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VA Linux to Sell Proprietary Version of Sourceforge

michael posted about 13 years ago | from the brother-can-you-spare-a-dime dept.

VA 267

Cassivs writes: "There's an article claiming that VA Linux is planning on selling a proprietary, closed-source version of SourceForge, SourceForge Enterprise Edition. See the letter to SourceForge members assuring them that VA Linux will continue to provide free hosting/etc. at SourceForge. They will also continue to maintain a GPL version of the code, SourceForge Open Edition." VA is Slashdot's corporate parent.

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I want to sell a proprietary version of... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212718)

my 1st post!

Re:I want to sell a proprietary version of... (-1, Offtopic)

trollercoaster (250101) | about 13 years ago | (#2212722)

You win. I verify this to be this first post attached to this article. Good job and hope you win the powerball jackpot as well.

Re:I want to sell a proprietary version of... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212889)

Yesterday I sucked the dick of a horse. Then i bent over and let it rubs its huge cock on my asshole. Although I wish I had a rectum the size of goatsex-man, then the horse could penetrate my spinchter.

I know I know, I tried KY-Jelly on the horses cock, but that just doesn't seem to do it. Sorry, I'll try again tonight

Re:I want to sell a proprietary version of... (1)

Captain Salad (513537) | about 13 years ago | (#2212892)

Please keep us informed of your progress!

Re:I want to sell a proprietary version of... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212965)

You should sell that first post on ebay.

Open Source, RIP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212723)

Time of death: 2001

3RD POST (-1, Offtopic)

NiGGeRZ_R_SMeLLy (456917) | about 13 years ago | (#2212724)


not really news... (5, Insightful)

UM_Maverick (16890) | about 13 years ago | (#2212725)

This really isn't a big deal. Linux/dot-com company sells new product. Where's the story? The only reason this got posted is because hundreds of readers would have moaned and griped if it didn't, saying "slashdot is censorware!"...

As a side note, does anybody know of any companies that are actually using sourceforge enterprise for interenal development?

Re:not really news... (-1, Offtopic)

l3377r0lld00d (446065) | about 13 years ago | (#2212789)

> "slashdot is censorware!"...

Score: -1 (Redundant)

Re:not really news... (1)

defence budget (410076) | about 13 years ago | (#2212806)

No, but I *do* know of many "software" companies which don't even know of such things :P

More dilbert, anyone?

Re:not really news... (3, Informative)

bat'ka makhno (207538) | about 13 years ago | (#2212818)

As a side note, does anybody know of any companies that are actually using sourceforge enterprise for interenal development?

Yeah, HP, according to the article. I've also read elsewhere that a large NY investment bank was using SourceForge - Morgan Stanley IIRC.

It's a good thing, for those who care about VA Linux. If those two large clients see benefits from using SourceForge, it could present LNUX with an important foothold on both coasts, in the IT as well as the financial market. Not a bad deal.

Of course it is news (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212836)

Not that VA is necessarily doing something bad, but that this is quite a change in their direction.

"We are firmly committed []
to Open Source development as a methodology for creating better
software, faster."
-- Dr. Larry M. Augustin, president and CEO of VA Linux Systems, as quoted in a September 2000 press release.

Later down that press release we learn that "VA Linux Systems'
mission is to make its customers successful through the use of Linux
and Open Source -- whether they are e-businesses rapidly expanding
their Internet infrastructures, or technology companies leveraging the
power and methodology of Open Source software development. As part of its commitment to expanding the Open Source community, VA Linux
Systems operates the Open Source Development Network (OSDN)."

Take all the references to "Open Source" out, and you have a more accurate and to-the-point statement of what seems to be their current mission.

Bill Gates responds to VA's follies (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212884)

"Eat it, bitches"

Oh, and this little piece of fecal matter "Your comment violated the postercomment compression filter" really impresses me. What a bunch of jagoffs. postercomment compression filter? Puh-leeeze, cockgobblers. Taco, take some of the jack you're going to make on Closed-Sourceforge (not much, btw), and BUY A FUCKING CLUE ASS LICKER

Sure it's news... (3, Insightful)

duffbeer703 (177751) | about 13 years ago | (#2212929)

A leading "Open-Source" company is taking the work of the "community", repackaging it into a closed-source product and selling it corporations and government as a proprietary product.

It is news because it highlights the death of the "Free Software" large-scale business model.

Re:not really news... (1, Interesting)

sllort (442574) | about 13 years ago | (#2212945)

hundreds of readers would have moaned and griped if it didn't, saying "slashdot is censorware!"...

Jesus, quit ripping off my material [] .

/. not displaying news about VA Linux might be hypocritical, but it wouldn't make them Censorware. To my knowledge, /. has put their Censorware days behind them.

