How New OSS Communities And Code Bases Are Developed From Old Ones

Jesse Hood | OpenLogic | July 24, 2013

Open source software developers modify significant amounts of source code for a variety of different reasons.  Depending on the amount of modification, the number of developers doing the fragmentation (sometimes called a “fork” in the code), the status of these developers in the community, and the intention of the development community, the results could be just a few lines of updated code, or it could be a complete fork of the code base that takes the open source project in an entirely new direction.  This blog article summarizes some of the reasons individual developers, or entire OSS communities, will intentionally fork an existing code base.

1.     Building an entirely new project

Possibly the most well-known and recent example of a leading open source author intentionally forking his project to make a brand new one is the development of MariaDB.  MariaDB was created by Michael “Monty” Widenius, the original author of the MySQL database. Michael sold the MySQL project to Sun Microsystems several years ago.  In 2009 and 2010, after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, Michael became concerned with the commercial direction that Oracle was taking the database, so he forked the code of MySQL community version to build MariaDB.