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What is the Apache Software Foundation?

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, incorporated in Delaware, USA, in June of 1999. The ASF is a natural outgrowth of The Apache Group, which formed in 1995 to develop the Apache HTTP Server.

A board of directors, elected by the ASF membership on an annual basis according to the corporation's bylaws, oversees management of the Foundation. The board appoints a set of officers to manage the day-to-day operations of the Foundation and to oversee the ASF projects. A Project Management Committee (PMC), a self-selected team of active contributors, manages each project following The Apache Way and whatever additional guidelines for collaborative development are best suited to that project.

Why was the Apache Software Foundation created?

The Foundation was formed primarily to

  1. provide a foundation for open, collaborative software development projects by supplying hardware, communication, and business infrastructure

  2. create an independent legal entity to which companies and individuals can donate resources and be assured that those resources will be used for the public benefit

  3. provide a means for individual volunteers to be sheltered from legal suits directed at the Foundation's projects

  4. protect the 'Apache' brand, as applied to its software products, from being abused by other organizations

Why was the name 'Apache' chosen?

The name 'Apache' was chosen from respect for the various Native American nations collectively referred to as Apache, well-known for their superior skills in warfare strategy and their inexhaustible endurance. It also makes a cute pun on "a patchy web server" -- a server made from a series of patches -- but this was not its origin. The group of developers who released this new software soon started to call themselves the "Apache Group".

Is the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) a Corporation?

Yes, the ASF is a membership-based corporation registered in Delaware, United States. It is a registered non-profit charity, and has received 501(c)(3) status from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. However, even if something happens that changes that status, the ASF is still a not-for-profit enterprise.

Does being a Foundation bring additional burdens on how Apache operates?

Along with being a corporation come some mandated processes and structures.

The people who have the responsibility of watching over the Foundation's activities, and keeping them on track and out of trouble, are the ASF's Board of Directors. The board consists of nine individuals elected by the Foundation's membership and invested by the membership with the authority to run the Foundation and make tactical and strategic decisions concerning it. This is necessary and essential work which makes the work of creating, releasing and supporting software products possible.

Why are PMC Chairs officers of the corporation?

An officer of the corporation, by definition, acts on behalf of the corporation. The PMC chair provides for their project the oversight that the ASF requires.

Since the officer is acting on behalf of the corporation, there is no personal liability -- standard corporate assumption of liability occurs. If the officer was not acting in accordance with their stated role, then yes: they would be personally liable.

Since the ASF assumes liability, it responds on behalf of individual projects when there are complaints or even legal action.

Officers and members are further indemnified in accordance with our bylaws (meaning we also take care of their legal expenses if they are sued due to their role's actions).

In essence, PMC chairs must be officers because the board can only delegate things to employees or officers. It is impossible to delegate authority to someone who has no authority.

The last three are covered by section 12.1 of the Bylaws (but that section does not explicitly discuss project committers and PMC members).

Who are the members of the ASF?

The current list of ASF members is at <http://www.apache.org/foundation/members.html> .

Who owns the Apache code?

All software developed within the Foundation belongs to the ASF, and therefore the members. The members own the code and the direction of it and the Foundation. Committers work on their project's code; good committers become ASF members and thus share the ownership of the software and the foundation's decision-making.

Commit access is a privilege, not a right, and is based on trust.

How do I join the ASF?

The Apache Software Foundation is a meritocracy, which means that, to become a member, you must first be actively contributing to one or more of the Foundation's collaborative projects. New candidates for membership are nominated by an existing member and then put to vote; a majority of the existing membership must approve a candidate in order to the candidate to be accepted.

Is it true that some companies are part of Apache?

No.

The membership of the ASF is composed of individuals, not companies. The members have a legal stake in the ASF.

This does not mean that individuals that work at a company cannot contribute to Apache, quite the contrary. We have a specific extra CLA to assure that individuals can clearly contribute to the ASF during "work time".

It is also expected that the members are acting solely on behalf of the ASF when wearing their ASF hats, regardless of their employer. See further discussion about individuals and hats.

What are the ASF projects?

The current list of projects operating under the auspices of the Apache Software Foundation can be found at <http://www.apache.org/foundation/projects.html> .

How does the ASF help its projects?

As a corporate entity, the Apache Software Foundation is able to be a party to contracts, such as for technical services or guarantee-bonds for conferences. It can also accept donations on behalf of its projects, clarifying any associated tax issues, and create additional self-funded services via community-building activities, such as Apache-related T-shirts and user conferences.

In addition, the Foundation provides a framework for limiting the legal exposure of individual volunteers while they work on behalf of one of ASF projects. In the past, these volunteers were personally vulnerable to lawsuits, whether legitimate or frivolous, which impaired many activities that might have significantly improved contributions to the projects and benefited our users.

How can I contribute to the ASF and its projects?

There are many ways you can make a valuable contribution to the Foundation.

How can I donate money to the ASF?

Instructions for donating money are on our contributing page.

Are donations to the ASF tax-deductible?

The tax status of the ASF is discussed on our contributing page.

I am considering starting an open-source software project. Can you help?

Send proposals to the Apache Incubator.

We are an active open-source software project with a synergistic relationship with Apache. Can you help?

Send proposals to the Apache Incubator

What is Apache about?

Transparancy, consensus, non-affiliation, respect for fellow developers, and meritocracy, in no specific order.

What is Apache not about?

Treating others with disrespect, making code decisions outside of the project processes, demanding that someone else fix the bugs you created.

Where can I find ASF releases?

Current Apache releases are available for download on the releases page of each project's website. Until the third quarter of 2021 Apache used a system of download mirrors to make the releases conveniently available around the world. Since then, all releases are distributed through a global content distribution network (CDN).

All releases are automatically copied to the archives and remain present on archive.apache.org even after they have been removed from projects' releases pages. So, if you are looking for an old Apache release that is no longer a project's releases page, or need to refer to a permanent location (such as for legal notices), use a link to the archives. But if you want the latest stable releases, visit the website of the (Apache project) you are interested in.

How do I contact projects and people?

Go to the website for the specific project that interests you. Also see the Contact Apache FAQ and, if all that fails, go to the contact page.

I have a licensing question. Where do I ask it?

See the page on Licensing, the Licensing FAQ, and the information on the Legal Affairs page. We address specific questions about trademarks of The Apache Software Foundation on the Trademark Policy page.