This page is a list of projects and descriptions of the governance model they use. This list is not exhaustive nor is it intended to be evaluative. You are free to enter your own project details here, but it must use the following format, you must provide factual information that is of value to people interested in exploring existing open source business models and you must keep the list in strict alphabetic order.

The examples in this page are summaries of how projects are organised.

See also our document describing the importance of having a GovernanceModel and our template governance models such as BenevolentDictatorGovernanceModel and MeritocraticGovernanceModel.

Name

The project name

Description

A brief description of project

URL

A link to the projects home page.

Governance Model

A brief description of governance model.

Motivating factors

What factors about the project are seen as key to the choice of governance model.

Links

Links to more detailed information on the governance of the project

The Projects

Name

Apache Software Foundation

Description

Not really a project, but a foundation consisting of multiple projects, each run in a very similar way

URL

http://www.apache.org

Governance Model

Apache Software Foundation projects have a meritocratic governance model. Decisions are made by gaining community consensus, all community members are encouraged to participate in the decision making process. Where community consensus cannot be achieved or when there needs to be explicit approval for an action a vote can be called. "Committers" have binding votes. Committers are people who have been acknowledged by their fellow community members as understanding the needs of the project and have shown the willingness to participate in some aspect of community, documentation or code development.

Motivating factors

Apache Software Foundation projects are licensed under the Apache License, an extremely permissive licence that allows the software to be relicensed in any way, including with closed source licences. This encourages businesses selling software products to use the software outputs, however, there is no legal requirement for those companies to contribute directly to the project. The meritocratic governance model transfers "control" of the project to those who actively contribute back to the project. Consequently, businesses that depend on Apache projects as part of their business model and expend resources on development relating to those projects are rewarded for participation by giving them direct access to the source code, thus reducing their staff overhead in participating with development.

Links

http://www.apache.org/foundation/how-it-works.html

Name

Codehaus

Description

Codehaus is a project repository with a strong emphasis on Java, focussed on quality components that meet real world needs. All software found within Codehaus is under a licence that allows relicensing within closed environments, that is licences such as the BSD, X11 and the Apache License.

URL

http://codehaus.org/

Governance Model

Codehaus attempts to minimise the bureaucracy surrounding project management. It recognises that some committers, based upon metrics, longevity and appointed management, have greater say on a project than others. Codehaus projects typically attempt to find a balance between the Apache Software Foundations meritocratic approach and the Linux Kernels Benevolent Dictator model. There is a strict hierarchy for decision making, in case of disagreement, "Bob The Despot" is right (Bob McWhirter was the founder of Codehaus). The Codehaus places a high bar on entry for committers and for projects themselves.

Motivating factors

Codehaus originally grew from a small number of projects hosted within a single commercial organisation. Codehaus was created to allow for a neutral environment for non-staff members to host their projects. The mix between

Links

http://codehaus.org/FAQ

Name

The Eclipse Foundation

Description

Eclipse is an open source community whose projects are focused on building an open development platform comprised of extensible frameworks, tools and runtimes for building, deploying and managing software across the lifecycle. A large and vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors, innovative start-ups, universities, research institutions and individuals extend, complement and support the Eclipse platform.

URL

http://www.eclipse.org/

Governance Model

Eclipse is a not for profit organisation that is tasked with facilitating collaboration between potentially competing commercial organisations. Eclipse has a corporate membership model that has resources (16 full-time staff) to help proactively foster collaboration. The Foundation and the Eclipse governance model ensures no single entity is able to control the strategy, policies or operations of the Eclipse community. Anyone can become a committer through a process of meritocracy, any committer can become a member and any member can be elected onto the board.

Motivating factors

"The interesting wrinkle about Eclipse from a business perspective is that it's in our DNA to care deeply about commercial adoption of the technology. It's not a side effect of what we do - it is what we do... We've come up with a way to help multiple companies - including direct competitors - to work together on a level playing field to build next-generation platforms and then compete with the applications they build on top of this platform. In other words, they use Eclipse to collaborate on a platform and then compete on the products that run on the platform." - Mike Milkovich, Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation

Links

Membership types Development process

Name

Exim

Description

Exim is a mail transport agent (MTA); it delivers email

URL

http://www.exim.org/

Governance Model

Exim is has benevolent dictatorship governance model headed by Philip Hazel and his employer University of Cambridge Computing Service. Philip is employed to work on Exim full time and is the main developer. Volunteers do many supporting roles (run the website, submit bug reports, create and submit patches, etc) in either own time or that of their employer.

Motivating factors

Exim was written to address a specific need in the institution which Philip resolved with Exim. MTAs are invisible to non-techies, so all members of the community are techies and potentially developers capable of debugging and patching the software. Exim continues to enjoy the support of Cambridge.

