>One of the things I ask myself from time to time is if Eclipse would survive if the commercial entities that fund the Foundation were to suddenly pull their resources and stop participating. Personally, I think pieces of it would survive, but the eclipse landscape would drastically change.
Pieces of the Runtime, Eclipse Platform, and Modeling would continue. However, I’m not so sure about the other pieces. I wonder about the same thing for Netbeans, what happens if Sun pulls support, or even Open Office. Would these open source projects continue?
The problem with commercially backed open source projects is that if the commercial interests aren’t interested any more, most projects will go extinct. There are some examples at Apache Foundation that should be warning signs to the eclipse community. One such example is the Xalan-J project. Xalan-C is still being maintained, but the the Xalan-J project has pretty much run it’s course. The reason can be partially to blame on the fact that almost the entire project was supported by one committer or commercial entity. There was no diversity in the project to keep it going once the main group started the project left or was re-assigned. With out this diversity of commercial and non-commercial interest, the project dies.
Some point to the Linux project as the ray or light. The thing about Linux is that it has a grass roots base built on a very dispersed community. It has both individuals, hobbists, and commercial interests backing it. If Linus were to step away…Linux would continue. Somebody in the group would step in. Can we say the same thing about the Eclipse projects we use? That we contribute to? That we commit code to? If you are a committer, would your fellow committers do this if they weren’t paid to do it? Why do you contribute or commit code to eclipse projects? The answers you come up with could affect eclipse as a whole.
Open source is typically a place where 90% of the users consume the end product that 10% or less contribute. The same thing is true for Open Standards. Coming to grips with that reality is hard for companies to understand.
Building a community is hard work. It takes extra time beyond the standard 9 – 5 hours that are put in during the day. There are several people in the community that believe this, others it’s just a job. The community as a whole needs both to survive long term.