Split personalities

Working inside a company that is backing an open source project poses a interesting challege for those who really believe in open source: sometimes you need to take two different perspectives on a situation.

As an employee of Sun, there's no question about what I want to see as the outcome from the OpenSolaris project, but sometimes this is at at odds with what I want from OpenSolaris as an open source community member, where my goals and expectations are much more idealistic. That isn't to say there is anything necessarily wrong with one or the other, just that the goals aren't (and can't) always be aligned.

At what point does having a leg in both camps represent a conflict of interest between the two legs and how do I not end up being torn in two? Do I remove a leg from one camp? Or try and bring both into alignment? Or just give in and wind up crazy?

One element that is becoming increasingly clear is that interacting with the OpenSolaris community using an @sun.com email address, carries a burden that in some instances is too heavy to wear and can quite possibly impede the interaction I'd like to have with the community.

How do other people manage this type of situation?

  • Just give up on trying to be in both places, adopt one and withdraw from the other?
  • Construct boundaries around the amount/style of interaction with one?
  • Or do you never find yourself in such a position because you never see conflicts of interest?
  • Does anyone know how people that work on Linux for IBM (or others) fare in this situation?

Thoughts welcome.

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