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Transferring the Leadership of Open Source Projects?

Cliff posted more than 12 years ago | from the finding-the-code-a-new-home dept.

News 128

Frabcus asks: "I founded an Open Source project TortoiseCVS, a Windows Explorer shell extension for using CVS, but now I'm looking to hand on project management to someone else. When I started out, I had an itch to scratch. We started using CVS at work and I didn't like the interface for WinCVS, so I made a better one. Now it's a year and a half later and TortoiseCVS does everything that I want it to, so I'd like to move on to other things and let someone else take it on. There have been over 20,000 downloads, so I have quite a large user base, but not many people are active in supplying patches. Do you guys have experience of handing on an Open Source project? How did you find someone who has similar goals that will fit in with the existing code?" The thing to do is to start asking around in development circles. The best starting place, of course, is among the existing user-base. For those of you who have transferred Open Source projects, how did you go about finding your successor?

Another well timed submission on this same subject, mrgrumpy follows up with this query: "Quite some time ago (around 1997-1998) I built a Java based adventure game called World. Developed with Java1.1 (and at the time it was fairly leading edge, it now looks a bit tired), you run around, collect treasure and kill things. As with all my great projects (hey, I won a Sparc5 for this), I had always intended to finish it, but never did. Now I want to give it away to a good home where developers will continue to work on the code and bring my ideas to completion.

Every now and then I sit down and have a look at the code but I don't really have the energy left to complete it (most of my energy was soaked up with my Masters degree). Other projects have taken over now, and I'm planning to go overseas for 12-18 months, so I know I won't get back to it for a very, very long time in any serious way.

I am happy to give the code away if a team of developers want to continue developing it. I can act as a grandfather figure to the project to give guidance and wisdom, and to clarify what my vision was, and what the code does. I'd prefer it to be GPL'd or a similar license that won't shut the code up.

There was another project similar to this one called White Orb, which seems to have gone the way of the dodo, a shame because it had a lot of potential, so I don't want to release this one and have it gather dust. I could set the project up somewhere like SourceForge, but as I said I'd rather just hand it all over to someone else and just look after it.

If you're interested, you could email me, or just leave a comment below. I want to pick either a team, or an individual who I can be confident in that they'll get the project up and running."

So here are two projects looking for good homes. What's the best way of giving up control of an Open Source project (with the potential of varying degrees of continued project development by the original maintainer) in the hopes of it continuing on in good health?

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Hello there. (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596283)

I am not wearing pants.

Re:Hello there. (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596338)

I have your pants. They are full of grits.

Re:Hello there. (-1)

Sunken Kursk (518450) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596386)

Are the grits still hot?

Re:Hello there. (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596448)

I hope so - I cooked them with my urine. These yellow grits are a little salty but quite tasty.

Another post. (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596299)

I have warm, fuzzy genitals.

Who would like to see 'em?

rule number one (5, Insightful) (13833) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596304)

in general, if you leave the project, it will die. this is sad but true: unless there is someone other than you who has a substantial personal investment in the project in terms of blood, sweat, and tears, the project will fade away fairly quickly once people realise there is no committed leadership.


Re:rule number one (3, Insightful)

puma_duh (317981) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596343)

I disagree. The foundation of open-source projects is the team-work... that's what make a lot of them better than they closed-source counterparts. Most likely a lot of people helped him to get where he is. Finding a suitable sucessor among those who helped is just a matter of time and patience. And even without a centralized leadership the project may still grown, and the program can be improved.

Re:rule number one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596390)

pathetic, the "foundation" of ANY software project (substantial ones) is teamwork. I'm sure there's absolutely no teamwork at Microsoft going on, no countless hours of design and analysis taking place. Most likely in this case, not a lot of people helped this guy get where he is, hell, he says that! So please stop spreaing your zealot backed FUD and look at the facts.

Re:rule number one (2, Interesting)

puma_duh (317981) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596436)

Not really. Microsoft software (why do you always pick this enterprise) is made aiming *MONETARY RETURN*, not quality. If they can make crap and sell it for a good price, that's what they are going to do.

And I think it is YOU who should look at the facts before posting. Take a look at the project page in SourceForge: 3 administrators and 19 developers - this is a good quantity of people, don't you agree? Are you sure that he wasn't helped by a lot of people?

Re:rule number one (5, Insightful)

babbage (61057) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596832)

I disagree. The ugly truth about open source is that, in spite of the grassroots image, every significant project has been primarily driven in a top down way. Think about the irony there. When you think closed source, you think Windows, Oracle, Photoshop, etc., all of which have big corporate names behind them, and thus their unseen legions of developers -- Microsoft, Oracle, Adobe. When you think open source you think Linux, Perl, Emacs, and most of them have the names of individuals associated with them -- Torvalds, Wall, Stallman.