Asking devs to assign copyright to VA though... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212948)

However, the REALLY BIG NEWS is that VA is contacting major contributors of code and asking them to "assign copyright" to VA.... I was called at home and asked to to this. I was originally nonplussed about it and was going to sign the forms (and get a $150 ThinkGeek gift cert. woo-hoo. Not.), then I saw the announcement. Now I'm not sure it's a good thing.

If they have all of the copyrights they can change the license. The guy I spoke with, one of their lawyers, I think, asserted that the code would remain under an Open Source license...

Does this creep anyone else out..?

This seems honest... (1)

BiggestPOS (139071) | about 13 years ago | (#2212727)

After the trolls post countless comments, and everyone already knows about it and us RESENTING you. Post a story about it. A nice fluff PR piece. Guys, we're losing it. Sourceforge isn't the Sourceforge I grew up with. Tis sad. Lets just hope /. continues the high level of professionalism it always has.

I do feel for the guys though, watching your stock drop, having to basically shutdown VA, that couldn't of been fun. Oh, and they've got all of us laughing our asses off. Its just cruel

Re:This seems honest... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212888)

slashdot professionalism? What Slashdot are you reading? I want in :)

Re:This seems honest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212943)

what you on about?

It looks ok to me! its damn fine.


Oh My Gawd (1)

Tinfoil (109794) | about 13 years ago | (#2212728)

Is it allowed under the GPL to make money?

that was sarcasm by the way, though I am sure this will anger many zealots.

Re:Oh My Gawd (1)

morcego (260031) | about 13 years ago | (#2212863)

Is it allowed under the GPL to make money?

I surely hope so. Otherwise, companies such as RedHat and Conectiva are in for a big trouble.

Actualy, once the GPL enforces the copyright, the author can change the license to whatever it likes at any time. Of course, versions already released under the GPL must be kept open. But there is nothing to hold the author from releasing a new version (based on the GPL version) under whichever license he chooses. He is the copyright holder, anyway.

But, again, versions already released onder the GPL can not have their licenses changed.

There is nothing ilegal about what VA/Linux is doing. Actualy, I see it as a source of money to pay for the Source Forge Open Edition development.

Game Over (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212729)

VA is living on borrowed time. It's all over. Bye bye Slashdot.

Don't worry (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212781)

Slashdot will be bought by Yahoo! or AOL. It really is better that way, anyway. They can probably give the crew a raise, and they may even bring back the Slashdot Cruiser contest!

Admission of failure for GPL as an economic model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212730)

Subject lines asks the question.

Of course it is! (1)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | about 13 years ago | (#2212962)

How can a business possibly expect to survive when they *don't sell anything*? Free software as a business model works if it's in conjunction with a product/service you're selling (hardware drivers, for instance). Open source is supposed to be a community movement, not a business one. If they want to sell money-making add-ons to sourceforge (I'm suspecting these are add-ons that most OSers wouldn't care much for anyway - sourceforge is doing fine without them as we speak), good on them. If they improve the OS core while they're at it, even better.

VA is Slashdot's corporate parent (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212732)

And Slashdot is VA's corporate lackey

And this ad is brought to you by... (0, Troll)

duffbeer703 (177751) | about 13 years ago | (#2212734)

Slashdot, where open-source fascists live...

Re:And this trolling is brought to you by... (0, Offtopic)

CodeRed (5676) | about 13 years ago | (#2212770)

And troll...

I prefer my code open, others can do whatever they want, as long as they don't go DMCA and postal :)

I want freedom... Free Software! As long as there is an alternative that is free (as in freedom) all is well.

Windows has its alternative (Linux, FreeBSD, etc) so all is well. I couldn't care how many problems Windows has, I have all the functionality I need (and WINE exists). Just wish the Blizzard series ran under WINE.

But you are correct, insulting masses is a good way to get happiness raised. +1 for you!

Re:And this trolling is brought to you by... (2, Interesting)

duffbeer703 (177751) | about 13 years ago | (#2212824)

How hypocritical is it that the people who run this site, while espousing the virtues of open source take an open-sourced program and make it proprietary.

While they will have a "Source Forge - Open Edition", there will undoubtably be features in the "Enterprise" edition missing from the GPL'd release. Is this fair to those who have contributed to SourceForge on a voluntary and uncompensated basis? Will the open-source contributers receive royalties from the commercial product?

Where is JonKatz and CmdrTaco crying out against this now? I guess moral superiority stops at the hands of those who sign their checks.

