Proposing Sourceware as SFC member project

Mark Wielaard
Thu Sep 1 08:28:16 GMT 2022

Hi Jose,

On Thu, Sep 01, 2022 at 12:19:59AM +0200, Jose E. Marchesi via Overseers wrote:
> > If you have an interest in the long term future of the sourceware
> > hosting server which this project is using, please consider checking
> > out this thread on our local overseers@ mailing list.  Everything is
> > fine, we're just thinking ahead.
> >
> >
> Do you plan to publish the application text before actually starting the
> process?  If so, where can it be found?  Where can it be discussed, in
> case people have comments/suggestions?

The full text of the application is attached. The process is fairly
informal We had some
informal chats about the idea some months ago to see if applying even
made sense to them. Luckily they were enthousiastic. You are then
requested to supply your formal application in plain text form more
like a story than a Q/A form. The attached full text leaves out the
parts that didn't make sense to a pure hosting project like
sourceware. I believe sourceware is the first pure free software
hosting project that is applying, so it is also somewhat new to
them. You are then requested to be as transparent as possible with the
community so people can make suggestions and nobody is caught by
surprise. Which is the step we are at now. Then they'll sent the
application to the SFC evaluation committee which must approve We should hear before
Cauldron whether or not we were accepted.

I CCed Daniel and Bradley from the Conservancy to correct any mistakes
in my description of the procedures.


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Sourceware provides hosting to essential free software toolchain
projects using only free software and in a way that the developers
themselves are in control. It can be seen as alternative to
proprietary hosting platforms, but has existed long before free
software project hosting became a business. It tries to enable
developers to be in control of their own hosting.

We don't have an immediate need for fiscal sponsorship, but we want to
be ready when we do. We hope Conservancy can be our partner when in
the future we do need an independent (non-profit, public benefit)
party to hold assets or enter into contracts. For example if we do
want to hire someone to do some basic admin stuff or we decide we want
to have some cloud machines. If we want to crowdfund funds to contract
some additions to projects like buildbot, patchwork or sourcehut on
which we rely.

Conservancy seems like a good pick for a fiscal sponsor since it has a
strong commitment to Software Freedom, community and public
interest. We also believe we would be a good partner to Conservancy by
offering hosting to toolchain related projects, for example to those
projects wanting to migrate off github. We also rely on various
projects which are already Conservancy member projects and can and
will upstream any of the improvements we are making to those.

Sourceware is mainly known for hosting the GNU Toolchain projects, gcc
at, glibc, binutils and gdb. But also hosts
projects like annobin, bunsen, bzip2, cgen, cygwin at, debugedit, dwz, elfutils at,
gccrs, gnu-abi, insight, kawa, libffi, libabigail, mauve, newlib,
systemtap and valgrind at

A longer list of projects Sourceware supports, those without their own
domain names, including several dormant projects, can be found here:  Projects hosted by
Sourceware are mostly lower level toolchain related.  Projects can
come and go as their needs change.

Not all projects use all of the services Sourceware offers. Although
various projects share services on sourceware, projects are free to
tweak or adjust services as needed. Most projects aren't simply
"consumers" of the Sourceware provided infrastructure but active

Our main challenge is the fact that most sourceware communities use an
email based workflow, which has been working great for them but isn't
always welcoming to newcomers. The following URL provides a roadmap to
making email/git based workflow more fun, secure and productive by
automating contribution tracking and testing across different distros
and architectures using buildbot, bunsen, patchwork, public-inbox and
possibly sourcehut:

If we would raise funds through Conservancy we would try to find a way
to support our current efforts to extend the services we offer. This
could be contract negotiation for some basic admin stuff or additions
to projects like bugzilla, buildbot, patchwork or sourcehut. These
activities have no specific geographic place.

Funds aren't the most important/crucial for Sourceware. The important
part is expanding the active overseers and/or project admins.

The project has no trademarks. Sourceware was used first by Cygnus
Solutions in 1994 as an alternative term for Free Software before
adopting the term Open Source. See

The project uses a green variant of the public domain Copleft sign

It used as favicon and is on various of our pages/services: was established in 1998 by Cygnus to host
various GNU projects Cygnus contributed to and Cygwin (which later got
its own domain, but shared hosting with Sourceware). In
1999 it was merged with as the developer controlled
hosting side for GCC. In 2000 after Cygnus merged with Red Hat it was
briefly renamed to till in 2001 Ian Lance Taylor
registed and it became an independent hosting
project. Red Hat still provides hardware and network connectivity
through but does not involve itself with the actual
running of the project.

Sourceware has a very flexible governance structure. There is a group
of overseers (basically those people with root access to the main
hosting server) who can create new user accounts for projects. Of
these overseers there are three people who do the day to day
maintenance (Frank, Chris and Mark), who can be considered the
Sourceware representatives.

Projects hosted by Sourceware do not need to contribute or participate
in the infrastructure services, but most do. For example Overseers
grant access to project specific accounts to install cronjobs or git
hooks, grant admin permissions to bugzilla or other services. In
general projects define their own rules on who gets accounts and
permissions for manipulating their services which Overseers follows.

There have been no major disputes. In general we have had enough
resources to provide any service projects have asked for. And we don't
hold projects hostage and will help them if they want to (partially)
migrate to another hosting service.

As a hosting project you could say that all our offerings are Software
as a Service. All services are offered to all project and they are all
based on Free Software. We try to use packaged software as much as
possible and try to upstream any patches we make. If possible (and if
we remember) we try to document the setup too for others to replicate
locally to make contributing to the service as easy as possible. See
e.g our buildbot service which has its full configuration in a git
repo with full documentation on how to setup and hack on a local copy:;a=tree

Red Hat's OSCI, provides hardware and network
connectivity for our main hosting server. We get additional build
servers from OSUOSL, Marist University, Brno University, IBM, Arm and
a handful of individuals. All servers are maintained by volunteers,
either by the Sourceware overseers or project maintainers. We prefer
these informal relationships as long as the developers are in control
of the provided hardware. Even when Conservancy becomes the fiscal
sponsor for Sourceware we would like to keep this informal
sponsorships in place. So we don't think it would work if Conservancy
becomes the exclusive way to sponsor Sourceware with resources.

Accross all projects hosted by Sourceware we have ~1250 user
(developer) accounts. The shared bugzilla database lists ~13500 users
(this excludes GCC which has its own bug database). We have more than
200 mailinglists some with a handful, some with hundreds or even a
thousand subscribers.

Here is an image of all our contributors/hosted projects from 2019

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