This first guy said outright that a lot of people have downloaded his application but few have submitted patches back to it. That flatly contradicts your suggestion. And as for the second guy, he doesn't sound so different -- he still seems to want to run things, he just wants a break from the tedium of actually writing the code. Boo frickin hoo to him, I say -- if this Java game is his baby he shouldn't expect someone else to care about it as much as he did. It's much easier for me to sympathize with the CVS guy -- he's done what he set out to do, now he's willing to let others go where they will with it. If the project is to continue, this is what will have to happen: some other lead developer (or group of developers) will have to see something in the project that they want fleshed out, so it can become *their* itch to scratch, not someone elses. People don't tend to scratch other peoples' software itch unless they're being paid to do it, which brings us back towards the proprietary model.

What you say sounds nice in theory and adheres nicely to the party line, but the sad fact is that the mechanics of things don't let them work out that way. Only the biggest projects have anything looking like a team effort -- Perl6 comes to mind -- and even then they're being lead by a core group of people, so it isn't really an exception to the rule.

Re:rule number one (1)

smack_attack (171144) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596360)

The exception to this is phpMyAdmin []

Good software (usually open source) usually won't die if the founder forgets about it. The fact is that most software can be replaced with something else (however difficult that may be) if development stops.

Re:rule number one (3, Interesting)

ab315 (443209) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596458)

These days the "first wave" of maintainers are leaving their projects and I am seeing a lot of good packages being driven into the ground by the inexperienced and overenthusiastic people who take over. The first rule of software development is "if it ain't broke don't fix it" but when a new maintainer take over the first thing they want to do is rewrite everything.

The catch twenty-two of project maintenance is that anybody who has the experience knows how much effort it requires and will be reluctant to volunteer, so the people who will actually step forward are those who are too inexperienced to know better.

Re:rule number one (3, Insightful)

Anthony Boyd (242971) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597661)

if you leave the project, it will die

Not in my experience. Perhaps your generalization holds up for others, though. But for me, the only way to keep my projects going is to walk away from them immediately. I am not a big developer. But for example, I wrote a few Applescripts for Outlook Express on the Macintosh. Including a well-loved script that restored password-protection to the app. I always released this code into the wild with text that stated the code was not only free, but that it had scratched my itch and others were invited to take over. All my Applescripts & Perl programs have since been completely taken over by others.

Perhaps in order to have a successful passing-of-the-baton, you need to disclaim ownership and encourage others to do as they wish. I see this as a flaw of mrgrumpy's approach to passing on his Java game, World. He wants to be the "grandfather" figure giving guidance and vision. He wants it to be GPL'd or similar. He wants to be sure the project won't gather dust. He needs too many assurances, and developers have a fear of commitment. When I use/patch code, I play with it out of curiosity and interest. So by encouraging freedom -- even freedom to fork code into new directions that I never intended -- my code always finds a new home or two.

I already have one and two, how about #4? (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596312)

Could I be that good? Yes, dammit, I am that special.

Re:I already have one and two, how about #4? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596330)

you are nothing but a 2-bit troll that doesn't even deserve to lick the cum off of goatse.

Re:I already have one and two, how about #4? (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596347)

I was a 3-bit troll just yesterday. What happened, and why wasn't I notified?

Slow Down Cowshit!

Re:I already have one and two, how about #4? (-1)

Sunken Kursk (518450) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596371)

With the economic downturn, we decided to cut your pay rather than furlough you.

Your supervisor should have discussed this with you. However, because he didn't, he will be summarilly executed. You may choose the method.

Re:I already have one and two, how about #4? (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596389)

Excellent. Introduce him to a broom handle, NYPD style.

Re:I already have one and two, how about #4? (-1)

I.T.R.A.R.K. (533627) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596336)

You still haven't shown us your warm bawls.

- I throw rocks at retarded kids

Re:I already have one and two, how about #4? (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596405)

Well, I tried to. []

Re:I already have one and two, how about #4? (-1)

I.T.R.A.R.K. (533627) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596559)

Do or do not. There is no try!
Now out with those warm bawls, mister!

- I throw rocks at retarded kids

GAIM (5, Informative)

akiaki007 (148804) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596321)

That was a success in ownership hand down. Perhaps you should ask them how they did it.

Re:GAIM (4, Interesting)

bjb (3050) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597051)

I think it has more to do with the fact that GAIM is a project that people really want. Not to say that people don't want the CVS interface, but with the popularity of instant messaging these days, a good AIM-like client for multiple platforms has a definate market.

Sure, there's other IM clients and protocols out there, but AOL's IM is certainly the king (from what I see). From past experience with some of these open source clients (read: haven't touched 'em in several months), I found that GAIM was probably several (if not more) steps ahead of the competition.

I think in the end it really comes down to how much of a demand among "geeks" the program has. With the CVS extension mentioned, it certainly is a good tool to have, but it is a Windows product; GAIM is more Linux/UNIX which tends to draw a larger geek crowd. If you were to compare Windows to UNIX users, you would find considerably more people with serious programming skill on the UNIX side. These are the people who would pick up and develop these projects.

When I have someone take over... (5, Insightful)

nll8802 (536577) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596323)

I usually ask the most active bug reporters and patchers... One of them is usually quite willing to take over the project. I think if you didn't go to them first they would be a little upset since they feel they have already made quite a bit of contributions to the project.

