Balancing Corporate Need and Community Good: Thoughts from the Xen Project

Short Form


When you have a project with strong corporate interest, how do you safeguard the Open Source community life and values? How do you keep Open Source from being simply another corporate development methodology when it is, in fact, the key to geek empowerment?


In the 1990s, geeks throughout the world began to experience empowerment through FOSS. Instead of being just power tools of some corporate computing bureaucracy, geeks became empowered to make their own decisions about what projects to pursue, what features to include, and what designs to employ. Most people didn’t have jobs which involved creating Open Source software, but they dreamed of the day when they’d be paid to work with FOSS.

Today, many people in the FOSS world have corporate jobs involving their development of FOSS software. But this corporate involvement can jeopardize the empowerment which FOSS brings, as corporate interests once again can begin to overrule the decisions of geeks. How can a project team meet corporate needs while not sacrificing the autonomy and power of individuals?

In this session, we will review some of the techniques used by the Xen Project team to balance corporate need with community good. We will discuss project governance which attempts to protect the rights of individuals while paying careful attention to the needs of businesses. We will review the value of involvement in empowerment programs like Google Summer of Code and GNOME Outreach Program for Women. We will also consider the difficulties of involving non-corporate contributors into a complex project which essentially operates at the kernel level.


Xen Project, virtualization, corporate, community

Speaking experience

I have spoken at over 50 Open Source conferences, including OSCON, Texas Linux Fest, Linuxfest Northwest, SCALE, Southeast Linuxfest, SUSEcon, openSUSE Summit, CPOSC, Xen Project User Summit, CloudOpen, LinuxWorld, and Build-a-Cloud Day. Complete list at .

This talk is a partial derivative of the talk "15 Years of Open Source: It's About the People" which was delivered at openSUSE Summit and CPOSC in 2013. Slides to that talk can be found at .


  • Picture of me 2

    Russell Pavlicek

    Xen Project & Citrix Systems


    Russell Pavlicek has been a speaker at over 50 open source conferences. A Linux user since 1995, he was an Open Source columnist for Infoworld and Processor magazines, as well as a former panelist on The Linux Show weekly webcast. He has over 20 years experience delivering software services. He currently employed by Citrix Systems as an evangelist for the Xen Project.