Once again a Sun open source project is having a revolt in their community. Last December, Sun was accused of playing hardball with an ex-employee over the governance structure of OpenDS. Now it seems the OpenSolaris community is in turmoil due to Sun’s decision over the use of the OpenSolaris trademark and the resulting resignation of a Ray Fielding, a longtime Apache member who was trying to help the OpenSolaris community get started. Stephen O’Grady and Michael Dolan have some excellent commentary.
There is a very simple solution that I offer to Sun. Stop setting up community governance boards for your projects. They are causing confusion and setting the wrong expectations within the community you are trying to build. Instead, follow the MySQL/JBoss model and be a true open source company that employs all of the committers, sets the project roadmap, owns and protects all of the trademarks and is focused on making a profit from your open source projects.
There is nothing wrong with this. You actually spent $1 billion on a company that was very successful doing this. Your communities and employees will appreciate the honesty. They will understand you own and intend to profit from the trademarks. Your employees will also know that their involvement in the project is due to their employment with Sun.
Right now it seems Sun is trying to be like Apache, Linux, or Eclipse but acting like MySQL or JBoss. Both models have proven to build great communities and successful open source projects. However, trying to be in between is just plain confusing.