Martin Michlmayr: “I thought it would be interesting to study the role FOSS foundations play in making open source projects more sustainable and successful.”
Veteran Debian developer Martin Michlmayr has released two reports on foundations that support free and open source software, a primer that covers non-technical aspects and a research report that looks at the challenges that such foundations face.
Asked why he had decided to carry out research on this topic, Michlmayr, a former leader of the Debian GNU/Linux project told iTWire that since funding was available, he thought it would be interesting to look at the role that such foundations played in bolstering open source projects.
“The background is that the Ford Foundation and Sloan Foundation were funding research projects related to the sustainability of what they call ‘critical digital infrastructure’ (i.e. a lot of the Internet and other technologies rely on open source and it’s not clear who maintains it and ensures that it will stay around),” he said.
“I thought it would be interesting to study the role FOSS foundations play in making open source projects more sustainable and successful.”
Michlmayr said he had two goals in mind when he undertook the research.
To find common problems that FOSS foundations face in the hope it would lead to more collaboration; and
To create more awareness of the importance of FOSS foundations.
The primer is titled Growing Open Source Projects with a Stable Foundation and covers the following topics:
- What issues and areas to consider;
- How other projects and foundations have approached these topics;
- What FOSS foundations bring to the table; and
- How to choose a FOSS foundation.
The research report looks at Michlmayr’s findings and tries to understand the operations and challenges that FOSS foundations face.
It covers aspects like:
- The role and activities of foundations;
- Challenges faced and gaps in the service offerings;
- Operational aspects, including reasons for starting an organisation and the choice of jurisdiction;
- Trends, such as the ‘foundation in a foundation’ model; and
- Recommendations for different stakeholders.
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