Re:And this trolling is brought to you by... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212870)

For it to be hypocrisy, the people closing the sourc e -- not "the people running this site," whihc is a dangerously misleading phrase (Vice Admiral Empanada and crew handle the editorial decisions, and they didn't make the decision) -- would have had to

  1. maintained that all software should be open source
  2. continued to maintain that in light of the financial difficulties VA is facing

See, some might call it "changing one's mind." Maybe they used to think they could make a go of it by being completely open source.

Well, apparently that didn't work. We can be saddened by it, but that doesn't mean we can ignore the evidence in front of our eyes.

BTW, one can see the posting of this story as evidence of editorial feelings on this matter; if it weren't VA doing it, it wouldn't be a big deal.

But then, I suppose the knee-jerk response is the one that should be given? Yeah, that always plays well.

closed source open source community (3)

hyrdra (260687) | about 13 years ago | (#2212736)

A closed source version of an open source community? Quite the oxymoron.

Re:closed source open source community (1)

peripatetic_bum (211859) | about 13 years ago | (#2212782)

Actually, lets hope that VA does make money selling this "closed source" version which I really doubt will be closed as in source,

but more so, it will probably just not be open as in anyone can get into it.

Let's think about:

1. One of the main costs of software development is Development!

2. has been a model of code development and they have seen all the bugs, be their hardware or wetware, that anyone is likely to see.

3. Let them use the skill they have in running, maintaining, whaever,...that it takes to keep sourceforge running and apply it clients who are developing code

4. As business go to to more and more te,mo hired work, I cant thinki of a better way for companies that develop software, whether for inhouse or for outhouse[sorry :) ] then use the tools that the opensource community has helped develop.

In short, it makes all the sense in the wolrd to use the open source lessons learned and apply it to ther other endeavors, esp the important matter of making money.

Anyway, thanks

Ironic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212739)

I am not sure if this is ironic or not but bbspot seems to think so ;)

Taking The Microsoft Approach, Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212741)

So they've finally decided Open Source doesn't pay the bills... :p

a question i've had about open source (1)

TechnoVooDooDaddy (470187) | about 13 years ago | (#2212742)

so, the product has been GPL'd and open-sourced for a while now, and it's a collection of contributed elements from a presumably wide array of developers.. Now the company says "well, we need money, so we're going to take the codebase and sell it for profit." Is that fair to all the open-source developers out there that basically worked for free?

The current project team of sourceforge is listed as:

Ariel Garza, Tim Perdue, Dominick Bellizzi,Chad Schwartz, Dan Bressler, James Byers, Jim Gleason, John Mark Walker, Marc, Trae McCombs, Jacob Moorman, Ze Arruda, Patrick McGovern, Paul Sokolovsky, Uriah Welcome, Darrell Brogdon

are all these people employed by VA? Are they going to be compensated for their efforts once VA starts making cashola off this?

just curious..

yeah, um (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212765)

that's assuming they make money offa it.

i think VA needs whatever money it can possibly get these days.

Re:a question i've had about open source (1)

RatFink100 (189508) | about 13 years ago | (#2212775)

The way I read the letter - which was very brief - was that it's some new extensions which will be proprietary not SourceForge itself.

Morally I think it would be nice if the developers all received some part of the cash - if there ever is any. Mind you RedHat don't pay non-RedHat employees out the money they make out of GPL'd software do they?

Re:a question i've had about open source (2)

Dr. Evil (3501) | about 13 years ago | (#2212813)

The authors hold the copyright. It is released under GPL. If you violate the GPL and use the code of the authors, you are either acting under their special permission (likely paid for) or you are breaking copyright law.

If VA is writing extensions to Source forge, I can't comment... it's a complex issue. Are they or are they not derrivative works?

interfacing GPL'd with non GPL'd software (3, Interesting)

RatFink100 (189508) | about 13 years ago | (#2212868)

If VA is writing extensions to Source forge, I can't comment... it's a complex issue. Are they or are they not derrivative works?

First of all VA may have asked the authors to sign over copyright to them - as the FSF does. It's believed by many that this makes it easier to defend against GPL violations. I don't know whether this has happened or not - but I'd guess not.

Simply charging for distribution of GPL'd software - is not a violation of the GPL. The only possibly violation would be whether the 'extensions' together with the GPL'd stuff constitute a 'derived work' or merely an 'aggregate work'. That's what I meant about 'clean' interfaces.

My guess would be that we're talking about stand-alone programs which can be called by SourceForge with specific command line flags, input files etc. The fact that they are really designed to be used with SourceForge doesn't matter so long as they can be seen to be distinct programs.

From what someone else said - it looks as though these extensions are actually doing is talking to Oracle databases. So they have to make these extensions separate and proprietary in order to be able to interface with Oracle and not violate the GPL on the core software. It's a compromise based on the fact that their large customers want Oracle integration.

