Guest: John Mertic (LinkedIn)
Project: Open Mainframe Project (Twitter)
Show: Let’s Talk

What makes an open-source project successful and how do you get there? While no two open-source projects are ever the same and there isn’t a guarantee for success, there are lessons and insights from past projects that can be helpful for people working on current open-source projects. 

After 20 years of working on open-source projects, John Mertic, Program Director of the Linux Foundation, decided to write a book, Open Source Projects – Beyond Code: A blueprint for scalable and sustainable open source projects. The book, which has just been released, shares his wealth of knowledge on the topic and tries to help answer the most burning questions about how to build a successful open-source project. In this episode of TFiR: Let’s Talk, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Mertic to talk about his new book and what he has learned from his many years working with open-source projects.  

Key highlights from the video interview are:

  • The book focuses on open-source projects and what makes them work. It goes into depth about building strong, sustainable communities, commercialization, aspects of conflict, and all the different facets that contribute to an open-source project. Mertic shares his experience working on notable projects and the lessons he has learned over the years. 
  • Mertic explains what is covered in the book saying that there are a couple of introductory chapters to acclimatize people to the topic of open source before going into the different elements that make up open source and what the projects look like. The book then goes into detail about what makes a good open-source project. 
  • One of the key challenges of open-source projects is ensuring that when people go away, the project does not crash. Mertic talks about the importance of mentoring and bringing up the next leaders. He discusses why it is crucial to understand the interpersonal dynamics of working on these projects.
  • Mertic has been working on open-source projects for 20 years and currently works with Open Mainframe Project, Academy Software Foundation, and LF Energy Foundation. He explains how his experience of working on these projects and the lessons he has learned along the way motivated him to share his insights and stories. 
  • One chapter dissects the growth of a project called Mautic, an open-source marketing automation tool. Mautic discusses how he looked at it from an early project to a large community. He explains how it can be difficult to establish what success looks like and talks about some of the reasons why you might sunset a project. 
  • No two projects are ever the same but a common theme is the need to be intentional in thinking about why people would want to come into the project and contribute and the value they are gaining from it. On the flip side, you need a clear idea of what you need from the community.
  • Mertic discusses how the book is an amalgamation of all the things he has learned from the many projects and communities he has worked with and by recording and collating the key thematics, he has been able to provide a resource for other communities looking to get started with open source projects. 

This summary was written by Emily Nicholls.

You may also like