Open Source Groupware: Not Really Open

I noticed an article in Slashdot today, promoting the fact that Comcast is moving to Zimbra, an “open source” groupware product designed to compete with Microsoft’s exchange.

I spent a decent chunk of time evaluating “open source” groupware optionsa few months ago. None of the major “open source” groupware options are truly open source. Both Zimbra and Scalix are a category of software I like to describe as “dual source.” The bulk of the code for both products is released under a software license that is semi open-source. Any of the juicy features that make the product interesting are proprietary.

If you want to use any of the additional features, a per-seat license is needed. How is that exactly open? “Dual Source” products might as well be proprietary in my book. With “open source” licensing designed to prevent anyone from actually using the code in a real product, and restrictive licensing for the real enterprise ready product, what is the real benefit of the source release?

For me, real open source is not the partial release of code under a restrictive license. Real open source is where the open source code, and the enterprise product, are one in same. No handcuffs, no restrictions, just freedom.