Re:a question i've had about open source (1)

dinivin (444905) | about 13 years ago | (#2212785)

are all these people employed by VA? Are they going to be compensated for their efforts once VA starts making cashola off this?

As long as VA Linux isn't violating the license, it doesn't really matter. Now, of course, the question is: Are they violating the license on the original code? Is this a closed-source Sourceforge in name only and not actually use any of the GPLed code?

Based on the article, only the enhancements will be closed source, so I don't see a problem with this.


Re:a question i've had about open source (2, Insightful)

jallen02 (124384) | about 13 years ago | (#2212902)

It does not matter.

They can take sourceforge and sell it right now in its entire form as a closed source product if they want.

So many people have missed this.

Think of Quake I and idsoftware. They released it under the GPL and will sell it too you proprietary for your own purposes IF you want to pay.

Sourceforge is doing the same thing.. They can sell the "GPL'd" version under any lic they want, they own the software.


Re:a question i've had about open source (2, Insightful)

RatFink100 (189508) | about 13 years ago | (#2212936)

They can sell the "GPL'd" version under any lic they want, they own the software.

Yes they can - if they really do own the software

The big question is - do they? Have the non-VA contributors signed over their copyright? And - something I've always wondered - how much of a contribution do you have to make to allow you to block this? If I make a 1 line change and submit a patch (C) Me - do they now have to consult me on licensing decisions? or is my work not considered significant enough to warrant that level of protection?

Re:a question i've had about open source (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212793)

I guess people who submitted patches signed over copyright to VA. I doubt that VA employees own copyright to their work-for-hire, almost no employed programmers do. Makes me glad I didn't waste my time contributing to the source so that VA could cash in by selling me out.

Re:a question i've had about open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212857)

Why would they receive compensation?

They contributed to Sourceforge for the sheer love of programming!

Are you from Mars or something?

Let them make their money (5, Insightful)

dodson (248550) | about 13 years ago | (#2212744)

There is nothing wrong with selling value added extensions, as long as they aren't violating the lisence on the original body of code.

The idea has always been pay for people not software.

Custom modifications and services are the only way Open Source will survive.

Free as in Freedom not Beer. Get it.

Re:Let them make their money (3, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | about 13 years ago | (#2212839)

There is nothing wrong with selling value added extensions, as long as they aren't violating the lisence on the original body of code.

Of course, if you own the copyright on that code, then you are free to relicence it any way you see fit.

You can't change the terms of the licence by which I acquired my copy, but you can make it available from you exclusively under its new terms.

Of course, if the original licence was GPL-like, then you can't stop me from redistributing my version (although you are free to ask me to stop, you can't force me to)



Re:Let them make their money (5, Interesting)

jeroenb (125404) | about 13 years ago | (#2212952)

It's not about whether or not you can sell GPL'ed software for money or not. Ofcourse you can, nothing wrong with that.

The only thing everyone seems to miss is that lots of people especially here on Slashdot keep claiming that the GPL will be the license of the future. That businesses will use it and everything will eventually become GPL. After all, information wants to be free, right?

Now there is this company that has been saying for years that they support Linux and the concepts behind the GPL all the way. Now however, they are trying to find a way for their company to actually make money and the only thing they can come up with is to make proprietary extensions. That's a bit too ironic isn't it? How can you expect a company (meaning: wanting to make money) like Microsoft ever to see the merits of the GPL when a supposed supporter of the GPL turns to the Microsoft model (proprietary software) to make money? That's just ridiculous.

So no, this is not violating any license or law, it's just a slap in the face of all those people who are trying to convince the world that the GPL is a viable license even for businesses.

Good! (1)

bflong (107195) | about 13 years ago | (#2212748)

I hope it works out for VA. If they can make money with this, and still supply the services that they are now, *great*!
I would much, much rather see this then VA going down the tubes becouse of lack of funds. They've done so much for the comunuity.

VA Linux To Try Making Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212749)

let's face it, va linux is in trouble. they are tyring to find new pathes to revenues.

i hope slashbots don't go off the deep end because some company wants to stay alive.

this post is bullet fast (-1, Offtopic)

Claude Debussy (138975) | about 13 years ago | (#2212751)

in fact this post is so god damn fast it would make Keanu Reeves head spin

Excellent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212757)

Glad to see that VA Linux finally "gets it."

Information wants to be secret!

Re:Excellent... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212886)


Re: the truth about michael sims (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212761)

watch it, these are some serious charges, man. do you have any proof to back up these claims? don't be surprised if you get bitchslapped or worse.

