Open practice

Being open about our work is vital if our ideas are to take hold for others to replicate them and benefit society. If we can shorten the time it takes a good idea to spread, by living out loud, then the results will speak for themselves.

That is why we insist on open licenses, open source and open reporting.

Open reporting

Even though, as a private foundation, we are not legally bound to disclose our accounting information, successes and failures, since 2004, we have been demonstrating our commitment to speak openly about what we have done, our contribution to change, and exactly how much that costs.

Open source

The Shuttleworth Foundation subscribes to and promotes the ethos and philosophy embodied in free and open source software – collaboration and the freedom to use, adapt and share resources.

The Foundation does not fund the development of free and open source software or initiatives with the development or advocacy of free and open source software as the primary objective.

We rather apply the free and open source philosophy as the underlying principle to our work, collaborating with partners to drive change and using open licences to allow learnings and resources to be used, adapted and shared widely. We also give preference to the use of free and open source software in our own initiatives and encourage the same in our partners.

Open licensing

The Shuttleworth Foundation believes that open licensing can provide powerful fuel for innovation. We’ve seen this at a large scale in the technology world with open source. We believe that open licensing also has the potential to spark and accelerate social innovation. Our Open Resource Statement outlines our policy on open licensing for materials created or funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation.
Open resources statement

The Foundation is committed to opening intellectual resources funded, created or co-created by the Foundation. We call these ‘Foundation supported resources’. Resources specifically include software, designs, project reports, manuals, research results and other intellectual creations. Foundation supported resources shall be open resources as far as reasonably possible.

The Foundation invests in Fellows to bring about positive change. Fellows, as stewards of Foundation funded resources, are responsible for ensuring that resources are open. To ensure that Foundation investments result in resources open for remix and sharing, agreements entered into by the Foundation which govern the creation of resources require that Foundation supported resources be made publicly and freely available under a licence that permits use and reuse by anyone.

Resources subject to copyright and database rights must be made open, as defined in the Open Definition :  “A piece of data or content is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike”. Software resources must be licensed with a license that conforms with the Open Source Definition. Hardware shall be open as defined in the Open Source Hardware Definition.


Whilst we start from a principle of open, the Foundation recognises that at times there are specific compelling reasons for explicit exemptions to these principles in respect to particular resources. Considerations of privacy, confidentiality, security and utility may preclude making certain documents or information available outside the Foundation or outside of initiatives pioneered by Fellows. When resources are not made open then they may, when suitable, be made available on an open access basis, which permits copying but does not allow any changes.

Exemptions like these need to be specifically agreed with the Foundation in advance. The decision to exempt a resource from any requirement under the open resources principle and the justification for the exemption will be recorded and reported.

Fear of unforeseeable consequences or of the negative reactions of others, or the desire to use patents to raise capital are not compelling reasons to depart from the commitment to open.