Episode 117

Mike McQuaid of Homebrew on Sustainably Working on OSS Projects


April 15th, 2022

45 mins 48 secs

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode


Mike McQuaid


Richard Littauer

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! The podcast where we talk about software sustainability for the long haul. Today, I’m very excited to have as my guest from Edinburgh, Mike McQuaid, who’s a Principal Engineer at GitHub and the Project Leader of Homebrew. Mike fills us in on Homebrew, how he became the Project Lead, and the Homebrew journey towards software sustainability. We also find out how Mike applies Brené Brown’s acronym “BRAVING” to his work on open source, and about his involvement with GitHub Sponsors. Go ahead and download this episode now to find out much more!

[00:01:26] Mike explains what Homebrew is, who originally created it, and how he became one of the lead maintainers.

[00:05:41] Since Mike is the Homebrew Project Leader at GitHub, Richard wonders why they need an OSX related package manager and Mike explains how that happened.

[00:07:06] We learn how Mike worked on Homebrew as open source on company time and the importance of choosing priorities.

[00:11:57] Mike goes in depth about the Homebrew sustainability journey, mentoring other maintainers, and the value of feature flagging in Homebrew.

[00:16:45] Richard wonders how Mike talks to people about whether or not they’re a good candidate to be a mentor.

[00:20:12] We hear about the meaning of the “BRAVING” acronym from Brené Brown’s podcast and book, and how it applies to Mike’s work on open source.

[00:25:36] Where is there room in Mike’s open source boundary setting for grace?

[00:31:07] Mike was on the GitHub Sponsors team and we find out how he got involved with it, and why it has been such a valuable contribution to the open source ecosystem.

[00:37:05] We learn what Mike thinks the next step of sustainability might be in terms of helping open source maintainers from a non-individualistic approach.

[00:42:15] Find out where you can follow Mike on the web.


[00:22:12] “I think boundaries are the most important part of open source sustainability, at the end of the day you should be only working on the stuff that you want to be working on.”


  • [00:43:16] Richard’s spotlight is Forest Café in Edinburgh.
  • [00:43:57] Mike’s spotlight is a search tool called, ripgrep.



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