Links

http://www.oss-watch.ac.uk/resources/cs-exim.xml

Name

FreeBSD

Description

FreeBSD is a Unix like open source operating system. It is largely binary compatible with Linux.

URL

http://www.freebsd.org/

Governance Model

An nine member FreeBSD Core Team is selected (via a vote) every two years, they are responsible for overall project direction, setting and enforcing project rules, and approving new "commit bits", or the granting of CVS commit access. They are also responsible for assigning key responsibilities to support teams including responsibility for security advisories (the Security Officer Team), release engineering (the Release Engineering Team), and managing the ports collection (the Port Manager team).

Motivating factors

The Free BSD license allows closed derivatives of the source to be produced. Consequently companies such as Apple use it as a key component in their software armoury. Such companies need to be certain that they can influence the direction of the project, whilst the project must ensure that no single company can railroad the project in a ny particular direction. An elected core team strike a good balance between full community control and a benevolent dictator.

Links

http://www.freebsdfoundation.org/about.shtml

Name

JBoss

Description

Java middleware

URL

http://www.jboss.org

Governance Model

JBoss is a project owned by Red Hat Inc. to develop open source middleware tools in Java. JBoss consists of a number of individual middleware applications, each of which constitutes a project. A project is run by a lead developer, who is always an employee of Red Hat, and who has ultimate control over the project, including over the future direction of the project and over the granting of commit rights to other members. Below the project leader are developers, which in this system refers to one of the core contributors to the project: these individuals have rights to commit changes to the project repository, and may be Red Hat employees or outsiders. Finally, other people may contribute by submitting patches for consideration by a member of the project with commit rights; a person with a track record of contributions may be offered commit rights.

Motivating factors

"JBoss projects are developed in open source in order to benefit from the high level of innovation and extensive testing provided by online communities. We have chosen the business-friendly LGPL as our main license to ensure that you can safely use them to develop and deploy applications whilst keeping your source code private. You may even keep changes made to the JBoss project source code private as long as you do not distribute the resulting binaries." (About JBoss)

Links

http://www.jboss.org/community/governanceModel.html

Name

Linux Kernel

Description

Linux is an POSIX-compliant operating system

URL

http://www.kernel.org/

Governance Model

Linux has a strictly hierarchical benevolent dictatorship governance model headed by Linus Torvalds. Stable releases and key internal subsystems are maintained by developers personally trusted by Linus (Alan Cox, Marcelo Tosatti, etc). Individual device drivers are maintained by developers with access to the particular hardware changes and updates go through the trusted developers to Linus who has the final say on everything in the current kernel. All communication is via the Linux kernel mailing list.

Motivating factors

Linus Torvalds was the project initiator and has worked continuously on the project since it's inception. A number of commercial companies have proved willing to pay core developers to work full time on the kernel, either to improve the performance of Linux on their hardware or to improve Linux as a competitive tool for them in the marketplace. The vast array of physical hardware (and combinations of hardware) mean that a small group of developers will never have access to all of it, forcing much of the device driver development and testing to be carried out to developers who do have access to the particular hardware.

Links

BusinessWeek interview with Linus on his role in Linux

Name

Kuali

Description

Administrative software for higher education institutions

URL

http://www.kuali.org/

Governance Model

Kuali is a joint project between around 20 universities and colleges to develop administrative software for educational institutions. Although the software itself is made available under an open source license, participation in development is contingent upon paid membership of the project; the development work is actually done by staff of the member institutions, and the member institutions may also pledge specific financial support for parts of the project. Kuali call this a "community source model". Membership cost depends on the type and size of an institution, and is between $4,500 and $24,500 annually. A second category of membership, for commercial organisations, is also available, under similar terms.

The Kuali Foundation, which is the legal entity representing the project, is run by an 11-member board of directors; this board has ultimate control over the whole project. Members get the right to vote for members of the board, thus exercising influence. Beneath that, the project is split into four main "communities", each working on one area of the software. In general, each community will have its own overseeing board and council, some individuals who do project management, and then a large body of developers; these people are drawn from the member institutions. Providing staff to work on the project is the other way in which member institutions can exercise influence on the project. (Organisation charts for the Kuali Financial Systems community; Organisation charts for the Kuali Research Administration community)

Some of the communities differ slightly, however. One community, producing middleware software, has only 9 core members, with an additional 9 occasional contributors from other Kuali communities; also, it has no board or council - just a project manager (About the Kuali Rice team). Another, producing software to manage student data, seems to impose minimum contribution and participation levels on its members, apparently above the cost of joining the Kuali foundation (Participating in the Kuali Student community). Finally, the Kuali Financial Systems community seem to have required their founder members to make specific pledges of financial support to that particular community (KFS partners).

