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Here's Our View of Things

After reading an article by Josh Hadro on LibraryJournal.com we posted this reply and wanted to share it with you all here:

Since the release of Enterprise Koha, ByWater Solutions has done its best to stay neutral with the hopes that a quickly deteriorating situation would eventually turn around for the better. We held this hope not for the sake of the Koha community, for its stability is not under question, but for a fellow support vendor that seemed to be going through somewhat of an identity crisis. Unfortunately for all involved, this vendor chose a path that has stirred up much controversy, mainly surrounding the fact that their version of our community software is no longer open source. Some say it is; most say it is not. The very simple question we pose is this: Can one obtain Enterprise Koha without paying a vendor to install and support it. If the answer is no, then the software is very clearly and undeniably proprietary; and those who use it are a victims of vendor lock in. Unfortunately many of these customers chose Koha to avoid exactly that.

Regardless of the fundamental wrongs surrounding this idea, ByWater Solutions has seen it as inevitable growing pains for a developing software community and has continued with business as usual. However, there is one trend we are beginning to see that has inspired the writing of this post, and that is the growing vilification of the community and the martyrdom of the vendor who has left it. We have been recently compared to religious extremists, hell bent on banishing anyone who is less than pure from our rigid society. This is an unjust picture to be painting because in actuality, we are comprised of very passionate people, some of whom have poured their heart and soul into this project in many cases without compensation.

We think it is important when reporting on a topic such as this that elicits such strong emotions to research all areas surrounding it. An important fact not yet discussed is that the developers of Koha are not the only ones having issues with Koha being forked. Customers of the company that has forked the code are also feeling the pain. Many customers are furious that they are not getting what they signed on for and are having a hard time getting the patches they want implemented in their systems. In one instance, a customer was taken off of the company’s user list for voicing their concerns about the numerous “process changes‚Äù even though they were still under contract with the company.

The recent change in policies and participation from this vendor has prompted us to make it clear to librarians that ByWater Solutions is in complete alignment with the true ideas and values of open source. Open source is about so much more than the source code and the license; it is about the community around it. It is for this reason that the community is in an uproar. It is a real shame this major contributor has pulled away from all community participation, communication and general niceties, but thanks to the community model we will only grow stronger from these growing pains. That being said, ByWater Solutions will continue to contribute 100% of their development, continue to participate in as many community activities, meetings, and day to day chats, and continue to deliver the best service to those seeking support from a company that has built its business model around our customer’s and the community’s needs.

Read more by Nathan Curulla

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