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From Kevan Miller <>
Subject Re: How contributors participate in this community?
Date Sun, 19 Feb 2012 21:28:17 GMT
Oops. Forgot about your email... Apologies for the slow response. Hope
this helps...

On Tue, Feb 7, 2012 at 11:55 PM, maxj07 <> wrote:
> Hi,
>  I am a phd student of Peking University. My interest is to
> investigate hybrid projects (open source and backed by companies), e.g,
> how it affects volunteers compared to the beginning open and free world.
> I studied Geronimo through its log files in SVN, issue reports in Issue
> Tracker, emailing-lists and information all over Internet, found some
> interesting results, also have a couple of questions, hope any of you
> wouldn't mind reading and answering.
> Geronimo seems to go through two periods since is was born in 2003
> a)Period1: 2003.08-2005.04, open source period
> b)Period2: 2005.08-2010.08, hybrid with IBM's support, IBM provide Expert Technical Support
for Geronimo
> If I'm wrong, please correct me.

I would characterize both periods as 'open source' periods. At all
times, the Apache Geronimo PMC has been responsible for the management
of the Geronimo project. Not Gluecode, not IBM, nor any other company.

Gluecode was a company providing support for Geronimo. In 2005, IBM
acquired Gluecode. In both periods there were commercial interests in
the Geronimo project. There are commercial interests in most open
source projects. Organizations like the Apache Software Foundation
take steps to insulate their projects from these commercial interests.

> 1) It seems that Geronimo gets less external developers after IBM's
> support -- I identified external developers through the committer list on Apache website
> (committers not from IBM are regarded as external developers. See
> Is that because a new protocol requires a long process to get commit
> privilege?

There was no new protocol for obtaining commit privileges.

There was a period of time where the project was following a
Review-Then-Commit (RTC) policy, rather than a Commit-Then-Review
(CTR). This may have have resulted in slower development (and thus
indirectly impacted new committers joining the project).

A number of factors may impact participation in an open source
project. Release schedules, news articles, etc -- all can lead to
increased participation by a community (e.g. I would expect more bug
reports to be generated after a major release, and then taper off over
the lifetime of the major release).

> Or, people just simply didn't like any commercial companies
> getting involved therefore ran away? E.g, Similar case in JBoss: "There had been rumors
> swirling about various people leaving JBoss after its acquisition by Red
> Hat, including Marc Fleury." (See
> I also observed that JBoss showed the similar phenomena after RedHat stepped
> in. I suppose commercial involvement might hurt people in open source to
> some extent, I wonder what it is.

The RedHat acquisition of JBoss is quite different, IMO. Personally, I
would not equate an ASF project with an open source project like
JBoss, which is essentially controlled by a company (JBoss and then

The departure of employees following an acquisition is not unusual.
JBoss was "commercial". RedHat is "commercial". RedHat is also
"larger". I expect there were a number of reasons why JBoss employees
might have left: cultural, philosophical, and economic.

> 2) However, I found Geronimo developers stay shorter after IBM supported it.
> I am very curious about two things:
> (i) Only 2 out of 20 developers left before IBM supporting, why are so
> few developers leave and so many developers stick to this Open Source
> project at that time? Did those developers come from the same company or
> work in the same location?

I don't know what you mean by developers "leaving" (or how you're
measuring this). I wouldn't want to discuss any individuals by name
(or otherwise) on a public mailing list. 2003-2005 is, of course, a
shorter time period than 2005-2010. People become involved in open
source projects for a number of reasons (and also stop participating
for a number of reasons). A company's interest in sponsoring employees
to participate in an open source project could certainly play a role
in this.

> (ii) Whether most of the active contributers were recruited to support
> the community after IBM's support? So IBM would decide who is assigned
> to work on Geronimo and how long they would stay in the project?

Companies may ask their employees to participate in open source
projects. IBM has (and continues to) sponsor participation in the
Geronimo project. Some companies may have sponsored participation in
Geronimo, but later decided to allocate their resources to other
projects. Same is true for individuals.

> 3) People always say one big advantage of OSS is to have a big amount of
> users reporting issues therefore help improve quality. During 2005 to
> 2008, right when IBM began to support Geronimo, there was an big
> increase of users(saying 5 to nearly 20 users per month) reporting
> issues. However, I found a decrease (dropped to around 10 user-reporters
> per month) since the end of 2007. So I wonder what happened to the
> community since then? Is there a new way faster to report issues? Or is
> that because IBM restrict the usage of JIRA so as to ensure the issue
> quality, such as it requires users to first ask in maillist then in

There are no process changes regarding Jira. You may find a
correlation of increased Jira reports with major Geronimo releases (a
period where more people may be using Geronimo, also a period where
there may be more bugs in the software).

> I also found developers are the majority of issue reporters, not only in
> Geronimo but also in JBoss nowdays. I was wondering, is that because
> JIRA is more for developers now (users are in maillist or forum or smth
> like this)? Or, developers are required to report before jumping into
> fixing/changing code?

Use of Jira is encouraged (though not strictly required). It provides
a way of tracking new features and functions that are added to
Geronimo. It's also not unusual for developers to creat a Jira issue
based on a user's report of a problem in an email, IRC message, etc.

> I believe what Geronimo is doing has great implications for software
> engineering, e.g, how to build a better community, what are the best
> practices to attract participators. I would greatly appreciate any
> comments you might have.

Hope the above helps.


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