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Who should maintain open source projects?

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When making procurement decisions, it often all comes down to whom you trust. If you're buying a copier or a forklift, a strong brand name can give you confidence in your purchase. The same is true for big-name commercial software. But when it comes to open source, things aren't that simple.

One argument says that the open source model itself is your best assurance of quality. The combined resources of the open source community can potentially far outweigh those of a single, traditional software vendor.

At least, that's how Jeremy Boynes sees it. Boynes is CTO of Gluecode, whose product, Gluecode JOE, is an open source platform for enterprise Java application development. Although Gluecode employees have contributed significantly to the project, the company has not chosen to act as sole custodian of its codebase as other companies, such as MySQL and Computer Associates, have done.

Of course, not everyone agrees with this approach. One naysayer is Marc Fleury, founder and CEO of JBoss. His company's open source Java application server commands market share that Gluecode's Geronimo can so far only dream of. Like Gluecode, JBoss also aims to deliver portals and other sophisticated enterprise apps built on an open source foundation. But to Fleury, relying on community-driven development isn't enough.

Two companies. Two very similar products. Both open source, but with different methodologies. Which would you go with? Ultimately, I guess it all depends on whom you trust.

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