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Insight from members of The Apache Software Foundation (ASF). Apache powers half the Internet, petabytes of data, teraflops of operations, billions of objects, and enhances the lives of countless users and developers. Established in 1999 to shepherd, develop, and incubate Open Source innovations "The Apache Way", the ASF oversees 150+ projects led by a volunteer community of over 350 individual Members and 3,000 Committers across six continents. Notable Apache projects include Hadoop, Lucene/Solr, OpenOffice.org, Tomcat, and the flagship Apache HTTP Server, which powers more than 326 million Websites across the globe. From enterprise Open Source adoption, industry trends, emerging innovations, and developer and community management issues, the opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual authors and do not represent the official position of the ASF.

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Apache: lean and mean, durable, fun

The turbocharged Diesel of Open Source?

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My current Fiat Punto Sport is the second Diesel car that I own, and I love those engines. Very smooth yet quite powerful acceleration, good fuel savings, a discount on state taxes thanks to low pollution, and it's very reliable and durable. And fun to drive. How often does Grandma go "wow" when you put the throttle down in your car? That happens here, and that Grandma is not usually a car freak.

Diesel engines used to be boring, but they have made incredible progress in the last few years - while staying true to their basic principles of simplicity, robustness and reliability.

The recent noise about the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) moving to Git, or not, made me think that the ASF might well be the (turbocharged, like my car) Diesel engine of open source. And that might be a good thing.

The ASF's best practices are geared towards project sustainability, and building communities around our projects. That might not be as flashy as creating a cool new project in three days, but sometimes you need to build something durable, and you need to be able to provide your users with some reassurances that that will be the case - or that they can take over cleanly if not.

In a similar way to a high tech Diesel engine that's built to last and operate smoothly, I think the ASF is well suited for projects that have a long term vision. We often encourage projects that want to join the ASF via its Incubator to first create a small community and release some initial code, at some other place, before joining the Foundation. That's one way to help those projects prove that they are doing something viable, and it's also clearly faster to get some people together and just commit some code to one of the many available code sharing services, than following the ASF's rules for releases, voting etc.

A Japanese 4-cylinder 600cc gasoline-powered sports bike might be more exciting than my Punto on a closed track, but I don't like driving those in day-to-day traffic or on long trips. Too brutal, requires way too much attention. There's space for both that and my car’s high tech Diesel engine, and I like both styles actually, depending on the context.

Open Source communities are not one-size-fits-all: there's space for different types of communities, and by exposing each community's positive aspects, instead of trying to get them to fight each other, we might just grow the collective pie and live happily ever after (there's a not-so-hidden message to sensationalistic bloggers in that last paragraph).

I'm very happy with the ASF being the turbocharged Diesel engine of Open Source - it does have to stay on its toes to make sure it doesn't turn into a boring old-style Diesel, but there's no need to rush evolution. There's space for different styles.

Posted by Bertrand Delacretaz

Bertrand Delacretaz works as a Senior Developer in the Enterprise R&D team of Adobe Systems Inc (www.day.com), using Open Source tools to create world-class content management systems and frameworks. Bertrand is an active member and current director of the Apache Software Foundation, involved in a number of Apache projects as a committer, PMC member and incubation mentor.

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