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Dedication and Disagreements

As I’ve mentioned in many of my talks about the Wireshark project, our primary goal is to help as many people as possible understand their networks as much as possible. We’ve been very fortunate over the years in this regard. Many people are passionate about this goal and have dedicated themselves to help to work toward it.

Although a group of people might agree about a particular goal, they can sometimes disagree about how to get there. When you add in personal dedication and investment, the disagreement can take on a life of its own. This happened to us recently.

Years ago when I worked at CACE Technologies we created the Wireshark Foundation1. A couple of years later, Laura Chappell came up with the idea for Wireshark University and the WCNA certification program. She worked out an agreement with CACE’s CEO to license use of Wireshark’s trademarks which they subsequently signed.

Shortly after that, Riverbed acquired CACE, along with the Wireshark Foundation. Like CACE, Riverbed has been both supportive of the project and hands-off. They pay my salary, fund SharkFest and our infrastructure, and have done so since the acquisition. We always strive to do more, and last fall it was suggested that we might be able to bring in extra money to fund more initiatives which would improve Wireshark and benefit the community.

One of the ideas for extra revenue involved restructuring Wireshark University in the hopes of including more educators. We presented the plan to Laura, and it didn’t go well. Our relationship deteriorated to the extent that Laura now maintains that Riverbed has taken over Wireshark. I love and respect her and will be forever grateful for what she’s done for the Wireshark community, but I strongly disagree with this viewpoint.

Riverbed has and continues to be very hands-off with Wireshark and is dedicated to our independence. They don’t dictate our roadmap or otherwise try to push us in a particular direction2. In my keynote3 at SharkFest ’19 US, I talked about creating an independent entity for the Wireshark Foundation and our assets, and they’ve been supportive of the entire process.

Going Forward

Although we weren’t able to come to an agreement on Wireshark University, there was never any question that Laura is welcome to keep using the Wireshark trademark to describe the purpose of her training courses, books, and the WCNA certification program. I would personally prefer that she continue to use the name “Wireshark Certified Network Analyst” รขโ‚ฌโ€ we would just need to have a proper agreement in place. If any of this wasn’t made clear to her over the past few months then that’s on me.

Please don’t let this dissuade you from buying Laura’s books, attending her classes, or going through the WCNA program. She’s a great educator and we share her passion for helping people understand their networks.

Also please be assured that Wireshark is and will always remain Free and Open Source Software. I am forever grateful to our global group of enthusiastic developers who continue to evolve the project. However, stuff costs money, and some of the initiatives we’ve discussed include (but aren’t limited to) hiring support staff. In order to serve the user and developer community and fund the project we must explore options such as charging for non-exclusive use of the Wireshark University trademark.

[1] I don’t recall the precise reason, but it was most likely to reduce CACE’s exposure in the event that I left the picture. They were betting the farm on Wireshark. It should be noted that my daughter and I were on Southwest flight 812, so this wasn’t an unreasonable concern.
[2] Aside from the occasional bug report from one of my co-workers. ๐Ÿ™‚
[3] See the “Sustainability” the keynote at, about 36:15 in.