What good is it? (5, Interesting)

MSBob (307239) | about 13 years ago | (#2212763)

I can't see why a company may want to deploy sourceforge on site. Maybe I never worked for a big enough company but unless you have hundreds of projects I can't really see why one might one to have sourceforge in the office. Even when I worked for my biggest ever employer they had some sixteen distinct projects and that was a company with well over a thousand employees. Where's the selling point?

Re:What good is it? (4, Interesting)

Jorrit (19549) | about 13 years ago | (#2212833)

I think that a company will soon have a number of projects. Even if you only have three projects (which really isn't much for any company) then it is still nice to have a centralized point to control all this. SourceForge gives you cvs, bug tracker, support tracker, other trackers, message forums, mailing lists, ...

I can certainly imagine this to be very useful for even smaller companies.


Re:What good is it? (4, Informative)

GordonMcGregor (27949) | about 13 years ago | (#2212840)

My employer uses sourceforge internally.

We have approx 8000 designers/ software engineers/ admin and so can quite happily share code and jointly develop projects.

Re:What good is it? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212913)

Is it true that you work for Microsoft!?

Re:What good is it? (2, Interesting)

Jorrit (19549) | about 13 years ago | (#2212843)

Additionally I'd like to add that the value of SourceForge lies not in the number of projects that are hosted on it. Even with only one project in it something like SourceForge would be useful. At my work I only work on one projects (but there are more of course) but even so I would love to use SourceForge to keep track of bugs, supports requests, ...

So to summarize. Even if you only use the SourceForge code for one project it is still useful.


Re:What good is it? (3, Insightful)

dingbat_hp (98241) | about 13 years ago | (#2212864)

I can't see why a company may want to deploy sourceforge on site

There's no way I could get my PHB to use an open off-site SourceForge. The corporate mentality just can't cope with it - they really would rather we shared nothing and we lost half our changes.

After all, putting any of our product source into SourceForge means that it instantly becomes contaminated with the Cancer of Open Source (tm), and we would have to offer RMS a seat on the board. It must be true, he read it in Pointy Haired Weekly.

If I have a copy of SourceForge that I can spend proper money on, and I then get to label a box in the machine room as "Our SourceForge machine", then I might get to use it.

Oh, and VA Linux have to get some revenue from somewhere!

Re:What good is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212959)

Out of curiosity, what does sourceforge get you that the rational line of products such as clearcase/clearquest dont? Or vice versa? Obviously neglecting price, just looking for some sort of comparison

VA is Slashdot's corporate parent (0, Flamebait)

oddo (111788) | about 13 years ago | (#2212764)

"VA is Slashdot's corporate parent"

And therefore Slashdot cannot criticize them, even if there are very valid reasons for doing so.

Re:VA is Slashdot's corporate parent (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212845)

Well I didn't yet notice. Whenever there was something (serious) with VA there was first the slashdot story.

Like VA leaving the hardware sector -> slashdot story.
VA reducing staff count -> slashdot story.

I guess you don't have any proofs for your statement, slashdot usually picks on all equally and doesn't stop with it's corporate parents :o)

It's all about the bias (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212874)

If Microsoft were adding closed source extensions to Sourceforge and selling it as a package, I think the Slashdot story might have run just a bit differently...

Oracle on the back-end (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212768)

In a recent meeting with some VA Reps, they mentioned that a closed-source package of Oracle hooks would be coming out in the future, at the request of many of their large customers.

This was, of course, an answer to our question, "when will you support Oracle?" I felt funny asking that question, but OSS be damned. Oracle has it over any other database when it comes to performance and management.

I thought as much (3, Interesting)

RatFink100 (189508) | about 13 years ago | (#2212803)

this was the only plausible reason for making proprietary extensions - to provide 'embedded' interfaces proprietary software. Of course you have to make the interfaces between these extensions and the GPL SourceForge 'clean' in licensing terms.

Otherwise - if VA had really been converted to proprietariness - they'd have just re-licensed the whole thing.

Re:I thought as much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212925)

Well when you think about it all they need to do in some sort of module that doesn't contain GPLed code. That's pretty much how alot of vendors add features to the linux kernel that are not open source. Like nvidia's video drivers.

Closed vs Unavailable. (2)

onion2k (203094) | about 13 years ago | (#2212776)

Simple fact, if VA Linux goes under they'll be taking SourceForge, Slashdot, and a bunch of others down with them. Its not like they're closing the source completly after having had people work on it openly, it another product (presumeably the GPL stuff (which remains GPL) with closed source extensions). So I say let them sell, coz the profits from such go toward keeping the pretty cool free stuff around.

Posted in defence on the trusted sight comment and (3, Informative)

q-soe (466472) | about 13 years ago | (#2212778)

Got modded down - well i thought you could leave it alone but then again who knows - it might have been offtopic there but i have been seeing the misinformed stories all day


the end of the world as we know it

Actually the story says that VA linux is going to sell some investigate ways to make some money from their software development and thus build some applications that move in new ways - this is perfectly reasonable as their employees have mouths to feed.

