OSGeo is the acronym for the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, created to support and build the highest-quality open source geospatial software.
The Open Source Geospatial Foundation was created to support and build the highest-quality open source geospatial software. The goal is to encourage the use and collaborative development of community-led projects.
The Open Source Geospatial Foundation, or OSGeo, is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support and promote the collaborative development of open geospatial technologies and data. The foundation provides financial, organizational and legal support to the broader open source geospatial community. It also serves as an independent legal entity to which community members can contribute code, funding and other resources, secure in the knowledge that their contributions will be maintained for public benefit. OSGeo also serves as an outreach and advocacy organization for the open source geospatial community, and provides a common forum and shared infrastructure for improving cross-project collaboration.
The foundation's projects are all freely available and useable under an OSI-certified open source license.
The diagram shows the structure of OSGeo.
The most important part of OSGeo is the membership. OSGeo has several thousand active contributors and users who work on the geospatial software projects, open data and create a curriculum. A subset of the membership forms the "Charter Members" who formally own the organization. Each year new members are elected into Charter Members by the existing members, this is to ensure that the growing community is globally representated but also to prevent a hostile take-over (which nbowadays is highly unlikely but was a potential risk in the early days). The Charter Members elect the board of directors out of their midst. This is done in a 'staggered' process meaning that each year only half of the board members are reelected or replaced to ensure continuity. This results in a two year term for each director.
The OSGeo Membership is spread all over the world and some regions, countries or groups have formed Local Chapters to organize things locally and spread word in their own language or domain. The Local Chapters can be legal organizations in their own standing which in some cases operate their own finances, bank account and so on. In other cases Local Chapters are much less formal and offer a nice way to communicate with like minded people of the same region or area of interest.
Some of the work is done in self organizing Committees. Currently there are 9 official committees:
- System Administration keeping the infrastructure running.
- Incubation Committee inspecting software projects for correct functioning before awarding them the status of an officially graduated OSGeo project.
- Marketing committee focuses on outreach and spreading word, one of the most important outward facing tasks for OSGeo.
- The Education committee works on an Open Source based curriculum and supports research and academia.
- The Public Geospatial Data Committee provides a growing list of freely available data, links to external resources and supports open data policies.
- The Website Committee maintains the web presences of OSGeo, primarily the web site and Wiki.
- The Financial Committee maintains the bank accounts, manages transfers and issues invoices.
- The Conference Committee focuses on long term management of the FOSS4G conference, issues the Call for Location, decides which country will be the venue for the next conference and oversees the correct functioning of the Local Organizing Committees.
- The Board of Directors responsible for managing the organization, budget and signing legal documents
This is the heart of OSGeo and also the place where all the software is developed. Projects can apply to become an OSGeo project (and use the infrastructure, communication channels and legal patronage of the OSGeo Foundation). Once accepted the Incubation Committee appoints a mentor and inspects the project for community functioning, legal issues, copyright, code quality and ownership of the code base. Once everything is checked and amended to abide by the rules of OSGeo the project graduates and becomes an official OSGeo Foundation Project.
Officers & Vice Presidents
Each Committee elects a chair and Foundation Projects appoint a liaison officer who become Vice Presidents of the Foundation and report and communicate with the Board of Directors.
OSGeo-Live (http://live.osgeo.org/) is a self-contained bootable DVD, USB thumb drive or Virtual Machine based on Xubuntu, that allows you to try a wide variety of open source geospatial software without installing anything. It is composed entirely of free software, allowing it to be freely distributed, duplicated and passed around.
It provides pre-configured applications for a range of geospatial use cases, including storage, publishing, viewing, analysis and manipulation of data. It also contains sample datasets and documentation.
Sponsors have a vital role in keeping OSGeo alive by supporting the Foundation through monetary funds or hardware donations. There are several levels and different ways to sponsor OSGeo including direct sponsorship of OSGeo projects or general support of the Foundation itself.
OSGeo was founded in February 2006. It has now (2011) several thousand active members, 400 active developers working on a variety of different projects with a total of 15 million lines of code.
On 2011-06-27 Arnulf gave a presentation titled "OSGeo - Spatially Empowered Open Source" in the technology track of the 2011 Cambridge Conference. It introduces to the concepts of Free Software, Open Source and how they differ to proprietary business models and goes into details of the structure of OSGeo. Feel free to download the slide set and reuse it: