Collaboration first: The CSC open source policy

Recently, the CSC policy for free and open source software was posted without any celebration. It is under our Github organization and you can check it out at:

https://github.com/CSCfi/open-source-policy

Our tuned down approach stemmed from the fact that not much changed with the adoption of the policy. It pretty much stated the already established approach to endorsing open source software in our daily work.  The paths of CSC and open source have crossed from the very beginning, when we were in the happy position to offer the platform for distributing the very first version of the Linux operating system – and were of course early adopters of Linux in our operations.

CSC is a non-profit state enterprise embracing free and open source software throughout the operations and development. For us, open source software together with open data and open interfaces are the essential building blocks of sustainable digital ecosystems. CSC employees haven’t been shy of using and producing open source, but we still wanted to codify the current de facto practices and to encourage employees to go on supporting open source.

The major decision when formulating the policy was to put special emphasis on collaboration. We’ve been involved in dozens of open source projects and seen the realities of community building efforts. Community building is hard work.

The policy aims to encourage practices that in the best possible way encourage collaboration and contributing within the open source community. We find that the best way to do it is to embrace the licensing practices of the surrounding community. For some types of applications it might mean GPL licensing, where as increasingly the norm has been to use permissive licenses and to not enforce contributor agreements.

We have been happy contributors to projects such as OpenStack and felt extremely delighted to be also in the receiving side when working as main developers of software such as Elmer and Chipster. Every contribution counts and even the smallest ones usually carry some expertise or insight that broadens the scope of the project.

Finally, the policy aims to be concise and practical. It should offer guidance to everyday working life of CSC people who are part of the large open source community. So we did not want to make it a monolithic document written in legal language that would have been foreign to almost all of the developers in the community.

Happy coding!

P.S. If you would like to use the policy or parts of it for your organization or project, please do so! It is licensed under CC-BY 4.0, so there are no restrictions on reuse. Obviously, this is the licensing recommendation for documentation we give in the policy!

Photo: Adobe Stock

Aleksi Kallio

Aleksi Kallio

The author is the development manager of data intensive computing at CSC

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