Parallels with Perl and CPAN (2, Informative)

MeerCat (5914) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596325) [] (running SlashCode) has a similar topic for CPAN modules up for adoption.

You know what we need? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596328)

A home for abandoned & elderly Open Source projects. Preferably one where they can be kept subdued so that they won't hurt themselves.

"Yes TECO, you don't like EMACS. You know whats happens when you talk about EMACS though don't you? Here, Jerry Springer is on the telly. Thats it, you just sit there..."

Re:You know what we need? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596345)

We can build it next door to the half way house for crack addicted Slashdot moderators and victims of Taco Snotting in fact.

Re:You know what we need? (2, Informative)

ebbe11 (121118) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597415)

A home for abandoned & elderly Open Source projects.

Such a place [] has existed for some time now.

Does it really need improvement? (5, Insightful)

Eugene O'Neil (140081) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596332)

You say that the application is sufficient for your own needs. Isn't that enough? Rest on your laurels, and be satisfied with the project as it is. Don't go looking for someone to take it over, if someone is truly suited for the task, they will come looking for you.

Unlimited growth is the creed of the cancer cell.

Re:Does it really need improvement? (2, Interesting)

willhelm (12091) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596612)

Definitely. What I would do is announce on all your development/announcement mailing lists that you are ending your reign as maintainer and happy to hand over the project to someone else. Also put a blurb about this on your project website right on the front page. Make sure all source code is available--toss in a README file with all your final thoughts and things you were thinking of doing and whatever else. Make sure you copyright all the code and place it under whatever license is important to you. This involves adding license text to the top of every file in the project as well as adding a LICENSE file with the download.

Then just move on with your life. If someone finds your project and has an itch they need to scratch, they'll contact you about taking over or whatever.

That's what happened with Lyntin--Lyn stopped development and a year later I discovered the project and we chatted and I took over and moved it to sourceforge and so on so forth.

On the flip side, you can always take a super passive role on your project. If it does everything you want it to do, then it's "done" and you can just hang out and deal with patches if people send them in.

Re:Does it really need improvement? (1)

jdclucidly (520630) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596728)

Straight from 'The Cathedral and the Bazaar': 13. ``Perfection (in design) is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but rather when there is nothing more to take away.''

Mozilla 0.9.6 is out (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596333)

and it ROCKS!!!! Get it! Now!

let's try for #10 (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596334)


Re:let's try for #10 (-1, Offtopic)

I Have a Hard (538104) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596726)

CM you spastic fuck! How the hell are you?

Re:let's try for #10 (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596855)

I like the uid!

hard (5, Insightful)

stoopidguy (530032) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596335)

There is really no way of insuring that all of your own goals will be met. A new project leader means that they will put their ideas over yours, in 6 months you can take a look at the program and it will a total change from what you had/intended. But as the story suggests, send an email to the project's list and also post it on the page. Then just make sure the person you are handing it over to knows their stuff. If at all possible give it to someone who has been working on the project.

JON KATZ IS A LIAR (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596339)

WHY hasnt he responded to these accusations by the majority of the slashdot audience. This is an outrage. Slashdot is covering up for him. LETS SEE THE PROOF OF JUNIS.

Come now, be honest (5, Insightful)

sharkticon (312992) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596350)

Take a long look through the projects on SourceForge. Notice anything? That's right, most of them haven't been updated in well over a year, and most of them are being run by one person on their own.

Although open source projects hold great potential for cooperative development, it seems that in the real world there are few bazaars and plenty of lonely coders working on their own projects. Some of these are lucky enough to generate interest, but most don't. Then again, most aren't particularly novel anyway.

The truth is that there are a million projects out there, some of which are more far more [] worthy [] and interesting than the things suggested here. And if people are looking for something to contribute to, then they're going to go for these high-profile projects rather than someone's home-grown application.

So I guess you'll be lucky to find anyone to take these over (well apart from posting it on /. perhaps). Open source is great, but it only works for projects interesting enough to generate "many eyes" rather than someone's personal hobby code.

Re:Come now, be honest (3, Insightful)

Anthony Boyd (242971) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597722)

Open source is great, but it only works for projects interesting enough to generate "many eyes" rather than someone's personal hobby code.

Building on another post [] I made last week, I would rewrite your sentence as follows: "Open source is great, but it only works for projects interesting enough to generate interested contributors rather than someone's personal hobby code." Getting interested contributors doesn't require many eyes looking at the project, although it helps. It only really requires "luring" or "wooing" a couple like-minded people. Unfortunately, people tend to consolidate efforts and work on projects with the most critical mass. So a lone geek reinventing the wheel shouldn't be surprised to find that others want to put their efforts to the wheel that's already turning.

The two submissions are vastly different, (5, Funny)

tony_gardner (533494) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596355)

One has a finished, working code that needs patching, the other looks to me like someone who wants others to do his homework.

At that I've got an open source project I'd like finished:

A 3D first person RPG with overhead views that has MMP, LAN, and single player potential. Easy to mod, fantastic graphics and addictive gameplay.

work done:
downloaded gcc

anyone interested?

Re:The two submissions are vastly different, (1)

tony_gardner (533494) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596368)

and it should work on my pentium 2.

