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Sustainability

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Daniel Oberhaus motherboard.vice.com

The complicated economy of open source software

Daniel Oberhaus, writing for Vice Motherboard: Heartbleed wasn’t an isolated example of developer burnout and lack of funding, but an outgrowth of a systemic disease that had been festering in the open source software community for years. Identifying the symptoms and causes of this disease was the easy part; finding a cure is more difficult. It’s not enough to just throw more money at the open source community, however. Increased funding creates its own problems in terms of how that money is distributed and what the organizations supplying the funding demand in return. If you’re wondering how we got here in open source, this report is an excellent read on the subject.

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JavaScript eslint.org

Funding ESLint’s future

ESLint began as a side project 6 years ago and has grown into the most popular JavaScript linter in the world with over 6.5 million npm downloads every week. In short, we’ve realized that in order for ESLint to continue to grow and evolve, we need to get more organized and set up a way to fund ESLint’s development going forward. Today, we are happy to announce the ESLint Collective on Open Collective. Support ’em if you got ’em

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Brandon Gomez cnbc.com

The current business model of Patreon is not sustainable

Jack Conte, the founder of Patreon, said the following in a report from Brandon Gomez on cnbc.com regarding Patreon’s sustainability as it relates to their recent rapid growth: The reality is Patreon needs to build new businesses and new services and new revenue lines in order to build a sustainable business. This thread from Dan Olson on Twitter is worth reading. It started off with this Tweet: I don’t want to be doom and gloom, but Patreon is about to eat itself. Or, more specifically, the investors who demand geometric growth are about to demand Patreon eat itself. I take particular interest in their revenue which is estimated at $55M versus the $107M of venture capital raised and how that relates to sustainability and the choices founders make on their journey to succeed and/or survive.

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Duane O'Brien fosdem.org

Sustaining FOSS projects by democratizing the sponsorship process

I wish I was there to see Duane O’Brien talk through this in person. This talk at FOSDEM examines how he got executive buy in at Indeed for their internal FOSS Sustainability Fund, how the fund was set up, how they encouraged participation, and what the impact has been so far. Within a given company, there are typically only a few people involved in deciding which FOSS projects and initiatives to support financially. This year we [at Indeed] changed all that and democratize the decision making process. We set up an internal FOSS Sustainability Fund, and invited everyone to participate in the process.

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Eric Berry blog.codefund.app

Introducing CodeFund Jobs

You may remember Eric Berry from Founders Talk #56 where he and Adam went deep on his mission to fund open source through ethical advertising. What makes CodeFund Jobs unique from other developer-focused job boards? It integrates with CodeFund’s ad platform to help reach both active and passive job seekers. Whether you’re on the hunt (or not), we’d love you to check out what Eric is up to. 💯

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Adam Stacoviak changelog.com/posts

The founders of Octobox are "walking a tightrope" as they move towards sustainability

Building an open source business is hard. Octobox co-founders Andrew Nesbitt and Benjamin Nickolls know this all too well. They’re walking a preverbal “tightrope” with the introduction of new pricing in order to move towards sustainability. By all accounts, Octobox is a success. It’s a thriving open source project that’s being adopted by the software community using GitHub. It has a growing community of maintainers and contributors. Organizations like Shopify run company-wide instances for their own use. Octobox is also run as a SaaS that hosts more than 11k users. But there’s one tiny little problem…Octobox is not sustainable (yet).

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BAT basicattentiontoken.org

Brave's new BAT tipping banner for creators

Good news! The new Brave tipping banner is now available with the latest desktop browser update. This new banner makes the experience of tipping your favorite Brave-verified publishers and creators easy and on brand. Even better, it never bugs your audience and is only shown when they want to initiate a BAT tip. If you podcast, blog, vlog, write tutorials, give talks, etc. then you should setup Brave Payments on your site and let your audience tip you with their attention! We’re doing it.

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Adam Jacob Medium

We need sustainable free and open source communities

Adam Jacob (co-founder and creator of Chef) tldr’d his ideas to create sustainable free and open source communities by saying, “we should stop focusing on how to protect the revenue models of open source companies, and instead focus on how to create sustainable communities.” He says this will lead to better software, and that it’s also better for business. In addition to this post, Adam also wrote a short book. When I say “Sustainable Open Source Community”, I mean the following: A unified body of individuals, scattered throughout a larger society, who work in support of the creation, evolution, use, and extension of free and open source software; while ensuring its longevity through meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the community of the future to meet its own needs.