I quote: (lifted without permission but maybe this wil stop the register being slashdotted)

SourceForge is the new ERP - VA Linux
By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
Posted: 24/08/2001 at 07:49 GMT

Barely six weeks ago VA Linux Systems was an open source hardware vendor. Now, the company is undertaking a Napoleonic retreat from the hardware business and it's doing the unthinkable: adding proprietary subscription software to its open source software flagship SourceForge.

VA swallowed charges of around $230m in the last quarter - $160 million coming under the category of "impairment of goodwill and intangible assets", and almost $70 million as a one-time charge - contributing to a net loss for the quarter of $290 million as it liquidated its PC manufacturing and sales businesses.

Costs will continue to affect the bottom line for two further quarters, said VA. Its Japanese subsidiary will continue to sell hardware, the company said, but that amounts to chump change.

The new software-only VA expects to make an operating lost of $10 to $13 million on revenue of $3 to $4 million in the forthcoming quarter. With a cash pile of $83 million, that gives the company as little as six months to ramp revenue, or else seek new investment. VA said its burn rate will continue to decline, suggesting that more layoffs are to be expected.

But CEO Larry Augustin is bullish. He says there was no competition for the distributed code management system SourceForge. Current development processes and tools haven't kept pace with geographically dispersed or ad hoc teams, according Augustin, who predicts that the impact of SourceForge could be as great as ERP or CRM.

Typically VA deals with in-house developers using a range of tools (it cites Borland, Rational and Microsoft as well as GNU tools). The company emphasises that seeks to complement rather than supplant existing tools.

VA is gunning for $600 revenue per seat per year - it claims that buyers typically see a return on investment within six months.

Augustin talks of adding "proprietary software features and functionality" to the subscription version SourceForge. That VA is looks at the software-hoarding model to save the business is an irony a few will savour, but we guess that by now badly singed VA investors will simply be hoping it flies. ®


They are not 'going closed source' they have had a subscription service for some time - the code is well developed and they are looking at new areas like ERP - they have a right to do it and if they dont they may very well be down the tubes.

From someone who works in MIS and who's company has just spent AU$20 Million on SAP let me tell you that this is a field where some competitors would be good - there arent many new products that ar worth buying and three companies have it tied up - SAP, Peoplesoft and JD Edwards.

And no - no company in their right mind would ever buy a free GPL erp system - these systems are the heart and sould of a business when you implement them - they do all payroll and accounting functions etc and no one would trust a product without a company with cash and controlled development backing it up.

I have been accused in the past of defending MS - so it might seem strange for the people who can't see past the MS sucks argument to defend an open source company but im not that narrow minded.

VA Linux have not sold out the GPL - they are simply running their free software projects and at the same time trying to make enough money to survive and build a new product in the meantime.

And you can only attack them ?

Christ have you stopped to think what this means if these guys get this right - ERP's are run on Windows or Unix Platforms - what this might give the world is a stable lower cost ERP alternative that is built on linux.

The problem with free sourcing applications like this is that VA would be expected by their clients to do all the development work but by the brethern to give everyone that work for free and thus give competitors the chance to profit off their hard work when they adapt the code and havent got to pay for the development.

Open source does not have to mean free IMHO - devlopment of corporate systems costs money - but maybe VA can start the ball rolling and we might win a few of those corporate file and app servers and some corporate desktops.

So please no more meaningless VA have sold out posts - its boring and innacurate and they are only being posted here because they own Slashdot and your trying to be smart (and failing)

Re:Posted in defence on the trusted sight comment (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212901)

Do you even know what ERP is? The idea (according to thereg) is not that sourceforge will provide ERP, but that the services that it does provide will be as sweepingly popular in (at least part of) the business world as ERP was during the last few years. That is, they are hoping Sourceforge installations will be the next 'thing to have' for software development shops.

Re:Posted in defence on the trusted sight comment (2)

q-soe (466472) | about 13 years ago | (#2212941)

Umm im in the middle of a frigging huge SAP implementation - do i know what ERP is ?

Oh god yes and i wish i didnt - ERP=Hell on Earth (BTW this is implementation 2 of this as 2 different companies and i used to sell and support R5 Camms and JD Edwards so yeah i know what ERP is - DO YOU ??

The article talks (from what i can see) about being able to leverage sourceforge code to ERP type solutions

ironic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212784)

Yet another company setup on the principles of Open Source can't hack it financually without closed source software.
I'm not trolling, just noting a truth. Only Redhat and perhaps Mandrake seem to be able to make money.

licence? (1)

YellowSubRoutine (230089) | about 13 years ago | (#2212800)

I'm curious what licence the'll use...