That's not how it works (1, Funny)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596454)

You want to download a finished debugged open source project? On top of that it must be a top-notch game?

The only way you can get that is: code it yourself, debug it yourself and test it yourself. Then release and await praise.

No, I don't do that either....

Funny you should mention... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596582)

A 3D first person RPG with overhead views that has MMP, LAN, and single player potential. Easy to mod, fantastic graphics and addictive gameplay.

Funny you should mention this...

Last weekend I started work on a similar project - but rather than making it FPS-style, I figured I'd build it in a client-server model (the client would almost be a 'dumb terminal' collecting & sending input events, and displaying data sent by the server.)

The initial client would probably be primitive, but with an open protocol, anyone could build a client that looked like anything they wanted (3D FPS, Diablo-like, whatever.)

I've currently got working server code that sends 'heartbeats' to the clients (connected via TCP.)

If you'd like to start work on a client that looks the way you want, let me know, and when I have some of the protocol documented, I'll send it to you. (This is probably at least a month away.)

And yes, I'm 100% serious.

Re:Funny you should mention... (2, Funny)

MaxwellStreet (148915) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596913)

If you're really 100% serious about getting someone to contact you, you might reconsider posting anonymously.

Just a suggestion . . .

Re:Funny you should mention... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2597064)

If you're really 100% serious about getting someone to contact you, you might reconsider posting anonymously.

It didn't stop you, did it? :o)

Re:The two submissions are vastly different, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2597546)

Thanks a lot - I damn near choked on my lunch that was so friggen funny.

i am wearing ladies underwear :) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596362)

and i am naughty..........

The Turd Report 11/21/2001 (-1)

The Turd Report (527733) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596363)

My turd today was quite regular. Which, considering the past few days, is a good thing. I was able to eat a ham and cheese sandwich last night and it stayed down and did not turn in to diareah. The sandwich made a good turd. I took a few moments to get it going but it came out nicely. It was a dark brown in color and did not stink much. It was your normal turd shape. I rate this turd at a 6.
Yesterday, in one of my fan's replies, a comment was made on low-flush toilets and how they are the bane of all people who use them. I have noted two types of these low-flush toilets. The first is a multi-flusher. These are the ones that you have to flush several times inorder to get the job done. These tiolets defeat the idea of a low-flush toilet, since you have to use just as much water as a regular toilet when you flush several times. C'mon, how retarded is that? The second type is the jet assisted flusher. These use a powerful jet of water to get the job done. The draw back is they will often times fling some parts of the turd out of the bowl. This is very disgusting, to say the least.

Re:The Turd Report 11/21/2001 (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596400)

I have a nice one turtling right now - should be dropping it off at the pool later in the afternoon. I had some weird pizza yesterday, so we'll see how it comes out. I almost dropped this one at home but my damn roommate used all the toilet paper up so I have been holding it all morning.

Re:The Turd Report 11/21/2001 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596429)

Thank you. My day is now that much more complete. Congratulations on getting your turds back to a semi-solid state.

Most residential low-flush toilets work better if you simply hold the handle down and and empty the entire tank.

Re:The Turd Report 11/21/2001 (-1, Troll)

grammar troll (537857) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596591)

Where I live, we have low-flush toilets. High-flush toilets are unknown here; I've heard about them, but never seen nor used one.

One inherent problem of low-flush toilets is "plop splash": a turd can build up considerable kinetic energy by the time it hits the water, causing a violent splash that splatters your undercarriage with drops of tainted water. I'm sure you're familiar with this, Turd Report, however you may not encounter this so often seeing that you regularly produce 50cm monsters, which must ease themselves down gently into the water much like Titanic did. Or so I imagine. (50cm! Christ almighty!)

There's not much that can be done about plop splash. One solution is lay down a layer of paper before shitting to moderate the effects of the impact, but that is wasteful of paper, and then we have to ask ourselves a difficult question: do we want to save water or trees?

It's the God-damned 21st century for fuck's sake, yet we still face so many annoying low-tech problems. Your bringing this topic up for discussion, Turd Report, may help us step a bit closer to a solution. Thanks!

Re:The Turd Report 11/21/2001 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596849)

The solution is pipelining.

As one other person noted, low-flush toilets often require two flushes to get the job done. In my case, I have found that the safest course is to take one wipe, then issue the first flush. This minimizes the risk of a clog.

Then, finish the wiping process until the paper comes clean.

But do not flush this time. Leave the paper in the bowl for next time, to help moderate the plop splash.


Re:The Turd Report 11/21/2001 (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597521)

I always create a 'landing pad' for my craps. Obviously the best route is to keep a good long log but sometimes they come out in parts - the worst is a pinched off log - that virtually guarantees a difficult wipe job. Sometimes I will move up into a high crouch position to keep the log intact - I am sure that is the technique used by the Turd Reporter as well. Crouching Dump, Hidden Crapper.

Re:Toilets (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2597108)

If you are in the market for a new toilet & you live in an area that requires the low-flush toilets, look for the ones with a plastic mini-tank inside the tank. When you flush, the water used comes from the small tank only, resulting in less water use.

