Conversations on Open Source Sustainability

21 September, 2020

By Javer Luis Cánovas

Nowadays, Open Source Systems (OSS) has become a vital part of our society and its digital transformation. It lives in almost every device we use, ranging from mobile devices or personal computers to databases or web servers. OSS have helped with the underlying infrastructure powering this digital transformation, and therefore it is critical for the daily activities and future evolution of our society.

The development of OSS generally relies on the power of distributed peer development on the open. With the term “open” we usually want to highlight its transparency or visibility. Still, when dealing with development processes, it also refers to its collaboration aspects and, as such, with the way people work together. To succeed, it is crucial to keep this collaboration active and long-lasting. Sustainability, therefore, plays an essential role in OSS

SustainOSS is an initiative created about four years ago to discuss the main challenges in sustainability for Open Source Systems. Among the activities organized by SustainOSS, they support a podcast where they discuss important topics related to sustainability in OSS.

I had the opportunity to participate in episode 38 of the podcast series. In this episode, we discussed the last advances in some working groups about sustainability promoted by SustainOSS, particularly the Governance Readiness and Principles of Authentic Participation.

I am the bottom liner of the Governance Readiness working group, which has as objective to create a checklist to verify whether open source projects are ready to deploy a governance model (or change their current governance for a healthy one). We have been working on creating such a checklist during the last months to drive the definition of governance models. We have categorized, selected, and prioritized a set of questions to build the checklist. The results have been published as a website where you can easily find each checklist element and a short description.

The advances of the Principles of Authentic Participation working group were reported by Justin Flory, its bottom liner. The group aims at defining a core set of principles of what authentic participation means in multiple contexts (e.g., corporate, individual, humanitarian/NGO, etc.), with particular emphasis on OSS. They have also created a website that summarizes the principles. In the episode, we also report on the status of other working groups.

We invite you to listen to the episode if you are interested. And also invite you to comment on any feedback you may have regarding these lines of work.


Javier Luis Cánovas, PhD in Computer Engineering from the University of Murcia, is associate professor of the Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunication Studies, and a researcher of the SOM Research Lab group at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), both at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC).

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