FOSS sustainability: Highlighting the need to discuss Strategy

Need for strategy

Free Software has a broad range of ideologies that surround it. This is in general a Good Thing™ as it shows that people are passionate to find solutions that benefit mankind. It can also be a barrier to have open discussions on how we can be better still. Deeply engrained emotions and feelings easily come to the front and can stifle discussions.

One observation is central in the Strategy subcategory on this forum:

In our present upside down hypercapitalist world, FOSS is not sustainable as it should be.

And related to this observation the question arises:

Can FOSS benefit from more strategic approaches without compromising its core values?

Free Software is pure, in terms of Principles and Values.
Free Software is superior, in terms of socio-technical aspects to software development.


Free Software is weak as soon as we look at its application and practices beyond the single project level.

Openness to be strategic

Recent discussions seemed to bump into a reluctance to have open discussion. Hence I am writing this topic now…

In response to some great wisdom quoted by @tallship on forge federation chat, namely “Less is more”, I gave my own perspective on what should imho be the focus of the Social Coding Movement and circled back on @realaravinth’s mention of the wise Buddhist philosophy “Show not tell”.

The freedoms of the FOSS is not at discussion, nor the 5th Freedom to Corrupt that others wield, nor is attaching an activistic cause to directly fight it. That is all just backdrop, depicting the current world we live in. My interest mainly is about sustainability. The ability for a FOSS craftsperson to eek out a decent existence for their humble work. To sustain themselves.

People in general tend to forget wisdom already out there. It is great to explore “Less is more”. Another one I am fascinated by I call “Small is Huge”. The huge impact that smallness can have. E.F. Schumacher has written this book “Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered” in 1973, which is an inspiration to me. Like in this quote:

Man is small, and, therefore, small is beautiful. The fundamental task is to achieve smallness within large organisation.

— E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful

If FOSS becomes sustainable it becomes more attractive to a larger group of people all by itself. And will align to the Buddhist philosophy of “Show not tell” that Aravinth mentioned on the topic.

Imho the sustainability of FOSS should be enclosed in the full set of practices to be discovered within the Free Software Development Lifecycle.

Preconditions for reaching sustainability, introducing economics as if people mattered, in other words achieve smallness in large organizations, are that the strategies to achieve this can be discussed in all openness and without prejudice.

If that’s not possible, then strategy is not possible and we can just close shop on these goals.

Strategic directions

But these discussions make me hopeful of some great follow-ups here in our movement. In short order we already found 3 major strategic objectives to elaborate:

  1. Less is More
  2. Small is Huge
  3. Show not Tell


@dachary has opened a Wiki Post where we can summarize our thoughts and findings on the strategic path to make FOSS be more sustainable.

Please refer to:

:dart: Strategy for Free Software sustainability (wiki page)