Non-Profits Organizations for FLOSS Projects: There Is No Place Like Home

Bradley Kuhn (Software Freedom Conservancy), Josh Berkus (PostgreSQL Experts, Inc.), Paula Hunter (Outercurve Foundation), Nóirín Plunkett (Eucalyptus Systems), Ian Skerrett (Eclipse Foundation), Jim Zemlin (The Linux Foundation)
Location: E144 Level: Novice
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 8 ratings)
Slides:   1-ODP 

Successful Open Source and Free Software projects usually have an abundance of great developers, documentators and other similar contributors. A common challenge, however, are those tasks outside the expertise or interest of those contributors.

Non-profit organizational homes for these projects provide an excellent way to solve that aspect of Open Source and Free Software. Non-profit organizations provide a useful and essential array of services and support to projects and provide all sorts of different infrastructure. Each non-profit organization provides a different group of services, and each has a different tweak on how the services are provided. The types of services often include:

  • technical development infrastructure and system administration infrastructure.
  • project and developer mentoring.
  • donation management.
  • copyright provenance, CLA management and advice, patent issues advice, legal contribution process management, and license compliance assistance.
  • coordination of funding for developers.
  • conference organizing, planning, and administration.
  • and many more!

This session is a whirlwind tour of some these excellent non-profit options for projects, to help project leaders understand the differences between these non-profits and help them find one that best fits their project’s culture and needs. Representatives from various non-profits will each present in sequence the highlights of their organization and what it can do for the project. Non-profits represented during the session will include:

  • The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) provides organizational, legal, and financial support for a broad range of open source software projects. ASF provides an established framework for intellectual property and financial contributions that simultaneously limits contributors potential legal exposure. Through a collaborative and meritocratic development process, Apache projects deliver enterprise-grade, freely available software products that attract large communities of users. The pragmatic Apache License makes it easy for all users, commercial and individual, to deploy Apache products.
  • The Eclipse Foundation is a membership supported organization which provides complete community support for open source projects. Eclipse has deep roots in the Java and developer tooling worlds, but has evolved to a technology agnostic project community. The key attributes that distinguish Eclipse include: a full-time staff to help projects get started and supported, predictability, a business-friendly approach, a solid forge with professional support staff, and a very thorough approach to intellectual property management. Eclipse also run a full set of community events.
  • The Linux Foundation is a non-profit consortium dedicated to fostering the most successful collaborative software project in technology history – Linux. The Linux Foundation promotes, protects, and advances Linux and also host open source collaborative software projects, providing the financial, operational, promotional, technical and management support and services needed.
  • The OuterCurve Foundation enables the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities. In practice this means providing software IP management and project development governance to enable and encourage organizations to develop software collaboratively in open source communities for faster result.
  • The Software Freedom Conservancy, a 501©(3) charity in the USA that provides a full range of (non-technical) administrative and non-profit management services to projects, including helping projects fundraise earmarked donations to fund developers, conference organizing support, and license compliance services.
  • Software in the Public Interest (SPI) is a non-profit organization which was founded to help organizations develop and distribute open hardware and software. SPI encourage programmers to use licenses that allow free redistribution and use of software, and hardware developers to distribute documentation that will allow device drivers to be written for their product. SPI acts as a fiscal sponsor to many free and open source projects.
Photo of Bradley Kuhn

Bradley Kuhn

Software Freedom Conservancy

Bradley M. Kuhn is a Director of FSF, and is President and Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy. Kuhn began his work in the Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) Movement as a volunteer in 1992, when he became an early adopter of the GNU /Linux operating system, and began contributing to various FLOSS projects. He worked during the 1990s as a system administrator and software developer for various companies, and taught AP Computer Science at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati. Kuhn’s non-profit career began in 2000, when he was hired by the Free Software Foundation. As FSF’s Executive Director from 2001-2005, Kuhn led FSF’s GPL enforcement, launched its Associate Member program, and invented the Affero GPL. From 2005-2010, Kuhn worked as the Policy Analyst and Technology Director of the Software Freedom Law Center. Kuhn holds a summa cum laude B.S. in Computer Science from Loyola University in Maryland, and an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Cincinnati. His Master’s thesis (an excerpt from which won the Damien Conway Award for Best Technical Paper at this conference in 2000) discussed methods for dynamic interoperability of FLOSS languages. Kuhn has a regular blog and a microblog (@bkuhn on

Photo of Josh Berkus

Josh Berkus

PostgreSQL Experts, Inc.