I think the easiest way would be to change the licence of sourceforge code to something less GPL, offer the free (beer) version (with source) to non-profit projects, and just licence the use of their code to profit orgs...

I saw them present this (5, Informative)

Eagle7 (111475) | about 13 years ago | (#2212807)

Some reps from VA came by and gave a presentation at my company regarding this product about 2 months ago.

Its actually pretty neat - they'll set up your own internal sourceforge on servers in your organization. And while they are doing it, they'll customize it so that the backend works with all of your already establised CM and problem tracking tools.

The idea is that even if your company makes closed software, you can benefit from a structured way to share code within the company. They can even close off portions with restricted access, so that classified projects (I work for a defense contractor) will only be available to the developers working on it.

The product the and the services they bring with it are really amazing... if I was in charge of such things here, I'd switch over ASAP. I really hope they make a go with this.

Re:I saw them present this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212910)

Sounds like CVS + bugzilla to me...

Re:I saw them present this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212946)

If you really are working on classified code on the same network as unclassified code that is a MAJOR security violation, regardless of the pseudo-security provided by the software. Classification levels need to be "air-gapped". e.g. work on the classified software on a CLOSED NETWORK ONLY.

Funny, isn't it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212808)

After all the slashdot stories worrying that Microsoft might try to "embrace and extend" open source work, here's VA Linux doing the job for them. How thoughtful.

Are they planning to sell buggy software ? (4, Informative)

chrysalis (50680) | about 13 years ago | (#2212814)

Sourceforge is a marvellous thing for developpers and it helps a lot the free software community.
However, Sourceforge is very buggy. Sometimes the CVS server refuses authentication. Sometimes, uploading new releases is impossible. Sometimes, I have to authenticate dozens of time. And it doesn't like Opera.
Maybe VA should fix Sourceforge before selling it.

Re:Are they planning to sell buggy software ? (1)

eulevik (258261) | about 13 years ago | (#2212821)

No, they are planning to fix the bugs, and sell the bug-fixed version.

So your choice is free buggy software or expensive reliable software.

Re:Are they planning to sell buggy software ? (3, Interesting)

Jorrit (19549) | about 13 years ago | (#2212856)

If you are refering to yesterdays incident to refusing authentication then I'd like to add that this was a scheduled downtime of the CVS services. This downtime was announced on the Sourceforge Site Status page.

Otherwise I have almost never problems with SourceForge and especially not with cvs. I use it daily (and more than once every day) for several of my projects without failure.


VA logo graphics (4, Funny)

aldjiblah (312163) | about 13 years ago | (#2212819)

Is VA trying to draw its own logo [] with its stock graph [] ?

The V is getting a little to big, time to move on people.

It does promise good times ahead though!

SourceForge Bug Reporting could use more features (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212822)

When you sort bug by priority, you cannot go to the second page. Bug reports do not offer links to patches (and vice versa).

I'm happy about this (4, Insightful)

SweenyTod (47651) | about 13 years ago | (#2212828)

In my opinion, this is a good sign for companies in the future. I mean, we have a company demonstratably commited to open source able to or trying to make some money from their open source. I hope they succeed.

To me it shows that they've understood how to make a living out of the free software fad, and are showing others how to make dollars out of the service industry. Good for them, and I truely thank them for what they've given me in the past, in the form of and sites like /.

Here's some reasoning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212830)

It's in flash format, but it's fairly informative. [] . If you're using Linux, you can see it with Netscape and the appropriate plugin, but I couldn't get it working with Mozilla. ;-(

The trolls are better than slashdot now (0, Troll)

TZA14a (9984) | about 13 years ago | (#2212834)

I read about this in -1 comments hours before it got posted on the main page. I think I'll start reading Trolldot [] instead.

Yeah, go ahead, mod me down. I don't care about my Karma.

Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212851)

I don't know about you guys, but this is not a good message for Open Source. Why doesn't VA, one of the biggest proponents of Open Source, switch to a closed source for business purposes all of a sudden? Sounds like 1). there is something wrong w/ the open source model after all, 2). there is something wrong w/ VA management, 3). there is someting wrong w/ me (always the possibility). Any insights?

The product isn't that great (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212852)

It isn't like the product was that great.

The only selling point might be the ease of starting new projects. Even that isn't all that great.

The whole thing is basically just some basic open source software development tools haphazardly latched together.

Now is the time to create a backup copy of the sourceforge CVS archive somewhere safe.


Good... (2)

Hard_Code (49548) | about 13 years ago | (#2212862) now maybe some PHBs will take notice instead of being afraid of using hippie commie software to manage their projects...I sure know it would help around here...

