Web 2.0: Yuuguu Contemplates Open Source - InformationWeek

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Government // Enterprise Architecture
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9/18/2008
10:00 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Web 2.0: Yuuguu Contemplates Open Source

In the "Long Tail Pavilion" (bad name, interesting people) at the Web 2.0 Expo, one of the companies I took time out to speak with was Yuuguu, which makes an online-meeting system that works across Linux, Windows, and Mac equally. Are they open source? No, but they use a lot of it. Will they be open source someday? Mmmmaybe.

In the "Long Tail Pavilion" (bad name, interesting people) at the Web 2.0 Expo, one of the companies I took time out to speak with was Yuuguu, which makes an online-meeting system that works across Linux, Windows, and Mac equally. Are they open source? No, but they use a lot of it. Will they be open source someday? Mmmmaybe.

It's an echo of a conversation I have had a number of times during the show, but the version of it I had with Yuuguu was probably the most productive. For one, they're actively thinking about opening up at least some of the things they have -- namely, their client software -- and making it possible for people to write their own front-ends for their service in the process.

My feeling is that if Yuuguu did that, it would be a boon: release the client freely in every sense of the word, and allow people to use it in ways that surprise even them. I gave them an example right off the top of my head: since a big part of Yuuguu is a chat client, how about a Yuuguu plugin for the Pidgin or Miranda multiprotocol instant messenger clients? That's what they're designed for; why not leverage their work?

At least some of this thinking seems to have been spurred by the fact that they have Linux clients for three major distributions: Ubuntu, Fedora, and SUSE. It's something that I quickly find is becoming an old saw: If you run on top of Linux, what is the level of obligation you have to be open source?

I don't think there's an automatic obligation for software written on Linux to be open source. Emphasis on the "I": that's what I believe, and if Linux goes mainstream that doesn't automatically imply that open source will follow suit to the same degree.

This is something that those who stump for open source will simply have to accept as a corollary of one of their most successful projects becoming a near-household name. They can still certainly put pressure on others -- like Yuuguu -- to release some of what they do as open source, but the pressure should always be polite and well-motivated.

Some of the other companies I talked with didn't think that opening up their software would matter -- that as long as they offered open APIs to everything they were doing, it would satisfy a good chunk of the people who come to them. They are probably right; the remaining percentage of people would simply go to something that was more open and that would be that.

Such a movement itself would be a form of pressure. And if what you're doing consists primarily of a service, then the level of obligation you have to open things up is entirely yours -- just as your customers reserve the right to go somewhere else if they want something more. Not everyone wants the whole code tamale, but it's nice to know there will be people you can go to to get it.

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