Free Software Island

A Free Software Island is a project, usually enabled by a foundation, where everyone agrees the software is created purely for the public good. Individuals and businesses alike agree to co-operate with each other on the software that is contained on the island, for mutual benefit.

Who uses it?

Projects like Envoy were free software islands even before they joined a foundation (the CNCF in this case).

When should it be used?

If the project will have many collaborators, often large insitutional ones, then a free software island may be the best home for it. While being on a free software island does not guarantee this kind of collaboration, it is designed for it.

What kind of monetization is possible?

Often, there is no direct monetization of the projects allowed at all. The Apache Foundation, for example, is very clear on this.

Instead, there are often downstream monetization of the software. For example:

  • The relationship between Apache Cassandra and DataStax - Cassandra is upstream, and DataStax is a proprietary downstream for Cassandra.
  • Kubernetes has a myriad of downstream monetization - companies with propriteary software offerings built on top, open source product extensions such as OpenShift, and cloud providers offering it as a service.

Does this model help create a Sustainable Free and Open Source Community?

Yes. The only risks in this model are that it only affirms the rights of the community within the island itself - it may result in the creation of more proprietary software, outside the community’s sphere of influence.