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.NET github.com

It is expected that all developers become a Patron to use Fody

Here’s an interesting twist on open source funding: require all users to back the project on Open Collective, but only enforce that rule via social pressure. In other words, use an honesty policy: It is an honesty system with no code or legal enforcement. When raising an issue or a pull request, the user may be checked to ensure they are a patron, and that issue/PR may be closed without further examination. If a individual or organization has no interest in the long term sustainability of Fody, then they are legally free to ignore the honesty system. The software is MIT-licensed, so all of those liberal rules apply, but don’t expect to get your PR merged or your issue taken seriously unless you’re a patron. You must be a Patron to be a user of Fody. Contributing Pull Requests does not cancel this out. It may seem unfair to expect people both contribute PRs and also financially back this project. However it is important to remember the effort in reviewing and merging a PR is often similar to that of creating the PR. Also the project maintainers are committing to support that added code (feature or bug fix) for the life of the project. The project currently has 4 organizations and 10 individuals supporting it. What do you think those numbers will look like in 6 months or a year?

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Medium Icon Medium

Crowdsourcing the evolution of text parsing with unified

unified –for the uninitiated– is an interface for processing text with syntax trees and transforming between them. Maybe you’ve never heard of it, but you’ve probably relied on it as part of your software infrastructure: [unified] has been OSS for years, but has recently gotten more traction. It’s used in fancy technology such as MDX, Gatsby, and Prettier, and used to build things like Node’s docs, freeCodeCamp, and GitHub’s open source guide. Project’s like unified are crucial to the JavaScript ecosystem, but they’re difficult to fund and support toward sustainability. Hence, the unified collective. Today, we are pleased to announce the creation of the unified collective. It’s an effort to bring together like-minded organisations to collaboratively work on the innovation of content through seamless, interchangeable, and extendible tooling. We build parsers, transformers, and utilities so that others don’t have to worry about syntax. We make it easier for developers to develop. Let’s show these maintainers some 💚 and share this around to those who should be supporting it.

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Twitter Icon Twitter

"Corporate purchasing and policies make funding open source literally impossible"

This is an epic open source funding thread by @SwiftOnSecurity: Corporate purchasing and policies make funding open source Literally Impossible. Nothing’s going to change until you make them pay you.Someone filed a bug?Support contract.Someone wants a feature?Support contract.It’s literally easier to pay you $1500/yr than $25 once. Followed by: I want to donate $150 to this open source project.“Do I look like a communist? Is that what you think of me?”We need a $1.5k support contract rather than pay an on-staff developer $180k.“Okay submit their IRS W-9 and Point Of Contact for vendor management to reach out to.” That’s just the beginning. Lots to ponder if you have corporate users and you’re currently using donations as your primary source of funding.

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TechCrunch Icon TechCrunch

VMware acquires Heptio

Heptio is the startup founded by 2 of the co-founders of Kubernetes. We had been working on getting some time planned with the CEO Craig McLucki and CTO Joe Beda, but both were “unavailable” to speak. This acquisition might be one of the reasons why. From Ingrid Lunden’s coverage on TechCrunch: VMware acquires Heptio — a startup out of Seattle that was co-founded by Joe Beda and Craig McLuckie (two of the three people who co-created Kubernetes back at Google in 2014) Beda and McLuckie and their team will all be joining VMware in the transaction. More details can be found on the Heptio blog announcement. As for the terms of the deal, they “are not being disclosed.” For reference, when Heptio last raised money ($25M Series B in 2017) it was valued at $117M post-money. So, I’m estimating this deal to be in the $300M-$500M range. To Craig and Joe — first, congrats. Second, we’re still interested in talking with you. Maybe now is a better time and the details you couldn’t share before can now be more freely shared. This is an open invite, to you both! Congrats also to the team at Heptio for all the hard at work you’re doing to advance Kubernetes and cloud orchestration! What a ride the past few weeks for commercial open source in this recent wave of acquisitions.