With those, you cut vertical U-shaped slots from the top of the mini tank on both sides of the mini-tank. This way, water from the entire tank is used and you get a full flush.

not necessarily (3, Insightful)

indecision (21439) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596364)

If the current release has useful features and is relatively stable, then there's no reason for users to stop using it, especially so in the open source case since if they have problems they may well be able to fix the issues themselves. This is true of a few things I use myself.

What might well "die" is the evolution of the product; a user patching their own code is not likely to go through the effort of propogating their patch, when there's no active maintainer who they can simply email. The project may well end up not evolving further because of this, but hey if the program is mature, that isnt too much of a loss.

And then eventually someone might come along with an idea that uses the "stale" project as a seed for something greater, and start evolving it again.

Re:not necessarily (1)

crath (80215) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596702)

I agree, it's the evolution that dies not the use. I regularly make use of other people's half-finished software projects, most of which will never be completed, and this hasn't made them any less valuable to me.

The problem I encounter is that none of these projects has been GPL'ed, and half of them haven't had their source code released. For those for which I have source code, in most instances I have sent the authors patches; but few of the patches have ever been released back into the public code stream. Since the projects are not GPL'ed (or equivalent), I am not able to fork the project and carry it forward into its second life.

My plea to the authors of both the projects is for them to open source them, publish the source code, and announce to their users that they will no longer be maintaining the projects. As long as the projects are free to be carried forward by another maintainer, at their leisure, then someone will eventually pick it up.

Post to slashdot (2, Funny)

gregRowe (173838) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596370)

You could post to ask slashdot and you might find someone to take over your project...oh wait...

Re:Post to slashdot (0, Offtopic)

gregRowe (173838) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596427)

oops should have included

tags. It was a joke folks!

What's TortoiseCVS like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596383)

Is anyone here using TortoiseCVS? What's it like? It sounds like a good idea.

World URL (1)

yivi (236776) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596399)

Obviously, the URL for World, the Java Game, is this [] , and not the one submitted.

JFK found dead at age 42 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596408)

I just heard this on the radio. President John F. Kennedy was found dead in his Dallas motorcade early this afternoon--wait OH SHIT that's supposed to be tomorrow afternoon. Forget you saw this. Act surprised when it happens tomorrow.


Fink (1)

christurkel (520220) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596415)

When the leader of fink resigned, it was devastating; he started it, ntured it and it really was his baby. The rest of us got together via email and worked out new leadership. In short, announce your intention to move on and see who steps forward.

Wait for somebody to come to you... (4, Insightful)

dominion (3153) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596416)

Since you started the project because you had an itch to scratch, then your best bet is to just announce that you are no longer maintaining the codebase, and that if anybody starts updating it, and needs to contact you, that they should.

Wait for somebody else to have an itch to scratch. The idea that you need to "appoint" a new leader is contrary to the non-heirarchical nature of open-source.

Michael Chisari

which is why open-source is a failure (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596645)

Running a project without leadership results in the buggy ass heap of crap that is Linux. So i guess buggy-ass-crap is the "nature of open-source" too. Which is fine, other than the fact that yall bitch and moan endlessly about people not wanting to use your buggy-ass-crap.

Quick, someone blame Microsoft...

Re:Wait for somebody to come to you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596937)

While I agree on the 'wait until someone speaks up', I don't think he's wrong in looking out for potential candidates to take over the codebase. I'd first put the code in CVS (helps a lot to get the casual lurker involved) - that's apparently done, as subsection of cvsgui. Then I'd wait to see if there's one or more contributors asking for CVS write access. One of these might be interested in taking over the project.

This won't happen on the spot, though. You're in a hurry to get out of the project? If there's a couple of people actively contributing code, ask those if they're interested. They might even go as far as setting up CVS if you didn't already. Worked for me when I pulled out of the linux-mac68k project :-)

With no major contributor(s) in sight, it's probably best to announce you're orphaning the codebase, and wait a while. If there's no response (meaning a meaningful offer to take over, no whining), drop it.


open source addresses this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596421)

Won't the fact that it's open source take care of the issue? If someone cares, it will be picked up. If more the someone cares, it may fork. If nobody cares, it will become another freshmeat project with no work being done. Just let it go. The community will judge the worth.

Merge (1)

ScroP (536977) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596447)

Maybe you can find a project that you could merge your changes back into. If you started by finding a way to improve WinCVS, maybe you can merge those changes into thier source tree. Perhaps it could be a view option, like detailed list or small icon list type view in windows explorer. People could pick classic WinCVS or your style WinCVS views. How much work this would be depends though, on how different the two are. I don't know much about either project, but you get the idea of what I'm trying to say here as an alternative to finding a new owner. I think other projects must have done this before, but I don't remember which - wasn't it two of the newer .net implementations that did this? portable .net and some other one?

Re:Merge - yes, the correct answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596510)

Merge the code into WinCVS. And if those coroprate stuffy shirt big-wigs at GNU WinCVS don't want to merge - merge anyway - screw 'em.

