March 1, 2024

Why am I so invested in the success of FreeBSD? Aside from my role in the Foundation which is to support FreeBSD, I have great respect for the Project and how it operates on an open and transparent governance model. I love the idea that anyone can have a say. Here is a run-down on what this means in the world of open source development. 

Community Driven Decision Making

The FreeBSD Project focuses on decentralized decision making and consensus building. There is an elected Core Team of nine FreeBSD committers who are responsible for facilitating the operations of the Project. They support the process of making technical decisions, hand out and remove commit bits, and liaise conversations with FreeBSD committers and contributors. The technical decisions are made through FreeBSD public mailing lists that continue until a general agreement is reached. This approach allows for well thought out decisions that include multiple perspectives. There’s not a small group making the choices for everyone, instead it is a community driven process that reflects the collective wisdom of its members. 

Transparency is of Utmost Importance

Transparency is key for this governance model to work. Decisions are conducted openly through mailing lists giving the community the opportunity to contribute. This transparency builds trust among contributors and users, fostering a collaborative and supportive community that is essential for the sustained growth of an open source project.

Stability and Consistency is Key

FreeBSD follows a careful, considered, and incremental approach to innovation and development. Part of that includes adhering to the Principle of Least Astonishment (POLA). Changes are not made for the sake of making changes. Stability and consistency are essential. The result is a reliable and predictable development cycle that aligns with the needs of users and stakeholders. It’s good to note that the Project’s use of POLA doesn’t mean things never change. Instead, it means that changes are deliberate and made for reasons that benefit the operating system, its users, and community. 

The FreeBSD governance model has been successful for over 30 years and continues to be so today. It’s part of why I love my job and the FreeBSD Community. When you foster collaboration, inclusiveness, and stability you create an environment where contributors thrive.  Looking to find out more about FreeBSD and how you can join the community? Start here:

Download the software

Learn more about The FreeBSD Project

Learn more about the FreeBSD Foundation

– Contributed by Deb Goodkin