[Snort-users] Re: [Snort-devel] Re: RFC: Forking Snort

Martin Roesch roesch at ...1935...
Wed Jul 3 14:19:04 EDT 2002

On 7/2/02 3:15 PM, "Matt Jonkman" <matt at ...4024...> wrote:

> Same sentiment. I don't necessarily think all the original issues mentioned
> are true, but I feel it would be more beneficial for the future development
> to have more maintainers, and a more committee-based direction. My
> organization has a few times (and this is no fault of or negative reflection
> on Marty)  tried to contribute significant ideas, or significant chunks of
> code (Oracle support for example), and Marty wasn't able to respond.

Which organization is that?

> Only by
> a little persistence and bullying were we able to get the code we are using
> back out to the community at large. I know he's not able to respond because
> of the load and enterprises he's managing now. So the natural step would be
> to get a few more people at the top to handle new code, the future, and the
> plugins.

I don't maintain the database plugin, I've never maintained the database
plugin, why would I be the point of contact for future database plugin
contributions?  I probably dropped it immediately because it was improperly
submitted to the wrong person (me) and you didn't read far enough into the
docs to see that Jed/Roman are the guys that develop the database code in

The suggestion that development by committee might somehow improve the odds
of your code getting into the system when it's sent to a single developer
(and the wrong one as well) doesn't solve the problem of people needing to
use the existing development *group* more successfully.  Do you think Linus
would have any different response over on the Linux project with improperly
submitted code?

> I'm a big believer in the plugins. If you find a bad one don't use it. That
> gives you the ability to add whatever you need without impacting the entire
> community. I'm in a vertical market and could really contribute a few things
> we've learned about our industry, but they won't fit into rules. We need a
> plugin to do do things well. (We haven't developed anything yet, but could
> if that avenue were there)
> Marty should be devoting all his time and effort to the commercial efforts.
> That's what is going to feed his family (whether that's a family of humans
> or just hungry computers) and pay his bills and fill that retirement fund.

I'll decide how to distribute my time myself, thank you.  Paying my bills is
directly related to the quality of Snort now, take the next few logical
steps to understand what this means in terms of Snort's quality and
capabilities.  Combine that with my commitment to keeping Snort open source
and I think this whole notion of forking "for the good of the people" to be
a false premise. 

> Whether we need an apache-style board, simply a few more maintainers, or
> start an open-source democracy I'm not sure. I think a tweak of the current
> model is in order though.

We've got 3 primary coders (Andrew, Chris and myself), several contributers
(Dragos, Jeff Nathan, Fyodor, Chris Reid, etc) and 600+ people on
snort-devel, I think that's plenty of people to talk to.  If the code is
vetted and accepted by the people who's opinions I trust, that's the express
lane to getting code into the system.  I get a lot of patches and
contributions otherwise and only review what immediately piques my interest
or what I can get to.


