A Model of Open Source Developer Foundations

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Citation: Dirk Riehle, Sebastian Berschneider (2012) A Model of Open Source Developer Foundations. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Open Source Systems (RSS)

Download: http://dirkriehle.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Riehle-MOSDF-v12-Final-Web.pdf

Tagged: Open source (RSS), open source developer foundation (RSS), developer consortium (RSS), user foundation (RSS), user consortium (RSS), software industry (RSS)


Through iterative interviews, develops model of distinguishing features of foundations (industry consortia and public benefit nonprofits, but not single-vendor entities) that provide legal homes for free and open source software projects.

Outline of model, using slightly different terminology than authors in some cases:

  • General
    • Purpose (member or public benefit)
    • Incorporation (foundation or consortium)
    • Members (people and/or corporations)
  • Philosophy
    • Proprietary stance (allowed or not)
    • Development transparency (open or not)
  • IP
    • Project license (permissive or copyleft)
    • Patent grant (none, use, or use+embedding)
    • Ownership (distributed, centralized relicensing grant, centralized)
  • Governance
    • Board membership (member elected, meritocratic, or autocratic/self-appointed)
    • Project membership (member elected, meritocratic, or autocratic/board-appointed)
    • Member "career" (user->developer->commiter, explicit project management structure, and/or developer->board member)
    • Corporate member levels (financing and/or development resources)
  • Financing
    • Foundation (membership fees, sponsorships, gifts and grants, and/or revenues from a commercial subsidiary)
    • Projects (foundation and/or members)
  • Operations
    • Infrastructure (foundation and/or members)
    • Back office (foundation employees and/or member volunteers)

Foundations investigated in order to build model, and described by model:

Theoretical and practical relevance:

First author blogged at http://dirkriehle.com/2012/05/30/a-model-of-open-source-developer-foundations/

"Open By Rule" perhaps a complementary analysis http://webmink.com/tag/open-by-rule/

Two foundations that should be analyzed in the future, as legal hosts for many free and open source projects are the Software Freedom Conservancy and Software in the Public Interest. Wikimedia Foundation would also be interesting, as a software project host, and as a host of other open collaboration projects -- the analysis could be usefully extended to non-software hosts of open collaboration projects as well. W3C another candidate.