Motivating factors

"Community source describes a model for the purposeful coordinating of work in a community. It is based on many of the principles of open source development efforts, but community source efforts rely more explicitly on defined roles, responsibilities, and funded commitments by community members than some open source development models." (Kuali FAQ)

Further, "Shared resources means more efficient development – this is a huge benefit over a single university building a system in-house" and "Contributing institutions have direct input into functions and features – unlike off-the-shelf software that must be taken as is with little or no customization." (Kuali Student's development approach)

Links

Kuali Foundation About the foundation Kuali Student community page about their development approach

Name

Moodle

Description

Moodle is a learning environment with a social constructivist approach

URL

http://www.moodle.org

Governance Model

Moodle has benevolent dictatorship governance model headed by Martin Dougiamas. A trust controls the use of the Moodle trademarks and collects revenues from licensed users of the trademarks to support the on going development of the project. Project modules are maintained by developers who may or may not be financially connected to Martin and the trust. A vibrant user-community does requirements gathering, bug reporting and triaging, localisation, documentation writing, event hosting and makes non-development contributions. Most significant communication is on the moodle.org site

Motivating factors

Martin Dougiamas was the project initiator. Social constructivism explicitly encourages people to build things (software, documents, etc) together. Many of the users interested in supporting and promoting Moodle are non-techies because the need Moodle meets arises primarily out of pedadogical concerns rather than technical ones: this means that most (potential) contributors are non-developers.

Links

http://www.oss-watch.ac.uk/resources/cs-moodle.xml http://fm.schmoller.net/2006/07/spotlight_on_mo.html

Name

Mozilla

Description

Mozilla develop open source Web and e-mail software

URL

http://www.mozilla.org

Governance Model

Mozilla consists of a foundation, run by a small board of directors. The actual development activities are undertaken by a wholly-owned subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation. Overall control rests with the full staff members (currently 6), who make decisions affecting the whole project, and who may speak and act on behalf of the organisation. There is no hierarchy amongst the full staff members, but some members are deferred to in their specific areas of expertise. The full staff members are aided by associate staff members (currently 7), who do not themselves have any power. Full staff members delegate control of specific aspects of the project to three subordinate groups. Drivers manage the releases of the software, helping direct bug-fixing activities towards the goals for a release, and deciding what patches are appropriate to be included in a release. Module owners manage the development of parts of the software: they manage and approve changes to their module, and the co-ordination with the rest of the project; they may also delegate some of this work to "peers", and must nominate a peer to review their own changes. Module owners have been chosen by staff; in future, this will be done by a group of module owner overseers. Bugzilla Component Owners receive bug reports for particular areas of the software, and manage the progress of those reports to resolution.

Motivating factors

"The Mozilla project is a global community of people who believe that openness, innovation, and opportunity are key to the continued health of the Internet. We have worked together since 1998 to ensure that the Internet is developed in a way that benefits everyone. We are best known for creating the Mozilla Firefox web browser."

Links

http://www.mozilla.org/about/staff

Name

Debian

Description

Linux distribution and community.

URL

http://www.debian.org/

Governance Model

The hierarchy in Debian was intended to be mostly flat. All the members of the Debian organisation, called Debian Developers, have the same rights (with a few exceptions). Developers join Debian through a convoluted process of interview (including technical and philosophical aspects), GPG keysignings and apprenticeship. Candidates need aslo an advocate inside the organization to recommend them.

The reason for this strict procedure lies in Debian packages being installed in computers with root privileges. Packages may maliciously or accidentally cause important harm. The admission process is intended to test both philosophical ideas and technical skills of the candidates.

However this strict process has made necessary a new role inside the project: Debian Maintainers. A Debian Maintainers are people who are not full developers but have a restricted ability to upload packages to the Debian archive. They need to be advocate to sponsor them and have limited rights inside the project and they cannot vote on project decisions.

Developers select one of their number as project leader annually. Project leader delegates responsibility for different roles within the project. Tension exists because many developers have been in role since before leaders were elected. The Debian Social Contract and the Debian Free Software Guidelines are the central documents guiding the community and everyone should agree those document before joining the community.

Motivating factors

Desire for a strong democratic model. Need to accommodate wide variety of nationalities and spoken languages.

