Sustaining Open Source Software

Sustaining a scientific software project is a difficult task. One strategy for sustaining scientific software is to build a community of open source contributors.


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Published December 04, 2017

Contributor Todd Gamblin

This page documents resources available for maintainers of open source software (OSS), from reports and books discussing the problems facing OSS maintainers, to foundations and nonprofits that can potentially provide community funding for open source projects. Much scientific software is open source, and the needs of mainstream open source projects frequently overlap with those of the scientific community. Better Scientific Software encourages leveraging the wisdom of existing successful projects to implement your sustainability plan.

Reports and books on open source software

Nadia Eghbal, 2016. Ford Foundation report on long-term sustainability of open source software infrastructure.

Open Source Guides, by GitHub: A series of how-tos on launching and sustaining open source projects. Information includes topics on starting a project, licensing, maintaining, establishing community governance, and finding funding.

Karl Fogel, 2005. This book is soon to be updated to a second edition. It discusses various aspects of managing a community of open source developers.


A podcast about the human aspects of software development, focusing on software sustainability. It includes many interviews with leaders in major open source projects.

A podcast that covers open source projects in HPC. It includes many interviews with maintainers, researchers, and developers of popular HPC software projects. It is run by Brock Palen (UMich) and Jeff Sqyres (Cisco).

Foundations and nonprofits that fund open source development

501 (c) nonprofit sustaining open source projects in data science.

A nonprofit technology trade association chartered to promote, protect, and advance Linux and collaborative development.