Josh Berkus is primarily known as one of the Core Team of the world-spanning open source database project PostgreSQL. As CEO of PostgreSQL Experts, Inc., he speaks on database and open source topics all over the world, and consults on database design, performance, and open source community building. He also makes pottery and is a darned good cook.

Photo of Paula Hunter

Paula Hunter

Outercurve Foundation

Paula Hunter brings a compelling combination of industry insight, executive-level business savvy and experience working with not-for-profits to the position of Executive Director. Previously Hunter served as Director of Operations for SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization. Prior to SEMPO, Hunter was director of worldwide marketing and business development for the Open Source Development Labs, where she was instrumental in driving membership growth of industry advocacy group and lead initiatives to increase industry awareness and engage large enterprise IT organizations with OSDL programs. Previously, Hunter was general manager of UnitedLinux, a joint venture formed to create a unified Linux offering. She began her career at Digital Equipment Corporation, where she managed marketing programs for DEC’s UNIX Workstation and PC product lines. Hunter received a BS in Computer Information Systems from Bentley University.

Photo of Nóirín Plunkett

Nóirín Plunkett

Eucalyptus Systems

Noirin Plunkett is a jack of all trades, and a master of several. A technical writer by day, her open source work epitomizes the saying “if you want something done, ask a busy person”.

Noirin got her open source start at Apache, helping out with the httpd documentation project. Within a year, she had been recruited to the conference planning team, which she now leads. She was involved in setting up the Community Development project at Apache, and acts as organization admin for Apache projects participating in Google Summer of Code. And, of course, she continues to contribute to ASF projects as diverse as Infrastructure and Incubator, and sits on the boards of both the Apache Software Foundation and the Open Cloud Initiative.

When she’s not online, Noirin’s natural habitat is the dance floor, although she’s also a keen harpist & singer, and a mean cook!

Photo of Ian Skerrett

Ian Skerrett

Eclipse Foundation

Ian is responsible for the marketing at the Eclipse Foundation. He has spent the last 2-3 years building an open source IoT community at Eclipse.

Photo of Jim Zemlin

Jim Zemlin

The Linux Foundation

Zemlin’s career spans three of the largest technology trends to rise over the last decade: mobile computing, SaaS and open source software. Today, as executive director of The Linux Foundation, he uses this experience to accelerate the adoption of Linux and support the future of computing.

Zemlin’s career took root at Western Wireless, which had a successful IPO and was later acquired by Deutsche Telekom and renamed T-Mobile USA. He was also a member of the founding management team of Corio, a leading enterprise application service provider that had a successful IPO in July 2000. Other posts have included vice president of marketing at Covalent Technologies and executive director at Free Standards Group (FSG).

In his leadership role today at The Linux Foundation, Zemlin works with the world’s largest technology companies, including IBM, Intel, Google, HP, Nokia, and others to help define the future of computing on the server, in the cloud and on a variety of new mobile computing devices. His work at the vendor-neutral Linux Foundation gives him a unique and aggregate perspective on the global technology industry.

Zemlin is a regular keynote speaker at industry events such as COMPUTEX, LinuxCon, Gartner’s Open Source Conference and Open Mobile Summit, among others. Zemlin advises a variety of startups, including DeviceVM, and sits on the boards of the Global Economic Symposium, Open Source For America and Chinese Open Source Promotion Union. Zemlin’s blog can be accessed at:


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