Free Online Book Has Blueprint for Successful FOSS Projects

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 06, 2009

Recently, we've covered a number of good, free books and tutorials on open source applications and platforms that are freely downloadable online. Most of the books we covered introduce applications and platforms such as Blender and Ubuntu, but what if you're interested in the ins and outs of starting and running a successful open source project? This post points out that Karl Fogel's free online book provides an exhaustive guide. It's called, "Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project." It's a thorough 185-page guide to everything from licensing to maintaining a project.

Fogel's book is an 887K PDF file consisting of 9 chapters and several appendices:

  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. Getting Started
  • Chapter 3. Technical Infrastructure
  • Chapter 4. Social and Political Infrastructure
  • Chapter 5. Money
  • Chapter 6. Communications
  • Chapter 7. Packaging, Releasing, and Daily Development
  • Chapter 8. Managing Volunteers
  • Chapter 9. Licenses, Copyrights, and Patents

The five appendices delve into free version control systems, free bug trackers, how to keep group discussions focused, example instructions for reporting bugs, and copyrights. The book does a good job of providing specific resources rather than just generalities about running a project. For example, in the chapter on technical infrastructure, you'll find instructions on creating and maintaining productive mailing lists, and the chapter on licenses weighs the advantages and disadvantages of most major open source licenses.

While most of the material in Fogel's book is available in parts from various sites around the web, he does a good job of aggregating in one place most of the important instructions for launching and maintaining a project. If you're preparing for a launch or thinking about one, give the book a look. And for more resources for project leaders, see this post, and this one.