Episode 210

Dr. Bryan Behrenshausen on GitLab


December 1st, 2023

33 mins 17 secs

Your Hosts
Special Guest

About this Episode


Dr. Bryan G. Behrenshausen


Leslie Hawthorn | Abby Cabunoc Mayes

Show Notes

In this episode, hosts Leslie Hawthorn from Red Hat and Abby Cabunoc Mayes from GitHub, welcome Dr. Bryan G. Behrenshausen, a Senior Open Source Program Manager at GitLab. This episode delves deep into the world of open source, discussing its importance, challenges, and how companies like GitLab and GitHub are navigating and supporting the open source community. Bryan showcases GitLab’s initiatives to support open source communities, touching on programs like the GitLab for Open Source, and the exclusive GitLab Open Source Partners program. Throughout the conversation topics like guidelines for diving into open source projects, the intrinsic link between open source and business strategy, and the role of effective social interaction in the open source realm are explored. The significance of maintaining transparent documentation, policies, and processes in an open source environment is also emphasized. Press download now to hear more!

[00:01:29] Bryan tells us about his role at GitLab, where he operates at the interface between GitLab, the company, and the broader GitLab community, focusing on open source contributions.

[00:03:23] Leslie inquires about specific support mechanisms GitLab offers to open source maintainers and Bryan mentions two significant programs at GitLab: The GitLab for Open Source program and The GitLab Open Source Partners program. He lists some major projects associated with the GitLab Open Source Partners program like Debian, Arch, Fedora, etc.

[00:08:45] Bryan emphasizes the importance of sustainability and how being a part of a community can provide support, best practices, and even commiseration.

[00:10:01] Abby points out the challenges of community interaction on platforms like GitHub and asks Bryan about the impact of his efforts on community building at GitLab.

Bryan acknowledges the challenges and notes that while they’re seeing progress in community building, it’s an ongoing effort.

[00:11:38] We hear how Bryan is handling open source projects that just need a private repository for security releases.

[00:12:38] Leslie mentions the significance of sharing policies and processes publicly, particularly in Europe, given the legislative environment. Bryan explains how GitLab implements a management model called “team ops” for best practices in an all-remote environment.

[00:13:33] Leslie stresses the importance of documentation, and Bryan shares that GitLab is active on Discord, and he tells the story of how the community started the server and later handed it to GitLab.

[00:15:33] Abby praises both GitLab and Red Hat for running open source projects and documentation. Bryan highlights the challenges and decisions behind using Discord.

[00:16:50] Bryan provides context for the open leadership assessment and talks about how open source principles impact organizational culture and design, he mentions he’ll be speaking with Heidi Hess von Ludewig about one of his favorite projects at All Things Open-2023, and we hear about the “open source way,” which is another project he worked on.

[00:20:58] Leslie raises the topic of interplay between work in communities and the responsibilities to employers, and Bryan explores the complexities of working in open source, the challenges, and frictions when balancing between community engagement and organizational objectives.

[00:24:26] Abby asks if GitLab is offering guidelines for diving into open source projects. Bryan responds that GitLab’s handbook provides some basic guides but lacks a full-fledged open source programs office.

[00:25:42] Leslie discusses a trend in technology industry where companies scale back on their open source program office staff, especially during rough economic times, and Bryan talks about the intertwined nature of open source and business strategy in certain organizations, and how the open source strategy is essential from top to bottom.

[00:28:27] Leslie suggests that achieving business outcomes can be smoother with the right tools, including the skills for effective social interactions in the open source realm.


[00:03:45] “We owe it to the open source ecosystem of which we are a part to make sure that ecosystem is healthy and vibrant and has what it needs.”

[00:19:45] “I just think that open source communities are really fascinating Petri dishes of self-organization and self-governance.”

[00:24:02] “Participation in open source projects is all but unavoidable today as an organization.”


  • [00:29:32] Bryan’s spotlight is his favorite open source project, WordGrinder.
  • [00:31:02] Abby’s spotlight is Random Name Picker for Lucky Draw.
  • [00:31:44] Leslie’s spotlight is reading a chapter on ‘Communication Channels’ from the guidebook, The Turing Way.



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