Thierry Carrez, director of engineering at the OpenStack Foundation, helps you avoid the most obvious traps on your way to becoming an official project.


OpenStack development is organized around a mission, a governance model and a set of principles. Project teams apply for inclusion, and the Technical Committee (TC), elected by all OpenStack contributors, judges whether that team work helps with the OpenStack mission and follows the OpenStack development principles. If it does, the team is considered part of the OpenStack development community and its work is considered an official OpenStack project.

The main effect of being official is that it places the team work under the oversight of the Technical Committee. In exchange, recent contributors to that team are considered Active Technical Contributors (ATCs), which means they can participate in the vote to elect the Technical Committee.


When you want to create a new official OpenStack project, the first thing to check is whether you’re doing it for the right reasons. In particular, there is no need to be an official OpenStack project to benefit from our outstanding project infrastructure (Git repositories, Gerrit code reviews, cloud-powered testing and gating). There is also no need to place your project under the OpenStack Technical Committee oversight to be allowed to work on something related to OpenStack. And ATC status no longer brings additional benefits, beyond the TC election voting rights.

From a development infrastructure standpoint, OpenStack provides the governance, the systems and the neutral asset lock to create open collaboration grounds. On those grounds, multiple organizations and individuals can cooperate on a level playing field, without one organization in particular owning a given project.

So if you’re not interested in having new organizations contribute to your project, or would prefer to retain full control over it, it probably makes sense to not ask to become an official OpenStack project. Same if you want to follow slightly different principles, or want to relax certain community rules, or generally would like to behave a lot differently than other OpenStack projects.


Still with me? So, what would be a good project team to propose for inclusion? The most important aspect is that the topic you’re working on must help further the OpenStack Mission, which is:

to produce a ubiquitous Open Source Cloud Computing platform that is easy to use, simple to implement, interoperable between deployments, works well at all scales, and meets the needs of users and operators of both public and private clouds.”

It’s also very important that the team seamlessly merges into the OpenStack Community. It must adhere to the Four Opens and follow the OpenStack principles. The Technical Committee made a number of choices to avoid fragmenting the community into several distinct silos. All projects use Gerrit to propose changes, IRC to communicate, a set of approved programming languages… Those rules are not set in stone, but we are unlikely to change them just to facilitate the addition of one given new project team. All those requirements are summarized in the new project requirements document.

The new team must also know its way around our various systems, development tools and processes. Ideally, the team would be formed from existing OpenStack community members; if not the Project Team Guide is there to help you getting up to speed.


OK, you’re now ready to make the plunge. One question you might ask yourself is whether you should contribute your project to an existing project team, or ask to become a new official project team.

Since the recent project structure reform (a.k.a. the “big tent”), work in OpenStack is organized around groups of people, rather than the general topic of your work. So you don’t have to ask the Neutron team to adopt your project just because it is about networking. The real question is more: “is it the same team working on both projects?” Does the existing team feel like they can vouch for this new work, and/or are willing to adapt their team scope to include it? Having two different groups under a single team and PTL only creates extra governance problems. So if the teams working on it are distinct enough, then the new project should probably be filed separately.

Another question you might ask yourself is whether alternate implementations of the same functionality are OK. Is competition allowed between official projects? On one hand competition means dilution of effort, so you want to minimize it. On the other you don’t want to close evolutionary paths, so you need to let alternate solutions grow. The Technical Committee answer to that is: alternate solutions are allowed, as long as they are not gratuitously competing. Competition must be between two different technical approaches, not two different organizations or egos. Cooperation must be considered first. This is all the more important the deeper you go in the stack: it’s obviously a lot easier to justify competition on an OpenStack installer (which consumes all other projects), than on AuthN/AuthZ (which all other projects rely on).


Let’s do this! How to proceed? The first and hardest part is to pick a name. We want to avoid having to rename the project later due to trademark infringement, once it has built some name recognition. A good rule of thumb is that if the name sounds good, it’s probably already used somewhere. Obscure made-up names, or word combinations are less likely to be a registered trademark than dictionary words (or person names). Online searches can help weeding out the worst candidates. Please be good citizens and also avoid collision with other open source project names, even if they are not trademarked.

Step two: you need to create the project on OpenStack infrastructure. See the Infra manual for instructions, and reach out on the #openstack-infra IRC channel if you need help.

The final step is to propose a change to the openstack/governance repository, to add your project team to the reference/projects.yaml file. That will serve as the official request to the Technical Committee, so be sure to include a very informative commit message detailing how well you fill the new projects requirements. Good examples of that would be this change or this one.


The timing of the request is important. In order to assess whether the new team behaves like the rest of the OpenStack community, the Technical Committee usually requires that the new team operates on OpenStack infrastructure (and collaborates on IRC and the mailing-list) for a few months.

We also tend to freeze new team applications during the second part of the development cycles, as we start preparing for the release and the PTG. So the optimal timing would be to set up your project on OpenStack infrastructure around the middle of one cycle, and propose for official inclusion at the start of the next cycle (before the first development milestone). Release schedules are published here.

That’s it!

I hope this article will help you avoid the most obvious traps on your way to becoming an official OpenStack project. Feel free to reach out to me (or any other Technical Committee member) if you have questions or would like extra advice!

Thierry Carrez is director of engineering at the OpenStack Foundation and OpenStack Technical Committee chair. This post first appeared on the ttx:reloaded blog.

Superuser is always interested in community content, email: [email protected].


Cover Photo // CC BY NC

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