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Business Insider Icon Business Insider

IBM is acquiring Red Hat for $34 Billion

That’s a lot of Billions attached to a company built on the back of open source Linux. To give a quick reminder, we JUST DID A SHOW with special guest Joseph Jacks titled “Venture capital meets commercial OSS” and, of course, Red Hat was mentioned several times. They’re also on the $100M+ revenue commercial open source software company index we talked about. We’ll dig into this and keep you updated on this breaking news that’s just days off the heels of Microsoft’s official acquisition announcement of GitHub. Needless to say, this has been a BIG WEEK for commercial open source software companies.

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Brenna Heaps Tidelift

How should you use funding for your open source project?

I think the consensus agrees that sustaining open source software takes more than just money. And yet money often remains a crucial part of a larger need for open source to sustain AND thrive. So, if that’s the case…how should you use funding for your open source project? Brenna Heaps writes on the Tidelift blog: We’ve been speaking with a lot of open source maintainers about how to get paid and what that might mean for their project, and the same question keeps popping up: What do I do with the money? The tldr? Fund the project, community engagement, and pay it forward… But, it’s a short read and worth it — so go read this and then share it with your fellow maintainers.

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Joseph Jacks docs.google.com

The $100M+ revenue commercial open source software company index

Have you seen this spreadsheet of open source software companies from Joseph Jacks? The criteria to be added to the sheet is; the company generates $100M+ revenue (recurring or not) OR generate the equivalent of $25M of revenue per quarter. These companies have found a way to build a very large business around one or many open source software projects. Anyone on this index surprise you?

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Stephen O'Grady redmonk.com

Tragedy of the Commons Clause

We’ve been tracking the community’s concerns and feedback about Commons Clause fairly well. In this post, Stephen O’Grady basically writes a book on the subject and the impact of this controversial software license. …the Commons Clause turns open source software into non-open source software, according to the industry’s accepted definition of that term. Specifically it says that the terms of the original open source license notwithstanding, you may not sell software “whose value derives, entirely or substantially, from the functionality of the Software.” …there are several logical questions to explore regarding the Commons Clause. What are the drivers behind it? What does it mean for the companies that employ it and the wider industry? And lastly, is it a good idea? Set aside 20 minutes and read this if you care about how this license is becoming popular among those (Redis as of recent) who are protecting their right to generate revenue from their open source code, while removing that ability for everyone else.

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Matt Klein Medium

The (broken) economics of OSS

In response to the post from Paul Dix on the misunderstandings going on around Redis and the Common Clause license — Matt Klein tweeted: Won’t defend Redis Labs, this is a dead end move, but there needs to be more recognition that the economics of OSS are fundamentally broken. In his post he starts by saying… I want to provide a long form discussion of my two Twitter threads as this topic is nuanced and quite interesting. Note: this post is heavy on opinion and light on facts/references backing up those opinions. Thus, preface everything that follows with “IMO.” Matt goes on to share some history of open source software and his opinions on modern expectations of software being free and open, startups and open source, and who pays…

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols zdnet.com

Will Commons Clause destroy open source?

There is a big debate underway over Commons Clause and its recent application to certain Redis enterprise add-ons. The Commons Clause license is open source and was drafted by Heather Meeker — whom you might remember from Request for Commits #9. This language from the license forbids the ability to sell the software (similar to the the Elastic License discussed on The Changelog #292). …the grant of rights under the License will not include, and the License does not grant to you, the right to Sell the Software. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols writes for ZDNet: Redis Labs has been unsuccessful in monetizing Redis, or at least not as successful as they’d like. Their executives were discovering, like the far more well-known Docker, that having a great open-source technology did not mean you’d be making millions. Redis’ solution was to embrace Commons Clause. This license forbids you from selling the software. It also states you may not host or offer consulting or support services as “a product or service whose value derives, entirely or substantially, from the functionality of the software”. I’m really curious to see how this tread plays out as more and more organizations see service providers (cloud hosting, SaaS, etc.) and consultants (support contracts, etc.) “getting rich” off of the projects they work so hard to maintain as open source, while they struggle to find a sustainable model for funding the efforts to keep the open source ship afloat.

