Open Source Project Hosting
The Linux Foundation’s mission is to protect, promote and defend open collaboration on Linux and other open source technologies. In addition to open source software, the Linux Foundation also enables technical project communities building open standards, open hardware, open data, and open specifications.
The Linux Foundation’s methodology focuses on best practices and addressing the needs of contributors, users and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration. Backed by more than 1,400 members, the Linux Foundation is home to many of the technologies that run society and industry.
All Linux Foundation projects are free for anyone in the world to participate. Linux Foundation membership is not required – so if you want to use the code from an LF project or to contribute to a project’s technical efforts, just read the charter for the project’s governance and start participating. While we are selectively focused on hosting projects with sustainable ecosystems, there are no fees to host a project and all LF projects can take advantage of the project Core Support Programs. You can participate in an LF open standards body, open source software, open hardware, or open data project at no cost to you or your community.
Projects with funding support from contributors can also take advantage of the Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Support Programs. These programs are staffed by open source experts who can support the needs of your community.
The Linux Foundation offers flexibility for setting up a community project. All projects start with a technical project and technical charter. We call these basic projects “Community Projects” Anyone can participate in all of our projects, whether they are a member of the LF or not.
If your community wants to raise funds, we can set up a fundraising model for a single project or use an “umbrella” model where a single fundraising model can support multiple technical projects. Only about half of our project communities decide to raise funds, and those who do often are trying to fill a gap that companies dependent on the project may be eager to help fill. Raising funds requires a governance structure for how decisions for using the funds will be made. A community can use either a project membership funding model or CommunityBridge to raise funds.
Project Membership Model: provides the community an annual budget that is tied to annual funding commitments from the members, with options for invoicing and supplier engagement, which provides longer term stability and predictability for the project or umbrella project community.
CommunityBridge: provides a path to fundraising using a crowdfunding model which is particularly useful for one-off fundraising needs
How the Linux Foundation Assists
Anyone can publish a project’s source code on the Internet, but it takes more than just code to build a sustainable project community. The LF has been successful acting as “the community janitor,” filling in roles the community participants are not interested in doing themselves. When the project community has a gap, we often find the companies dependent on the project are willing to chip in to help provide the resources needed. For example:
We frequently run the event logistics and planning for communities – it often makes sense for developers to focus on working on code and not have to play event planners on their nights and weekends. The same is also true for creating and updating technical training content that’s vendor neutral and made available for people to learn how to become practitioners of the project’s output.
We regularly have community managers who help keep a project moving forward working with the technical leadership – it’s often helpful to have a neutral person facilitate and push action items forward.
Developers generally want access to cloud build services – and by fundraising we can set up a fund to pay for build services on a cloud provider.
The LF model has worked to propel engagement and adoption for some of today’s most successful open source projects. We provide projects a neutral home to operate, with access to all the policies and assurances that you, your community or your company needs to see in place. We also provide all of our projects access to our events and community tools.
Core Support Programs
- Neutral Asset Ownership: the LF serves as the neutral owner of the core assets and accounts for projects including domains, online service accounts (e.g. GitHub, Twitter, etc), and trademarks; contributors retain individual ownership of contributed code and license it to the project for redistribution under open source licenses or the terms of a project Contributor License Agreement
- Open Governance: the LF works with each project community to establish a transparent, open governance model for the technical community
- Clear IP Terms: the LF engages with the key stakeholders to understand and document the intellectual property terms that will underpin the collaboration
- Base Policies: the LF provides the base policies for organizations to collaborate including an antitrust policy, trademark policy, selecting a code of conduct, and more
- Entity Management: the LF maintains the core entity structures that enable our communities to operate and transact
- Community Tools: the LF makes tooling available to its communities to address common challenges with fundraising, mentoring, security, and CLA management
- Community Event Engagement: LF projects receive complementary space at our OSS NA & OSS EU events to host workshops, meetups and discussions. LF Projects receive a 50% discount on LF event sponsorship opportunities, and project member employees receive 20% off of registrration fees for many LF events. Project-related meetups or event activities are highlighted in the LF newsletter. Project members and governance are invited to attend our by-invitation annual member leadership summit event. Projects receive high priority for acceptance in our Project Highlights tracks at all Open Source Summit events and our annual member leadership event.
Collaboration Support Programs
Communities often take advantage of the Linux Foundation’s support programs that enable more efficient, effective and transparent collaboration. Community-raised funding can enhance a project by providing resources and support services to accelerate its growth, including:
- General and Administrative Support: the Linux Foundation handles all the backend operations associated with nonprofit fundraising and spending funds for the community
- Leadership and Community Management Support: hire resources to lead, facilitate and guide the community moving forward
- Marketing and Communications Support: gain visibility with your community’s target audience through a strategy and message designed to grow your collaboration
- IT and Release Engineering Support: offload the burden of managing releases to engineers experienced in managing open build and test systems for communities
- Community Event Support: we work with you to develop a strategy for community engagement face-to-face opportunities to advance roadmaps, discuss new ideas and iterate on resolutions to issue, then execute on your strategy. We can support anything from board meetings & design forums to large scale conferences for developer engagement. We can also support getting your project visibility at industry events that may be relevant to meeting your goals.
- Training Support: expand the ecosystem of skilled professionals able to use, implement and manage solutions based on your community’s technology
- Funding Support: fundraise for your community through membership models or one-off contributions without having to worry about managing a legal entity, managing finances, audits or regulatory filings
License and Security: routinely scanning the project repository can help identify license and security issues before an official release spreads any issues to all downstream users
Setting Up a Linux Foundation Project Collaboration
- Make sure you’re ok with the Linux Foundations’s core requirements:
- Project decision-making moves to a model of open, transparent governance. This doesn’t mean the LF takes over and resets your technical direction and vision back to day zero. Instead we mean that work with the project founders to document an open model of collaborative community operation – almost always without disrupting the next release or existing contributor base at all. The key is to create transparency about who makes decisions and how.
- Any trademark, git repo accounts or community assets should be owned neutrally by the foundation entity
- The project operates under an open license and IP model (keep the lawyers happy and enable community velocity of contributions by using well-established and understood approaches)
- At least 1 Linux Foundation member is sponsoring the project
- Contact us to discuss the mission and scope of your project, including any context around the community you have or want to attract
- Think about building your community. Who is already engaged? Are there any of our 1,600+ member companies and organizations potentially interested in participating?
- Work with the LF to draft the governance documents. Our templates are designed to help put the basics in place and let the community define how they operate (and they’ve already been approved by lawyers at 1,400+ companies)
- Plan an announcement; changes like moving to the LF are a great way to gain visibility for your project.