Links

Open Source Leadership: Debian Debian Governance (slides) Debian https://nm.debian.org/

Name

Sakai

Description

Virtual learning and collaboration software

URL

http://sakaiproject.org/

Governance Model

Sakai is a project to develop online collaboration and learning software for educational institutions. It was begun when 4 American universities, which had been separately working to develop such systems, decided to pool their work; each institution provided funding and staff, with additional support from 2 other projects and from the Mellon Foundation.

Additionally, Sakai soon began a Partners' Programme, wherein other institutions and commercial companies could contribute funding and staff or other resources. Currently, membership requires an annual payment of $2,000 - $10,000, depending upon the size and type of institution. The board of governors of the foundation is elected by these foundation members; other than that, members' influence on the project comes from their participation in the development work. There are currently around 100 members in total, up from around 19 in the project's early stages.

When the project began, it was run by a board of 6 (there are now 10), who appointed leaders for the two teams responsible for development. During the early part of the project, only the founder members, and then the members of the Partners' Programme, could participate in development. According to Sakai, development decisions were generally taken within the teams themselves, rarely needing the intervention of the board; apparently, a meritocracy developed in the project.

Later on, development was opened-up to the public, rather than remain confined to paid members of the project. Though most development is done by staff of the institutions which are members of the foundation, other institutions also contribute. Co-ordination of the project still happens within the community, in its now-public lists and wikis, and at Sakai's occasional conferences, which anyone may pay to attend. Apparently, "A self-governing leadership team is responsible for each major aspect of Sakai. A new member is invited to join the leadership team when they demonstrate sufficient interest, commitment and proficiency to the project's leadership." (How we operate) The board of directors' main function is to oversee the foundation itself rather than co-ordinate the development work, though it does have ultimate executive power in that regard; also, it is apparently common that the people who are leaders within the community are also on the board of directors.

At present, in July 2008, there are proposals to introduce a new process to plan the course of future development. In particular, to discuss the community's proposals in a committee made up of the institutions who will be contributing the development resources, which will then make the final decisions about the project road-map. This is to ensure that the parties who will do the work have most say over the development plans; currently, there apparently can be a problem, where the community may vote for a project plan without it being clear whether anyone is willing to devote resources to implementing it.

Motivating factors

"All four [founding] institutions had decisively chosen not to use a commercial VLE [Virtual Learning Environment] and were independently pursuing development of a next generation set of software tools to support education and research. Thus, Sakai was born through a merging of efforts for home-grown systems with a vision to scale the collaboration to a vibrant open source community. The project agreed to combine the 'best-of' software tools and intellectual property from its founders to create the Sakai software." (From OSS Watch's case study of Sakai, written by one of the founders of the project.)

Links

The Sakai community About the foundation OSS Watch's case study of Sakai

Name

Ubuntu

Description

Linux distribution and community.

URL

http://www.ubuntu.com/

Governance Model

Mark Shuttleworth is the founder of both the Ubuntu project and the commercial company Canonical, which funds Ubuntu and offers services and support based on it. Shuttleworth directs the Ubuntu Foundation (the legal body representing the project), and has the casting vote on the two decision making bodies that direct the project as a whole. These bodies are the Community Council (7 members; sets and enforces the project's code of conduct, handles disputes, and approves the creation of new development teams) and the Technical Board (4 members; set the overall technical direction, such as the packages to include in the system and the feature goals for each release). Beneath these, there are the teams of developers who work on specific areas of the system, and the Local Community Teams, who publicise Ubuntu in their geographical areas.

In addition, there is a hierarchy amongst developers. "Ubunteros" are most junior, report bugs and do testing, and have their work reviewed by more senior developers. "Contributors" work on maintaining the non-core packages in the system, but done not have the right themselves to actually upload their changes without a sponsor. Ubuntu Developers are knows as "Masters of the Universe" (MOTUs), the universe being the non-core set of Ubuntu packages maintained by the community; they maintain and add packages to the project, and have the ultimate right to upload packages to the repository. Finally, Core Developers maintain packages which are core to the system (and which Ubuntu guarantees to support), and are more involved in the progress of the whole system.

The MOTU council controls progress to the "Contributor Level", with the Community Council actually having the final say. To become an MOTU, someone applies to the MOTU council; here, the Technical Board has the final say. To become a Core Developer, someone must be approved by the Technical Board itself. Finally, employees of Canonical can also be directed to take part in Ubuntu development.

Motivating factors

Ubuntu believes that this model allows wide participation and transparency. The ultimate authority held by Mark Shuttleworth is, it is claimed, important to allow decisions to be made amongst many competing views and priorities.

Links

Ubuntu governance model Types of developer in Ubuntu Ubuntu Code of Conduct

OSSWatchWiki: ExamplesOfOpenSourceGovernanceModels (last edited 2013-04-15 13:56:20 by localhost)

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