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Paul Dix InfluxData Blog

It’s time for the open source community to get real

Paul Dix shared his thoughts on the subject of Redis and the misunderstandings going on around Redis Common Clause Licensing. Paul writes on the InfluxData blog: The accusation that RedisLabs did a bait and switch is entirely unfair. They’ve been funding open source Redis development for years and that work is now and will be in the future under the liberal BSD license. It’s not like they tricked a bunch of people into using Redis and pulled the rug out from under them. I’m sure that more than 99.99% of the Redis users are completely unaffected by this. And for those others, it’s not like the code that’s already out there is unusable. To my knowledge they can’t retroactively apply the license. So we’re really only talking about forward development to specific modules (not Redis core). Paul also shares how he favors open core, and the issues he has with other models to sustain the development of open source at scale. Open core is a fairly honest way to go about developing open source software. As long as you’re clear about what is open and what is closed. Bradley Kuhn, Executive Director and President of Software Freedom Conservancy, also shared some thoughts on “Commons Clause” style licenses. Update 2018/08/24 @ 15:09 — this Twitter thread is a nice read too.

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link Icon blog.marcgravell.com

Having a serious conversation about open source

Marc Gravell: I absolutely love open source and the open source community. I love sharing ideas, being challenged by requirements and perspectives outside of my own horizon, benefitting from the contributions and wisdom of like-minded folks etc. … But: the consumers of open source (and I very much include myself in this) have become… for want of a better word: entitled. We’ve essentially reinforced that software is free (edit: I mean in the “beer” sense, not in the “Stallman” sense). That our efforts - as an open source community: have no value beyond the occasional pat on a back. I’m glad to see that as our industry matures, we’re addressing topics like these. I don’t know where to begin addressing this problem though. How do you shift the mentality of people who should start paying for things that have always been free? One thing is for sure, this isn’t sustainable. And let’s not forget, that this problem also further exacerbates the lack of developers of color who contribute to open source. Marc asks if this is a problem, and I say hell yes it is.

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Salvatore Sanfilippo antirez.com

Redis will remain BSD licensed

The rumors of Redis taking on a new Creative Common license ARE NOT true. Antirez (Salvatore Sanfilippo) writes on his personal blog: Redis is, and will remain, BSD licensed. However in the era of uncontrollable spreading of information, my attempts to provide the correct information failed, and I’m still seeing everywhere “Redis is no longer open source”. The reality is that Redis remains BSD, and actually Redis Labs did the right thing supporting my effort to keep Redis core open. Here’s what IS happening… What is happening instead is that certain Redis modules, developed inside Redis Labs, are now released under the Common Clause (using Apache license as a base license). This means that basically certain enterprise add-ons, instead of being completely closed source as they could be, will be available with a more permissive license. Here’s how Redis is licensed.

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Mike McQuaid mikemcquaid.com

"This is why people don’t contribute to your open source project"

Do you want more contributors and maintainers on your project? Mike McQuaid, maintainer of Homebrew (macOS package manager), writes on his personal blog: Here are a a few guidelines in thinking about this: Most contributors were users first (“scratching your own itch”: most people start contributing to an open source project to solve a problem they are experiencing) Most maintainers were a contributor and user first (people don’t just jump into maintaining a project without helping to build it first) Maintainers cannot do a good job without remaining a user (to maintain context, passion and empathy) Combined, these start to look a bit like a sales funnel. People have to travel through each stage and there’s a fairly hefty drop-off at each one. Also check out ~> Open source maintainers owe you nothing

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Keenan Szulik Tidelift

Is React's development "supported" by Facebook? That depends.

Everyone knows that React is one of the most popular JavaScript libraries for building user interfaces — and many users of React choose it because they think it’s supported by Facebook. But is it really? That depends on what you mean by React, and what you mean by support. Keenan Szulik writes on the Tidelift blog: Since its release in 2013, React has grown into a proper open source phenomenon … with more than 100,000 GitHub stars, over 300,000 dependent repositories, and more than 800 contributors. Facebook’s contributions to React and the JavaScript ecosystem around it are truly epic — the stuff of legend. But when we dive into the dependencies of the default create-react-app, only 24 of the 1,103 packages come from repositories in Facebook’s GitHub organizations. That’s less than 3% of the dependencies required to build the “Hello, World” app with create-react-app! So who supports React?

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