Transferring the Open Source AI Leadership (0, Offtopic)

Mentifex (187202) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596451)

Eventually the torch is passed in all human endeavors, even the creation of Open Source Artificial Intelligence [] . But in the case of AI, a new species of Mind will be taking over from us human beings -- hopefully before we totally ruin our lush, green planet Earth.

As the creator, originator and suffer-the-slings-and-arrows propagator of the First True AI in Web-JavaScript [] and in Forth for robots, I await and issue The Call to new mindmakers [] by asking all PD AI enthusiasts not to join the actual Mentifex AI project itself, but to establish separate, mutually collaborative AI Mind projects to be linked together with such liaison pages as the Mind-to-VB [] page.

Early examples of independent, quasi-Mentifex AI Mind efforts include Mind.VB of 3.Apr.2000 [] -- ported from Mind.Forth AI.

A more recent port is from JavaScript into Mind.Java in June of 2001.

If some AI coder(s) will please take over the final stages leading to Technological Singularity [] , then we pioneers may turn to pondering the Theology of Artificial Intelligence [] . Amen!

Forgotten projects (1, Funny)

elgato1906 (301216) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596466)

Welcome to The Island of the Misfit toys.

I don't agree with some of the comments here (4, Interesting)

linuxrunner (225041) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596467)

I am reading this, because I am in the same boat and have some projects I would like to see continued, just that I no loger have the desire.

Most of the posts say, just let the community judge it.
Well that's fine if you have a large site that's really popular. But what if you don't?
Sure my site gets good traffic, but nothing fantastic.... I do not advertise, or offer anything substantial other than code.
My purpose is to code, not to get traffic....

So what's my alternative.... Be another freshmeat or sourceforge project that doesn't get traffic too? I mean go and see for yourself how many defunct projects there are..... and the list! Oh my god the list.... So many to go through, so many with no source code at all!

The solution:

And lots of it. These two projects will now probably get a home thanks to Slashdot.
My Proposal:
Maybe Slashdot can add a new feature.... Projects in need of a home, and can showcase a new project every day or week.

Re:I don't agree with some of the comments here (1)

Zurk (37028) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597101)

hmm..i would suggest just dumping it on sourceforge with an entry in the LSM and freshmeat. eventually someone will come along, send you an email and fork or pick up your project. i know ive done it once before...i found a dead project (not updated for 3 years) on the LSM, picked it up and integrated it into one of my projects i was using and cleaned and modernised it. then released a new version of it and im actively maintaining it since its integrated into one of my projects. as long as its GPL someone will find bits of it useful and pick it up. it may take a long time but if the code is in decent condition someone will put the effort required and use it. just make sure you have a relatively easy build process (even if you have no makefile a script helps) and write clean blocks of code (you dont need to doument -- you *do* need to have sane functions with meaningful names on the variables).

Re:I don't agree with some of the comments here (2)

j7953 (457666) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597221)

Maybe Slashdot can add a new feature.... Projects in need of a home, and can showcase a new project every day or week.

Like [] ?

why he wants to hand over and why it won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596479)

Just why do you really want to hand over? you say it yourself."I'd like to move on to other things"
well, that's the case with most project. There's a first stage with fast growth and gratifying, interesting and creative concept work, then there's a more boring part where you have to implement lots of necessary or commodity functions without novelty and then it gets really boring when it's mainly maintaining an existing codebase and keep it up to date or bugfixes.

and most projects just die because people do the interesting part but get bored afterwards and don't have the will to continue. And commercial projects that succeed do so because the salary is a strong argument to do the boring part too. For open source project, you need strong will.

So you say you've done the interesting part and are looking for someone to do the boring part, while you're looking back at the projet like a "grandfather" (i.e. the one who gets the credit and respect)

who would possibly be willing to do that, when it's much more gratifying and interesting to start a project of his own?

I (and the company) use it (4, Informative)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596486)

While I think that you might be disappointed that not many folks are actually supplying patches there are two reasons for this.

1) It is really good and does not need much in terms of patches. I use it all the time and I love it.

2) Debugging a Windows Shell Extension is a royal pain in the ass. I actually tried to debug Tortoise because I wanted to change a few things. But I gave up when debugging became difficult.

As a result it says one thing. You did a great job....

Re:I (and the company) use it (1)

jekk (15278) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596705)

Hear hear!

I use TortiseCVS, and it's wonderful. I'd even be willing to donate a small amount of money to help support the maintainer if that's necessary to attract one, but knowing the general practice on that grounds I do NOT recommend that you try to collect donations and pay someone... true volunteers are your only hope. With something of the quality of TortiseCVS, there's got to be SOMEBODY out there who wants the fame...

walk away (2, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596488)

I realize that you have a personal investment of time, effort, etc. I know you'd love to make sure your "child" is in good hands. But the appropriate thing is to just drop it and walk away. If there is interest in continued development someone will take up the task.

Cathedral and Bazaar (2)

aridhol (112307) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596493)

I just finished reading the Cathedral and the Bazaar [] . It talks about Popclient becoming Fetchmail. The way this happened was ESR sent patches to the author and found out that the project was almost dead. This led to the original author handing over the reins to ESR.

easy (3, Insightful)

Chundra (189402) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596494)

Write a little message on your website saying something like:

"I have given up working on this software. You are free to use it as usual. It works fine, and I can't think of anything else I want to do with it. If you'd like to take over the project and add new and exciting features, please contact me at [insert email here]. Cheers."

