Almost everyone has probably read about Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo. I stopped using Yahoo products long ago, but started up again once they bought ones I used like Upcoming and Flickr.

Another Yahoo product I’ve looked into is Zimbra, a partially open-source collaboration suite which has taken off in recent years. It offers a replacement to Microsoft Exchange with the ability of Outlook and iSync to seamlessly use the calendaring, etc (with installed commercial addon). With quite a few businesses and universities using Zimbra, it looked like a promising product.

Obviously the buyout by Microsoft could mean the death of the commercial version. The interesting discussion was regarding whether the open source part of the product could be forked under the licenses the part is under. The debate regarding GPL versus everything else turned into almost mouth foaming. Still, it was interesting to see the concerns various people had when it seems like many fear open source projects that don’t have a commercial version/option. Many are calling for the commercial code to be put into a escrow that will be released under GPL if the commercial support for the product is pulled or the company bought out. Others hope yahoo spins it off or sells it prior to a takeover. Most didn’t seem to like the alternative of Scalix. You can see some of the debates here:

Most of the library open-source ILS projects don’t seem to be in this area. They tend to sell support or custom implementations. The problem seems to occur when the companies start selling the more important features or features that set them apart as commercial. Email? Sure. Exchange replacement? Extra. I don’t see LibLime or Equinox going the route of building pieces that libraries request as only commercial. From what I’ve heard LibLime requires all custom work for libraries to be GPL’d. I could potentially see other vendors like Innovative, SirsiDynix or OCLC releasing part of a product under GPL while keeping the parts libraries actually want closed source. Whether that’s a model you want probably depends on what your looking for, but the yahoo debate should show that you may need to look closely on what they really mean by “open”.