A day in the life of Danny D'Amours

RedHat quietly kills off its Mugshot social networking site

Created in 2006 as a way of bringing people with common interests together, Mugshot was designed by RedHat as an open source site. The intentions was to allow interaction between users using not only its own site but by plugging into other networking sites such as Facebook and del.icio.us. Mugshot included the ability to chat between users, share links, facebook updates and read RSS feeds.

Mugshot did have some innovative features such as a desktop client which allowed quick and easy access to network updates and to quickly post items or share links with your friends or interest groups.

Where did it go?

Despite some initial promise, in April of this year, the website went offline with a “Mugshot is currently not running.” message and as of earlier this May, the URLs for http://www.mugshot.org get redirected to http://www.redhat.com.
I have been unable to find any official confirmation that Mugshot has been killed and will not come back but it does not look promising.

Why did it fail?

Unfortunately Mugshot never seemed to get much traction outside of a small group of Linux (mainly RedHat) enthusiasts. Whether it was a lack of marketing or a neglect of website and network can be debated but after its initial launch period, RedHat almost seemed to ignore Mugshot perhaps hoping that organic growth could occur with open source community updating and introducing new features. Competition from Friendfeed, Twitter and Facebook may have also helped put Mugshot on the chopping block.

Another part of the reasoning behind RedHat’s apparent neglect and eventual abandonment of Mugshot is that the social network concept never seemed to fit well into its strategy to be an enterprise Linux vendor. Right from the introduction of Mugshot, there appeared to be confusion regarding why RedHat was pursuing this product.

Mugshot champions gone?

It also appears that a few of the Mugshot champions from within RedHat such as Christopher Blizzard who has moved on to the Mozilla Foundation and Havoc Pennington who is currently at litl.

In a March blog post, Havoc even mentions the validity of the concept despite the lack of success with Mugshot:

It’s gratifying that the new default home screen of Facebook looks a lot like Mugshot.org, a site some of us came up with at Red Hat. We coded Mugshot’s personal-lifestream-thingy before Facebook’s news feed came out and before FriendFeed came out. Not saying either site copied us, but it’s still nice to know at least our idea was good (even though there were lots of reasons we weren’t the ones to get anywhere with it).

What’s next for Mugshot?

As of today, the source code for Mugshot is still available at http://svn.mugshot.org/ and it appears that a fork of the Mugshot code will live on in project magnetism at: http://code.google.com/p/magnetism/. There is no indication of that a free shared Mugshot type service (like RedHat was offering) will be made available.

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May 29th, 2009 Posted by Danny D'Amours | Linux, Tech | one comment

1 Comment »

  1. Very well written article but I would like to point out that in actuality the http://perssonas.com site is a free site for consumers and it will stay that way.

    Our business plan enables revenue through a B2C model surrounding entertainment and brand and in no way impact the consumer facing site.

    Please feel free to come on over and join. Right now things will feel very similar to a standard Mugshot install but that is going to change in short order with additional UI and service enhancements coming.

    I hope you continue to support this project by becoming a perssonas user, as well as a community contributor to the Magnetism code base.

    Comment by Jerry Schuman | June 9, 2009

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