So farewell then, Andover.net...
Andover.net owner VA Linux Systems today announced what it's calling the Open Source Development Network (OSDN) - essentially a content syndication service that integrates all the Web sites bought by Andover.net and later snapped up by VA along with other VA acquisitions.
The plan is that OSDN will become VA's Linux-oriented portal, unifying the various development and content sites it now owns and allowing VA to capitalise - through ad revenue, collation of demographic data, etc. - on the acquisitions it has made over the last year or so.
OSDN will offer a single front end to the likes of Slashdot, Freshmeat, QuestionExchange, Themes.org and SourceForge. The sites themselves will undoubtedly continue as they are, but this latest move does seem to be about treating them essentially as content feeds that will pour into a single outlet under VA's control. E-mail and instant messaging services will be added to the mix at a later date.
We note that "continuing in the tradition of sites such as Slashdot and Linux.com, the individual web sites that comprise OSDN will [or else?] insist on maintaining editorial independence and integrity".
OSDN is to the open source/Linux world what AvantGo is to the mobile data arena, AOL is to the consumer market and, tellingly, what MSN is to the Windows world - a portal that provides users with content and shares ad revenue derived from those users with the providers of that content. But since VA owns the content providers, in this case, it gets to keep the lot.
As VA itself says, it wants OSDN to become the "leading Linux and Open Source destination on the Internet". And with a claimed "80 million page impressions" read by "three million users each month", OSDN clearly offers a pretty good sell to the ads guys.
Ultimately, VA is out to own open source on the Web - not the software, of course, but the mechanism developers use to create it - and that's a very powerful tool indeed for the commercial exploitation of the open source community. VA will effectively become a media company, owning the medium, through which collaborative open source development work is achieved.
And presumably this is the end of Andover.net as an entity - at least, VA's release on the subject describes its sites as "formerly under the umbrella of Andover.Net" [our italics]. ®