Advertising "open core" software

Yaakov Nemoy loupgaroublond at
Wed Apr 14 08:17:15 UTC 2010

Hey All,

2010/4/14 Rahul Sundaram <metherid at>:
> Hi,
> Open core, for those not familiar with the term is the business model of
> keeping some key features closed and selling a proprietary product where
> the "core" functionality is free and open source.  Two features in the
> feature list are such software
> Zarafa groupware and IntelliJ IDEA, IDE for Java have a number of
> features that is only available in their proprietary product.
> Do we care?  I am concerned about this.

We had an interesting talk about the differences between Open Core and
Open Source at LOADays last weekend. We went over some of the
different "Open Core" models out there, and while we were pretty
unanimous in that Open Source is better, one takeaway was that we need
to differentiate between who is doing Open Source The Right Way (TM)
and who isn't.

There are a number of issues we can identify, mostly orthogonal to
each other, but combine defines how "Open" you might say the
project/product/company is.

1) The source code is available freely, but not really usable without
some tweaks, build hacks and possibly the sacrifice of

2) The source code is available only to customers and is not freely
available on the company's website.

3) There are modules you can purchase or get a support contract that
adds critical value to the software, but are not available under an
open source license; the community is forced to reimplement this

4) There are modules you can purchase or get a support contract that
primarily focuses on interoperability with uncooperative proprietary
software, and the code itself is encumbered by legal hurdles such as
patents, trade secrets, NDA.

To different degrees, each situation here can be understandable and
reasonable or not. I suggest that if this is an important issue, we go
into exactly the different models of what's open core and what's just
'barely' open source, provide working recommendations on what works
for us, and codify these standards.

In any case, as long as the code itself can be gotten Freely, there's
no reason why it shouldn't be in Fedora. Perhaps people demanding more
openness because they like the product can change the minds of the
company that's creating it.


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