What makes open source projects special isn’t the software or even the licensing, it’s the pooling of talents and the spirit of free giving around these projects.
But not all open source initiatives become the object of corporate sponsorship or widespread devotion. And some that get such support don’t always keep it.
Here are four projects we’ve noticed that are especially in need of support, sponsorship, financial aid, manpower — or all of the above.
What it is: Python Package Index, the official repository for packages used in the Python language ecosystem.
Why it needs help: PyPI has been maintained more or less single-handedly by Donald Stufft, maintainer of the pip project that manages Python packages. While an employee of HP Enterprise, Stufft rewrote PyPI from scratch to make it faster and easier to use, but he recently lost his job and is looking for both new work and stalwarts who can help PyPI.
What it is: An independently maintained project that provides maps of the world, down to the street level. OpenStreetMap is used by many other projects that employ geographic data.
Why it needs help: The project values its independence and has subsisted from year to year on donations and the occasional corporate sponsor. The project’s needs are relatively modest — €70,000 per year — but as of this writing it is €30,000 short of that goal. Donations cover not only operating expenses but also legal fees, administration, and all the other nitty-gritty involved in a project of this type.
What it is: OSTIF is a corporate nonprofit that “connects open-source security projects with much needed funding and logistical support,” including security audits.
Why it needs help: It only makes sense for security-related projects to be open source, but the openest source in the world isn’t actually safe until someone with security expertise does their due diligence. And that requires money. OSTIF gathers donations, grants it to projects that need audits, and ensures that the money goes toward hiring staff to perform such work. OpenSSL, GnuPG, and VeraCrypt are some examples of projects that were audited using OSTIF funding.
Why it needs help: The OpenBSD Foundation raises money to keep OpenBSD development chugging along, but it’s fallen on hard times. In 2014 it almost closed its doors when it was socked with massive electric bills for its datacenter; only a last-minute donation of $20,000 kept OpenBSD solvent. The situation this year is also looking tough. The Foundation has raised a little over $165,000 out of a desired $250,000 for the year, but with only a month to go it may miss its target.
[Edited to properly describe the OpenBSD release.]