Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Open source hits back

When open source / free model hurts you

After a couple of baby steps into the open source world, instead of a nice welcome it just hit me in the face.

I started using Protobuf serialization format for my open source MapReduce framework, and turned out there is a quite good open source/free implementation for the .NET platform, called Protobuf.NET

After the initial steps, I realized that there are some performance issues with it, so I fixed the code and contacted the author (Marc Gravell) that he had a problem and I had a solution.

I though (naively) that he’ll be happy as there is no new version from the software since mid 2011.

His reply:
“It sounds to me like you are doing something wrong here …”

Definitely, trying to help you mate. Anyway, even the situation was a little embarrassing, I showed him the source, supporting that he’s really got a problem and not my fault that it’s slow.

The second reply:
“.…is a known case that needs tuning…”

Erm… yepp, and I’ve just tuned it. Apparently he was not even interested in the changes I made.

Realizing the hard way that open source/free software is not that much fun as many of us think, I would simply not recommend using any such framework or software for projects where reliability and sustainability is an issue – basically any projects that pay our bills…

(although there are a few nicely written and supported solutions out there - help them, donate them if you want to rely on their work!)