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As you have probably heard by now, Hunter S Thompson committed suicide last Sunday. If you don't know who HST is, well, he was the guy who invented "gonzo journalism" and more famously the author of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", an hilarious tale of drug binging in the 70's. If you haven't read it, go read it.


Today's International Herald Tribune wrote (my father sent me the quote from paper)

« Thomson’s approach in many ways mirrors the style of modern-day bloggers, those self-styled social commentators who blend news, opinion and personal experience on Internet postings. Like bloggers, Thomson built his case for the state of America around the framework of his personal views and opinions ».


Ironically his live-in guy was the boyfriend of my sister, a guy by the name of Ben Fee. Hunter liked ben and gave him a place to stay in Aspen, I believe it is because Ben doesn't do any drugs AT ALL. The kid doesn't even get smashed with us at christmas dinners. Even when 67 years old hunter would encourage him to drop acid with him he would pass. Amazing. I believe that Ben was so different from the people Hunter met that he probably took to liking him.


Apart from being my sister's boyfriend, Ben is also a talented snowboard videographer and is studying film in LA. Ben will be filming JBossWorld which is taking place in ATL next week. Essentially we want to do a "reality show" about JBW and have the camera come with me to interview people at the show in the meetings, on stage etc, it will be fun and since he has that dynamic camera from the snowboarding experience, we will make it available on the web.


But the real story, where JBW and Hunter come together, is that for JBoss World we wanted to interview Hunter on his thoughts about software and open source in particular. I wanted to include a quote from the guru in our introduction. I mean Open Source is about as 70's in spirit as it gets. Here is a field where the old idealism is alive if not thriving, it ain't exactly sex, drugs and rock roll, but it is pretty close :)


We rant about and believe in communities, brotherly love and hatred, promiscuous sex through code, and that tomorrow will be a better world because of what we are doing. The old delusional "making an impact on the world" is alive and well, and a lot of it right here at JBoss. Really I just wanted to meet The Man.


So Ben went to ask Hunter if he would do the interview, apparently he replied "I don't give fuck all about software" and then committed suicide.


So close and yet so far, see many of you next week in Atlanta,


Remember we love you.




In this article, RedHat's Michael Tiemann says:

"One of the mistakes we made when we launched this Enterprise Linux product was we focused so exclusively on this enterprise market that we left this (early-adopter customer) square uncovered," Tiemann said. "It insulted some of our best supporters. But worse, we lost our opportunity to do customer-driven innovation."


I was surprised when RH made the announcements around the Fedora/RHEL split. I thought it was long term suicide for the benefit of short term profit. Let me explain. OSS businesses thrive on the distribution reach OSI licenses afford them. In other words, JBoss incurs a 20c cost of sales for every dollar in maintenance, where proprietary vendors incur a $2.5 COS for every dollar. This, by the way is why the model works, we can do R&D without the licenses.


Limiting access to the "real distribution" seemed non-sensical. Let people use your stuff and then turn them on. The way I rationalized the decision by RH was based on branding. That essentially RH had enough of a brand and market presence, 85% in the US. I think they thought they could get away with it. I still saw it as the best way to alienate your user base as Michael now acknowledges.


On the positive side, since RH went to a proprietary distribution model (you really have to buy their distro to use it) they made tons of cash and became profitable (GAAP) which is an impressive feat given that 5 years ago they were still in the packaging/barnes and noble distribution model.


Another point Tillman makes is around innovation. We couldn't agree more. Keeping your projects viable and alive is something we focus on at JBoss. All the projects under "professional open source" management that are part of JEMS, be it Tomcat, JBoss AS or Hibernate, are the REAL products, no split, I think this is a lot cleaner. We want the open project to yield enterprise open source quality though our "Professional Open Source" methodology, it is that simple. We sponsor the actual projects as our main expense in R&D.


We selected our VC about a year ago, and one big component was "did they get it". Some would walk in and start talking about "taking the product proprietary" or offering "enterprise versions". We would walk away. I am glad this article by Tiemann validates our choices,




In this article James Gosling bashes us (OSS vendors) by basically saying that

"There are all these open source groups that have to figure out what their economic model is," Gosling told Computerworld. "Everyone that works on these open source projects [must] pay rent and buy where does that money come from? Open source vendors also came under fire, with Gosling sideswiping MySQL, JBoss, and Red Hat: "They say that they are running their businesses based on services. "These businesses are more hype than reality. If they don't have a [longer term] economic model...they are going to have a really hard time."


Since I am an absolute fan of mr gosling, I take the criticism to heart. I just want to reassure him that our models are financially viable. The first dirty little secret of OSS models is that we keep the scalable part of the enterprise model intact, namely we are software vendors that focus on the maintenance part of the business and give the software away for free. It is financially sound in our case. If you look at RH growth since they went public you will see that with constant net new business (null second derivative == they don't accelerate their sales) they are capable of scaling because of a 65% renewal rate year to year. Subscription based revenue streams are nice because they are very predictable in their half life. Wall Street is warming up to that model and understands that you don't value the companies on P/E but rather free cash flow. It scales. JBoss for example was always cash flow positive, meaning that more money comes in that goes out and we haven't touched the VC money we raised a year ago. Basically we have grown on the cash generated by operations. Few startups can say the same in the traditional enterprise model.


I presume that Mr Gosling mistakes services businesses, which scale linearly with people (bad) with OSS services businesses which scale geometrically with people, as the traditional software businesses do (good). In other words, we pay for our rents, we pay for our kids through school. The model works and we are bringing it to other regions of software.




OK the critics of the "professional open source" model just reached a new low. It is funny how everyone has an opinion of how open source should work. Not that these people actually CONTRIBUTE anything significant to open source but they still have an OPINION of how OSS should be run.


In that particular entry, the opinion seems to be that the developers who create OSS should work regular jobs and develop OSS on a volunteer basis. How dare we consider offering services around our own creations?


But what was sad and DISGUSTING to me was when I read that the critic runs " a consulting company specializing in Apache, Tomcat, and Cocoon consulting, support, and training services." I almost wanted to cry. Meaning that JBoss helps this guy make money by sponsoring Tomcat and being the lead developers. We pay for that development, he makes money off of it.


So this guy is in the business of suckling on the success of OSS projects. JBoss like models piss him off when we offer these services from the source since we cut into his potential markets...and profits in order to pay our own developers and R&D and bring that PIG professional open source grade software like Tomcat 5.5...


The disgusting hypocrisy of it all made me feel sick.