Dirk Riehle's Industry and Research Publications

A Model of Open Source Developer Foundations [OSS 2012]

Abstract: Many community open source projects are of high economic relevance. As these projects mature, their leaders face a choice of continuing the project as is, making the project join an existing foundation, or creating their own foundation for the project. This article presents a model of open source developer foundations that project leaders can use to compare existing foundations with their needs or to design their own. The model is based on a three-iteration qualitative study involving interviews and supplementary materials review. To demonstrate its usefulness, we apply the model to nine foundations and present their organizational choices in a comparative table format.

Keywords: Open source; open source developer foundation; developer consortium; user foundation; user consortium; software industry

Reference: Dirk Riehle, Sebastian Berschneider. “A Model of Open Source Developer Foundations.” In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2012). Springer Verlag, 2012. Page 15-28.

The paper is available as a PDF file.



  1. […] open source foundations can be split into user-led and developer-led foundations. The difference, in line with open source licenses, is in the use-case: User-led foundations […]

  2. […] Dirk; Berschneider, Sebastian (2012). A Model of Open Source Developer Foundations. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2012). Springer […]

  3. Andrew Avatar

    This is great. The PDF file is so informative and well narrated. It gives you an idea and all basic details required for your foundation and needs. Appreciated 🙂

  4. Mike Linksvayer Avatar

    Good paper, I learned some things!
    http://webmink.com/tag/open-by-rule/ seems like a complementary analysis
    It’d be interesting to see Software Freedom Conservancy and Software in the Public Interest described by the model developed — they are somewhat different in being homes potentially for any free software project; ASF is the nearest thing analyzed, but is quite different eg on the governance and operations categories. Could also be extended to foundations hosting open collaboration projects that aren’t primarily software; most prominently Wikimedia Foundation.
    Among the foundations analyzed, there’s a 1:1 correspondence between purpose and incorporation, and between proprietary software stance (see below) and project license; it’d be interesting to know how the model development process concluded those categories should remain 4 rather than 2 nevertheless.
    Finally a nit, I think the only category where naming and descriptions change from the model to the description of various foundations by the model is also the most politically contentious one — Commercial Stance (Free Software Enforced, Commercial Software Allowed) becomes Open Source Stance (Free Software, Open Source). Neither is entirely accurate (the first, “commercial” should be “proprietary”; the second, I don’t know how to fix — but the same description ought be used both places).

    1. Dirk Riehle Avatar

      Oh no, you caught a bug! (And why am I reading your comment only now, sorry!)
      So, it should be “commercial stance” all the way – that was based on the final iteration’s feedback, when people objected “open source stance”. The issue addressed is “do you allow for any business model or only a subset of the possible business models?”
      Lets see whether I can still get this fixed in the publication.

    2. Dirk Riehle Avatar

      Also, one nit pick from my side 🙂 Proprietary does not mean it can’t be open source, it only means there is one proprietor. Thus, MySQL is proprietary open source…

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