What's the problem?

blah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596517)

i am no longer constipated

Consider a BSD license (5, Insightful)

alexhmit01 (104757) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596522)

If there aren't people interested, your best bet is to try to come up with a way to generate interest. Setup a set of web pages describing it, and submit it to the search engines. Place the code under the GPL or BSDL, and hope that people take an interest. Ask them to e-mail you, as you are looking for a maintainer.

However, as the code is Free, anyone can take it and use it. It appears that you are looking for free labor to do your bidding. Sorry, the world doesn't work that way. You can close up your code and it dies, or you can put it out there and hope that someone will do something with it.

With the BSD license, someone may take your code and use it, even if in a non-free capacity. With the GPL, they may use it but only in a free capacity.

You aren't interested, so move on. If you want others to benefit from your work, make it easy to find (properly built web pages to search engines can find it) and place it out for the world.

Maybe someone will use it, maybe not. Maybe they'll e-mail you questions, maybe not.

If you're done however, accept it and move on.

If there was a large team of coders working on the project, than this question makes sense. If you were providing genuine leadership, it makes sense to find a replacement.

However, they appear to be software projects that you are done with. Put the code up there. People can use it, or not. People should download it, decide where to go, and setup a fork. If you are lucky, 2-3 projects will form using your code. If not, none will.

Regardless, there is no maintainer/leadership issue, as these are solo projects.

Best of luck,

Re:Consider a BSD license (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596729)

Are you a Chinese or something. Its GPL and open-
source. You dork. He is asking someone to take
over his project. He's done with it. Could it be
more simplier? You just want to flame? What is the
problem with you?!

Shallow Footsteps in jism lakes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596641)

You should first start going on the discussion windows groups...then maybe irc...but I would recommend that you switch more to a background advisor in case the project goes out of control

Unmaintained Free Software (5, Informative)

uh1763 (138735) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596670)

Hi all.

OK, shameless plug, but anyways, this is IMHO exactly what these people are looking for...

Unmaintained Free Software [] is a site which keeps track of unmaintained (or orphaned) Free Software related projects.

It's a central place for people who want to

  • find out whether a project is unmaintained or not
  • find a project they can work on
  • announce that their own project is not maintained anymore and that they search a new maintainer for it
  • gather some statistical data about why Free Software related projects become unmaintained, how long it takes to find a new maintainer (if at all), etc...

The ultimate goal of the site is to help find a new maintainer for software which is currently unmaintained.

Any comments, questions or other feedback (patches anyone?) is highly welcome...


Re:Unmaintained Free Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596837)

change the colors

Re:Unmaintained Free Software (2)

starseeker (141897) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597300)

Actually, I've wanted to thank you guys for doing what you do, although not necessarily for just the finding maintainers part.

Sometimes saving old code is the best way to get a new developer going, or let someone find a good way to do something without having to reinvent the wheel. The project doesn't have to be renewed - just as a knowledge base in itself it's extremely valuable.

So anyway, thanks.

a post on slashdot's front page (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2596763)

Is probably a good start.
or perhaps you already thought of that?


I use TortoiseCVS and I have only 1 question. (1)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596790)

Why would you need someone to maintain perfect software? Francis is a fantastic programmer, and his stuff is very useful. I'm sad to hear he's leaving TortoiseCVS, but I also think his time is wasted there (it's done). I'm looking forward to seeing what new projects he's going to work on.

Everybuddy/GAIM (2, Interesting)

Admiral Lazzurs (96382) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596838)

I am now the maintainer of Everybuddy [] but it was not always so.

The previous maintainer was a man called Torrey Searle, and he was also one of the people who have helped with GAIM (our projects are very intertwined, I really should write a history some day). The way is worked for us was something like this.

Torrey was like your selfs way too busy to keep up work on the project, I was always working away, reporting bugs and such, as I seemed like the most active devel on the project it must have seemed to him that I was the logical choice. The story goes pritty much the same with GAIM incase anyone was wondering.

However, in your case there are no other active devels, but I am sure that this /. apperence will help with that, then you will be able to choose who will take the project in the direction you want it to go.

Also in my case, Torrey looks in every so often and wakes me up, he has moved a lot closer to me as well (he used to be in the US, he has now moved to Europe, and I live in the UK) so we are planning to meet up some time soon, so I am sure we will have a chat about eb then.

The last thing I would have to say is make sure you get along with this person, it would be very hard if you a few months down the line find you have given 'your baby' to someone who is nothing like you and you don't get along with.

Take care all - Robert Lazzurs

Wanted: free labour (4, Insightful)

czth (454384) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596846)

I am happy to give the code away if a team of developers want to continue developing it. I can act as a grandfather figure to the project to give guidance and wisdom, and to clarify what my vision was, and what the code does. I'd prefer it to be GPL'd or a similar license that won't shut the code up.

