A Good Foundation for 2009

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If I had to pinpoint major open source trends in 2008, one of them would be the rise of the foundation as a major force in free software. The best-known examples of these are probably the Mozilla Foundation and GNOME Foundation, both of which have expanded their ambitions recently. Here's what each has to say about its aims:

The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit organization that sponsors the Mozilla project and devotes its resources to promoting openness, innovation and opportunity on the Internet. We do this by supporting the community of Mozilla contributors and by assisting others who are building technologies that benefit users around the world.

and

The Foundation will act as an official voice for the GNOME project, providing a means of communication with the press and with commercial and noncommercial organizations interested in GNOME software. The foundation may produce educational materials and documentation to help the public learn about GNOME software. In addition, it may sponsor GNOME-related technical conferences, and represent GNOME at relevant conferences sponsored by others, help create technical standards for the project and promote the use and development of GNOME software.

Roberto Galoppini has an interesting post exploring the latest moves of the GNOME Foundation, including the following comment from Stormy Peters, its Executive Director:

When I talked to all the Advisory Board members when I first started, it surprised me how many of them said they appreciated the space to talk confidentially to their potential competitors.

GNOME reaches a lot of users - millions for them. 14 million by one count. But none of them directly. They all have plans for GNOME, have things they add and have things they want to see in the future and things they’ve worked on that they’d like to add upstream. Having a place where they can discuss their plans together, so that they can best cooperate as companies and individual contributors in the project, leads to more cooperation and more innovative work upstream.

Not quite sure what the longer-term implications are, but it's clear that 2009 will continue to be interesting on the foundations front.

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