September 25, 2017

Be Nice: Hyperledger’s Brian Behlendorf Offers Tips for Creating Sustainable Open Source Projects

So, what’s unique about projects like Linux that thrive where others fail? What’s the secret sauce that sustains one project over others? Is it the community? The license? The code? The organizations backing it?

We talked to open source veteran Brian Behlendorf, co-founder of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) and current Executive Director of the Hyperledger project, for some answers to these questions. Here is an edited version of the interview conducted at Open Source Summit North America in Los Angeles.

What are the core components of sustainable open source projects?

Brian Behlendorf: By definition, any open source project that is still alive needs some critical mass of developers contributing to it. The Linux kernel is 25+ years old, and it still sees 5,000 new lines of code every day. It’s still such an incredibly active project.

In my book, that means you need this body of maintainers and contributors who are willing to continue to nurture the project even as it goes into adolescence and later life.

For me, the only way to more or less guarantee that happens is to see that there are companies out there who are making money off of open source software. They have embedded it at the core of their business. And even if it’s not what they do as a business, it’s still something that they need. So they’ll provide feedback, contribute, and continue to invest in shepherding it forward.

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