Your "vision"? My that sounds pompous. If someone else is willing to take over, they won't want the crutch of having to take orders from someone else; open source is about freedom. If they do take suggestions from you, be happy, but don't think you'll be able to sit there like a god and direct your minions how to code "your" project. When you hand it over, you hand it over. It's not yours any more. And depending on the quality of the code and how finished it is (I quote: "I had always intended to finish it"), perhaps nobody will want it. Think of it it as evolution in action :).

The first case is much different; it describes a project whose author has fulfilled all his goals for it and wants to pass it on to keep it "live", as I see it. TortoiseCVS may just require the occasional fix and feature addition; it sounds like a stable program. I'll probably try it out, as I currently use WinCVS at work.

Re:Wanted: free labour (1)

anderman (242958) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596925)

Yes his vision. Try reading what he said again and understanding it as well. Usually when you transfer a project to someone you tell them what you were aiming for, note his use of past tense WAS. Sounds like he wanted to be helpful while the new people took over to give them a shorter transition period in learning his stuff.

scratch that itch! (2, Funny)

cr@ckwhore (165454) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596977)

When I started out, I had an itch to scratch.

Phew! Good thing you didn't say "I had to scratch an itch", because thats would have been silly.

Tortoise Rocks! (5, Informative)

nambit (264147) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596995)

I found tortoise after needing something to let a designer keep his pages in the same CVS repository as my code. All i can say is that it's absolutly fantastic - the designer hasn't really got a clue about CVS, but using tortoise is so simple it hurts...

right-click, "commit"...
right-click, "update"...

makes me smile whenever i see emails from the cvs server with the designer's name on them.

to the guy who wrote it - thank you so much for making using cvs a joy under windows. what on earth do you think tortoise should be doing that it isn't now? the thing's finished as far as i can see! (and yes, that does mean it sends email ;-)

goals? (0)

Psychopax (525557) | more than 12 years ago | (#2596996)

It's not clear whether you still have goals for this software or it already meets all your goals..? On the one hand you say it does all you wanted it to do on the other hand you are searching for someone with "your goals".. just not clear for me..

The abandonware problem (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597028)

There's quite a bit of open-source abandonware. That's inevitable, but in many cases, the only open-source solution to some problem has been abandoned, or nearly abandoned.

I've been writing a graphics application which uses several open-source libraries. So far there's a cross-platform OpenGL interface, a GUI package for OpenGL, an XML input/output package, and a VRML->Web3D translator. All of them almost work. All are to some extent abandonware. I've put some work into fixing the GUI package, but don't have the time to dig into all the others.

And we're going to be in real trouble when (not if, when; read their financials) VA tanks and takes SourceForge down with it.

post it on (3, Informative)

utoddl (263055) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597112)

If you have or know of a project that no longer has its leader(s), post it on [] . At least people will have a chance to find it. Check it out; you might be surprised what's there -- gs [] f'rinstance.

Not gonna happen (3, Interesting)

KidSock (150684) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597204)

You won't find anyone. A prerequisite is that they find you. To pass the torch it will invariably be necessary that the candadate become interested in the project on their own recognisence. This is just human nature. They need to feel like they discovered it in a way thus making it important by induction. To say that you have done everything with the project and that your "done" is not going to enlightlen anyone to step up. Programmers are rather finiky about what they will put work into for free (and you can forget about good programmers). Remember when your grandmother gave you those coins and told you she though you should start collecting too? You didn't did you? Whereas if she had layed them out when you came over and didn't say anything and was kooth about it you just might have become interested in that coin collection. If she was really slick about it (and it was a good coin collection) you'd probably start asking her about her will.

Ggradebook also looking for new maintainer (0)

Norbert de Jonge (1225) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597270)

The Ggradebook (GNU Gradebook) Project is also looking for a new maintainer, since the 17th of November, 2001.

"Lack of free time is causing the current Ggradebook Project maintainer to look for a new maintainer! If you think you're qualified, please send an e-mail to: [mailto] . For a maintainer, motivation, enthusiasm and communicative skills are more important than programming skills..."

The Ggradebook websites can be found here: [] []

With best regards,

Norbert de Jonge

Well documented code may attract developers (3, Insightful)

KurtSteinkraus (28035) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597305)

Any developer who joins a project in progress has to learn how the parts of the program are laid out. It seems that the learning curve could be made less steep by documenting the program well. Comments are not the only helpful documentation; there are also object models and diagrams of all sorts, detailed specifications, use cases, coding conventions, etc.

The class I TA for at MIT is 6.170: Lab in Software Engineering [] . We force the students to learn how to write software using these documentation tools, in part to help them come up with better designs, but in part so that they can work more effectively as a team in their final project.


Do what the ministers do (2, Interesting)

GreenCrackBaby (203293) | more than 12 years ago | (#2597718)

My father was a minister, and he followed an unwritten (I think) rule that said pretty much "when you leave a church, LEAVE it." Horror stories abound of retired ministers who still attended the old church they used to preach at.

This should be no different. By all means hand the project over, but then sever all ties to the project. Accept the fact that someone else is at the helm, and they may have a different vision than you.

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