From the ‘No Forks Here’ files:
The notion of being able to fork a project is core to open source. It’s also potentially a bad thing in some cases as it can lead to fragmentation of a user base and compatibility issues.
The OpenStack effort which is currently trying to figure out how to govern itself in a new OpenStack Foundation isn’t keen on forks. In a Friday Webinar talking about the goals of the new Foundation, Rackspace VP of Business & Corporate Development Mark Collier specifically took aim at the fork issue.
“It is self-evident that a fork would be bad. We should be trying to make sure that we discourage it,” Collier said.
The purpose of the webinar was to help outline how the new Foundation might be structured, but unfortunately there is now easy way to structure an organization to prevent forks.
“There is no magic pixie dust for preventing a fork,” Collier said.
Well, actually there is – kinda/sorta in my view a way to mitigate the fork and Rackspace already know this better that I do. OpenStack already has efforts underway that protect the name OpenStack and help to define what is and isn’t OpenStack (since there can be different implementation). Sure, you could always just change the name (think LibreOffice); but the OpenStack name as a brand has value today.
It is clear that the purpose of the OpenStack Foundation will be to make sure that OpenStack remains freely available, no changes to the Apache License are coming and the community is all about being open.
It is possible to be open, encourage discussion and still remain a somewhat cohesive whole without forks– just ask the Eclipse Foundation, they’ve been doing it for years.