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Sourceware thanks Conservancy for their support and urges the community to support Conservancy

by Sourceware PLC on November 27, 2023

Sourceware is maintained by volunteers, but hardware, bandwidth and servers are provided by sponsors. It is our goal to offer a worry-free, friendly home for Free Software projects. Because Free Software needs Free Infrastructure.

We have only been a Conservancy member project for 6 months, but we started the search for a fiscal sponsor about two years ago. Although we probably didn't really know or understand why we needed one at first or the services they provide.

Sourceware has been a Free Software hosting platform since 1998. As a developer platform for developers getting consensus on technical roadmaps has always been easy. But the discussion on governance took some time. In particular how much influence corporations should get was at times contentious. Sourceware may be volunteer managed, but wouldn't be possible without the hardware, network resources and services provided by some corporate sponsors. The Sourceware community values their independence and the strong community which it manages.

After nine months of discussion we finally settled on joining the Software Freedom Conservancy with a Project Leadership Committee of eight members (Frank Ch. Eigler, Christopher Faylor, Ian Kelling, Ian Lance Taylor, Tom Tromey, Jon Turney, Mark J. Wielaard and Elena Zannoni). Our Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement with the Conservancy states that there cannot be a majority of people affiliated with the same organization (max two members can be employed by the same entity at once). The agreement also states that for projects Sourceware hosts everything will be distributed solely as Free Software and that we will publish all services as Free Software. There is also a conflict of interest policy for the PLC.

Joining the Software Freedom Conservancy as a member project made Sourceware more structured. We have monthly Open Office hours now to learn from the community about any infrastructure issues and then the Sourceware Project Leadership Committee meets to discuss these, set priorities and decide how to spend any funds and/or negotiate with hardware and service partners together with the Software Freedom Conservancy staff.

Projects hosted by Sourceware are part of the core toolchain for GNU/Linux distros, embedded systems, the cloud and, through Cygwin, Windows. Years ago Ken Thompson laid out the roadmap for attacking an operating system via the compiler and other code generation tools. These days these are known as supply chain attacks. The Free Software community should reasonably insist that they be defended against these kinds of attacks with mechanisms for prevention, detection and restoration. We have been encouraging hosted project to write up a security policy which we support with technical infrastructure. Sourceware now offers different ways to attest a patch or email is valid. Using the Sourceware public-inbox instance you can use b4 for patch attestation using dkim, gpg-signed emails or patatt. Projects concerned with source code integrity now have various options to use signed git commits, signed git pushes, or use gitsigur for protecting git repo integrity. And new services, like our snapshots server https://snapshots.sourceware.org/ are run in containers, on separate VMs or servers (thanks to our hardware partners). Sourceware also leverages Conservancy's advisory role in how community projects are impacted by and can comply with recent regulations like the USA Cyber Security Directives and the EU Cyber Resilience Act.

Conservancy staff has been attending conferences to discuss with the Sourceware community, first virtual, then in person. Without having a formal fundraising program we already collected more than $6000 in just 6 months for Sourceware. We got even more support from hardware partners, who provided us with extra servers for our buildbot and to setup new services. We wrote up a Roadmap looking backwards to the last 25 years and looking forwards to the next 25 years. All this resulted in more volunteers showing up helping out.

Having been part of Conservancy for just 6 months has given the community and volunteers running the Sourceware infrastructure confidence in the future. We hope the community will support the Software Freedom Conservancy 2023 Fundraiser and become a Conservancy Sustainer so Conservancy can support more Software Freedom communities like Sourceware.

Tags: conservancy, sourceware, fundraiser

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