Ok, we've seen this before (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212865)

Remember when CDDB went bad and eventually turned into "Gracenote"? Well, this is the same thing, we can probably solve it the same way. We've got the codebase at least, we can develop from that and compete with the closed source version. All that we need is for someone to volunteer a site to host it on. If someone has a machine with a good hard drive in a dorm room, that might be good, they have fast connections at college, right? In the interim, we can probably rig a protocol to store and retrieve data from a hidden sid on slashdot, they won't mind the load, and it's for a good cause, right? Now let's get to work and fight for freedom!

Why shouldn't they? (1)

ViceClown (39698) | about 13 years ago | (#2212866)

I've already seen a dozen or so posts detailing why this isn't fair to the people who have contributed to sourceforge and helped create the functionality that it has now. To be honest, though, who offered the first olive branch? Im sure most if not all the people who have contributed code have also used sourceforge to communicate/facilitate their ideas and projects. That's payment enough IMHO. We have a huge, free, well developed architecture that VA said, "Hey develop here! It's free!" And now you want to give them a hard time when they want to make some money off of it? It has to come from somewhere ya know! The alternative would be they run out of cash and Sourceforge Open Edition gets closed down. It takes alot of resources and people and money to keep SF open and free for us to use. Howabout showing a little grattitude!

Re:Why shouldn't they? (0, Troll)

WildBeast (189336) | about 13 years ago | (#2212878)

hey I wasn't the one saying that closed-source is crap and all that stuff but VA Linux did and now they're doing something they dispise just to make a few bucks. I mean how low can you get?

Re:Why shouldn't they? (1)

ViceClown (39698) | about 13 years ago | (#2212967)

See... I don't really think it's low. I think it was probably a tough business decision but a necessary one. They need to find new ways of generating income. Another benefit is that it helps market the closed source version to potential customers. Companies that aren't keen on using a piece of software that's completely open can take some solace in the fact that they're buying an enhanced closed version that has some value-added features. I know it won't sit well with some folks but I think it is a good decision on VA's part. It keeps the most people happy while giving them a new revenue stream.

Repeat after me... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212871)

..."you can't make money on free software." Free/open software is a terrific way to do things like help bring computers to low-income areas and prevent companies from obtaining and abusing monopoly power, but as a business plan it stinks on ice. Even if some company like RH manages to squeak into the black in the near future (real operating profit only, please) it will be just barely, and it won't be enough to fund serious growth over the long run.

The more realistic you are about business and the way the world works (as opposed to how the open/free community wishes it worked) the more you have to wonder why VAL's stock isn't already down to about 10 cents/share and RH's isn't about a buck a share.

There is a FEE in FREE (2, Insightful)

phoey (182032) | about 13 years ago | (#2212883)

People don't realize that there is a FEE in
FREE. VA Linux is only using their right
to sell Open Source/Free software (GLP'd)
with proprietary extensions.

adding value to the product? (1)

vu13 (462742) | about 13 years ago | (#2212885)

Hopefully they'll be adding a lot of value to the product. I mean, I can get for free a product with source code I can fix, or I can pay for one that I can't.

what about a closed source version of slashdot? (1)

jas79 (196511) | about 13 years ago | (#2212890)

I can already see it.
News for lawyers. stuff that costs money.

VA linux Out of Business in A Year (2, Insightful)

quakeaddict (94195) | about 13 years ago | (#2212893)

Polish up your resumes guys,and start recruituing volunteers to help you run /..

From the article:

And VA needs a proven business model. It reported revenue of $16 million Thursday; most of its loss was from its abandonment of Linux computer sales in favor of software and services. The company said $267 million of the loss was from non-cash charges for goodwill, intangible assets and restructuring charges because of VA's departure from the computer business

ESR is still on their board, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212896)

I'd like to see his open source philosophy explanation of this.

Full Disclosure (-1, Troll)

gnugnugnu (178215) | about 13 years ago | (#2212918)

In the interest of at least pretending to have journalistic standards when printing stories like this Slashdot really should make it absolutely clear that
VA Linux is the parent company of Slashdot

Am I On MSNBC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2212919)

...SourceForge Open Edition." VA is Slashdot's corporate parent.

For a second, I thought I was reading an MSNBC article.... *Phew*

What does the rest of the world call this? (2)

gelfling (6534) | about 13 years ago | (#2212961)

Uh I think it's called version management or change control or version libs or problem-queues or something like that. At any rate since the days of Panvalet or CA-something or PVCS we've had this function. All this is a more open ended spin on it. Open ended as in less process bound not open as in (Ta-Da) OPEN. This is great VA gets to sell a product and make some money doing it. What's the big forking deal?
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