> Matt
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jesse W. Asher" <jasher1 at ...1179...>
> To: "Jed Pickel" <jed at ...153...>
> Cc: <snort-users at lists.sourceforge.net>;
> <snort-devel at lists.sourceforge.net>; <focus-ids at ...35...>
> Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2002 12:16 PM
> Subject: [Snort-devel] Re: RFC: Forking Snort
>> Although I'm not sure I agree with all your observations, I definitely
>> agree and support the drive to separate the commercial product from the
>> open source product.  As you say, these are at odds.  Snort is
>> successful because of its open source roots and it would be a shame to
>> see that mentality abandoned.
>> Jed Pickel wrote:
>>> This document is intended to gauge the interest of the Snort community
>>> in creating a fork of Snort that is governed by a consortium (similar to
>>> Apache's "Apache Software Foundation") rather than a single profit
>>> driven corporate entity. Below I will provide some background as to why
>>> I am bringing this up. There are advantages and disadvantages to this
>>> from nearly every perspective; thus, I encourage comments and discussion
>>> of all opinions.
>>> Snort has come to a critical point in its evolution. Due to the hard
>>> work from numerous developers and thousands of users, Snort is now
>>> monitoring many of the worlds most sensitive networks. Also, a growing
>>> number of companies are offering commercial solutions based on Snort and
>>> standardization efforts have leveraged Snort as a conduit toward
>>> furthering security standards. As a result, the number of Snort users
>>> continues to grow as it becomes more commercially accepted.
>>> Few would disagree that Snort has successfully become a "killer app".
>>> The challenge Snort now faces is how to avoid becoming a victim of its
>>> own success. Apache is an example of open source code that has
>>> successfully bridged the gap from killer app to significant piece of
>>> Internet Infrastructure. This success can be attributed to governing and
>>> regulating Apaches growth through a consortium. I believe Snort could
>>> benefit from the same type of arrangement.
>>> Unfortunately, the forces that have brought Snort this level of success
>>> are falling out of balance. With Marty at the helm of both a wildly
>>> successfully open source project and Sourcefire (a growing, soon to be
>>> 800 pound gorilla in the intrusion detection market) he is faced with
>>> answering to a board of directors on one hand and the security community
>>> on the other. These are opposing forces with dramatically different
>>> goals. It is simply not possible for a single person to serve both of
>>> these roles and act in the best interest of each.
>>> While the number of users of Snort is growing, the percentage of
>>> community contributed code is decreasing. The reasons for this are not
>>> immediately obvious. Although there is plenty of community interest in
>>> contributing code, these interests are aparently in conflict with the
>>> goals of Sourcefire. Thus, some contributions have had been subjected to
>>> stealth deletions, others have never been incorporated in the codebase
>>> or have been re-written by Sourcefire to be more accommodating toward
>>> their goals.
>>> The most successful of the contributed code has been subjected to
>>> consistent negative and inflammatory PR campaigns. Marty carries this
>>> out this by proclaiming to the community false and misleading statements
>>> such as --- "Many of the contributed plugins, Marty says, 'were
>>> bug-filled, crashy, and slowed things down.'"[1] This tactic began to
>>> manifest in an unhealthy way a little over a year ago, shortly after
>>> Sourcefire was getting started.
>>> One can only speculate the strategy of Sourcefire in the long run;
>>> however, it would be foolish to think the goals of Sourcefire do not
>>> include maximizing profits. I have plenty of respect for Marty and I
>>> believe he has the best of intentions; however, he is no longer the man
>>> with the final say at Sourcefire. The investors of Sourcefire now
>>> control the critical strategies and goals of the company. There will
>>> undoubtedly and understandably be pressure from Sourcefire investors to
>>> gain more control of Snort while creating barriers to entry and stifling
>>> the competition.
>>> There are a vast number of Snort add ons and wrappers (both open source
>>> and proprietary) that lead me to believe Snort is on the track toward
>>> becoming something of an operating system of intrusion detection that
>>> forms a base for numerous applications and business to grow and
>>> flourish. I would like to see an environment of healthy competition in
>>> this market to benefit the consumer, security community, and provide the
>>> opportunity for independent developers and business to find some niche
>>> and profit from their work.
>>> These are the reasons why I believe now is the time for the community to
>>> begin discussing forming a branch of Snort that is governed by a
>>> consortium that is not profit driven, but rather exists to support the
>>> best interests of the community and support healthy competition among
>>> all of the companies that are providing Snort based security solutions.
>>> This is a sensitive topic, but I believe the time has come to surface
>>> it. I'd like to hear your opinion... Is now the right time to begin
>>> considering a fork or branch or Snort? What benefits or advantages would
>>> this create for end users, business that use Snort, business that
>>> provide products or services based on Snort, or the security community
>>> as a whole? If a consortium were formed for governing a new fork of
>>> Snort who or what businesses, organizations, or individuals should that
>>> involve?
>>> All comments, flames, and opinions are welcome. The sole intention of
>>> this message is to initiate discussion.
>>> Regards,
>>> * Jed
>>> References
>>> -----------------------------------------
>>> [1] http://newsforge.com/newsforge/02/06/29/2127239.shtml?tid=3
>> --
>> Jesse W. Asher
>> "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary
>> safety, deserve neither liberty or safety."  - Benjamin Franklin
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Martin Roesch - Founder/CTO, Sourcefire Inc. - (410)290-1616
Sourcefire: Professional Snort Sensor and Management Console appliances
roesch at ...1935... - http://www.sourcefire.com
Snort: Open Source Network IDS - http://www.snort.org

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