Put open source to work
July 16–17, 2018: Training & Tutorials
July 18–19, 2018: Conference
Portland, OR

Heroic and inspiring tales of open source

Danese Cooper (NearForm), Stephen Walli (Microsoft)
1:45pm2:25pm Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Level: Beginner
Average rating: ****.
(4.75, 4 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Everyone will find value in this presentation.

What you'll learn

  • Explore lessons drawn from the history of open source that will guide future endeavors


Twenty years in, open source represents one of the longest human experiments in global collaboration and change, and there are important lessons to be learned from this history. However, those who have been working on open source have failed to adequately document the stories that shaped their experience and honed their FOSS reflexes.

Danese Cooper and Stephen Walli explain why studying the history of open source will help the next generation of FOSS practitioners move forward with more confidence—and keep them from repeating past mistakes. This talk is meant as a gift to those who will inherit the open source movement, so they won’t compromise open source out of existence.

Topics include:

  • Open source takes courage.
  • Open source doesn’t waste effort pandering to the money. It’s okay to make money, but doing unnatural things to appease VCs is a slippery slope that can quickly kill a FOSS project. The money will figure out how to play with your project when they perceive value, so focus on building the best project you can.
  • Distributed ownership is preferable for FOSS projects, since single-entity ownership has allowed some very bad things to happen to several high-profile projects.
  • Open source projects thrive when they are inclusive, but inclusion can’t be the only focus of a successful project. The culture of the project can be baseline inclusive if the founders and subsequent leadership makes it a priority.
Photo of Danese Cooper

Danese Cooper


Danese Cooper is vice president of special initiatives at NearForm, an Irish tech firm. Previously, she was head of open source software at PayPal, CTO of the Wikimedia Foundation, chief open source evangelist for Sun, and senior director of open source strategies for Intel. Danese was also the inaugural chairperson of the Node.js Foundation. She concentrates on creating healthy open source communities and has served on the boards of Drupal Association, the Open Source Initiative, the Open Source Hardware Association, and she’s advised Mozilla and the Apache Software Foundation. Danese also runs a successful open source consultancy that counts the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the SETI Institute, Harris, and Numenta as clients. She’s been known to knit through meetings.

Photo of Stephen Walli

Stephen Walli


Stephen Walli is a principal program manager on the Azure engineering team at Microsoft. A technical executive, founder, consultant, writer, systems developer, software construction geek, and a standards diplomat, Stephen loves to build teams and products that excite customers. He has worked in the IT industry for almost 40 years, 25 of them working with open source. Previously, he was a distinguished technologist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and consulted at Docker. Stephen blogs about the software business, standards, and open source at Once More unto the Breach, on Medium, and at Opensource.com.