediate problems to solve.

As such they will continue to put pressure on commercial software by providing, for free, the features that are most needed by the most people.

I was asked during our seminar today how we maintain the quality of OpenNMS code. I talked about test driven development and pair programming, along with our annual Dev-Jam where the key people in the community gather to learn, regroup and focus. This allows us to insure that each release of OpenNMS is better than the last.

Matt states one reason that Widenius left was “that the MySQL 5.1 release wasn’t ready for public consumption”. On thinking about this I decided I needed to add one more reason to use open source to my growing list. Open source does not have any artificial deadlines for releasing code. While we have a schedule and a roadmap for OpenNMS, we’ll release the next version only when it is ready.

In my mind Monty is a role model and I wish him all the best.