Episode 78

Stormy Peters: Sustaining FLOSS at Microsoft's Open Source Programs Office


May 21st, 2021

34 mins 19 secs

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About this Episode


Stormy Peters


Eric Berry | Justin Dorfman | Richard Littauer

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! Our amazing guest today is Stormy Peters, Director of the Open Source Programs Office at Microsoft and long-time advocate of free and open source software. Stormy tells us how she started her journey into open source and how she got involved with the OSPO at Microsoft. We find out about the impact of Duane O’Brien’s FOSS Fund, what Stormy is doing at Microsoft to help other nonfinancial ways of supporting communities and building great open source ecosystems of communities, and about how they support Outreachy. Also, Stormy fills us in on where she thinks open source is going in the future, her team’s goals, and their focus on cultural change. Download this episode now to find out much more!

[00:01:16] We find out how Stormy got into open source.

[00:02:40] Stormy tells us how she got involved with the Open Source Program Office at Microsoft, if she ever found herself defending open source more so than today, and if she ever thought Microsoft would be in a position they are now of how much they’ve given back to open source.

[00:04:14] Richard is curious how Stormy feels about sustain, how the process has been like for her, how has it been to see the change from just being a licensing issue to being a culture, and if she thinks most people are paid for open source.

[00:08:45] Eric wonders what the overall mentality was for Stormy when she got to Microsoft regarding supporting open source and if it’s changed since she’s been there.

[00:12:17] Eric asks Stormy if in five years our whole development environment is on Microsoft platform if we’re going to get locked in and is that going to cause the same type of negative frustration as he is with Apple right now.

[00:13:40] Richard wonders if tools are owned by Microsoft how will that affect his development and how will affect the open source ecosystem if very large corporations become the main stakeholders in open source and direct the projects in their own ways, and Stormy replies and also explains how the people get paid.

[00:16:10] Justin wonders how much impact Duane O’Brien’s program FOSS Fund has made in the way they operate and the rest of the bigger OSPO’s out there. We also learn what she’s doing at Microsoft to help other nonfinancial ways of supporting communities and building great open source ecosystems of communities.

[00:18:53] Stormy fills us in on who makes up their team of employees at OSPO Microsoft and where you can go to see what they are doing.

[00:20:12] Richard is curious where Stormy sees the role for OSPO’s for universities, governments, cities, and anything that’s not a large corporation. She also tells us about how they support Outreachy.

[00:23:08] We learn from Stormy where she thinks open source is going in the future and why she thinks a Copyleft is dropped out of the parlance.

[00:25:49] Stormy tells us how she sees Ethical Source progressing and if she sees it being a major player with people or as being a movement that will cause the same tensions that GPL used to cause.

[00:27:24] Richard wonders if Microsoft has a mapping of what resources they have used of what code is in their system, what open source packages they depend on, and how they are actively working towards giving back to them as a whole down the stack.

[00:29:12] Eric asks Stormy what is on the forefront of her team’s mind right now, and she fills us in on her team’s goals.

[00:29:56] Find out where you can follow Stormy on the internet.


[00:01:53] “And this was just about the time that Linux was getting popular and they had not one, but two desktops that were popular, GNOME and KDE, and I thought surely we can collaborate on this like they do.”

[00:03:42] “I’d like to joke now that I think Microsoft’s first contribution to open source was being the common enemy.”

[00:04:54] “I think it’s still evolving, and I think it always will evolve and so I think it’s important that all of us continue to think about it and figure out what the new models look like.”

[00:05:32] “I think a much larger majority than before get paid to work on open source.”

[00:06:33] “So, I know when I was at Mozilla we consciously thought about this with Firefox OS, having people full-time on it and even more than full-time, as they worked extra hours to try to get out the door, could you still welcome people that only had two or three hours a week to work on it.”

[00:08:56] “So to go back to the question about my career that it looked like it changed with this last move, I don’t think it did. To me, this was the next step in the path.”

[00:09:27] “Microsoft, I think, is ideally positioned to make the next big change in open source software.”

[00:12:33] “So it’s my job, extended team’s job, to make sure that Microsoft does open source well, and part of us being successful in open source is making sure we have active communities around our projects that are broader than us so that the projects are broader than us that we’re not creating that lock-in.”

[00:14:51] “Microsoft uses a program called FOSS Fund that Duane O’Brien at INDEED started, where we let employees pick a project every month to give them $10,000, and the idea’s that’s not going to be enough money to support them forever but we just want to recognize some of the projects that we’re using that aren’t getting a lot of funding in other ways.”

[00:15:54] “Those companies started doing contract work for an open source software project and now they work on open source software projects and other projects in general.”

[00:16:34] “I think Duane’s a good thinker, like when COVID started, he started an effort to raise money for the events that were impacted, so I hope that’s empowering to a lot of people that one person can have a good idea that is a need and get people involved.”

[00:17:44] “So, we’re unofficially giving Azure Credits to a number of open source software projects. I’m trying to launch an official program by which people can apply to get Azure Credits whether it’s just do their builds or whether it’s to make sure that stuff runs on Azure.”

[00:18:05] “We have a lot of Microsoft employees who work on projects on GitHub. I think it’s definitely over 30,000 Microsoft employees have linked their Microsoft identity to their GitHub identity.”

[00:23:13] “I think if you’d asked me that like twenty years ago, I would not have realized that Copyleft would drop out of importance as much as it has.”

[00:23:36] “I don’t know if I would make an accurate prediction, but I hope it’s to continue to make, not only to make more software available to more people, but to make it more possible for people that aren’t in tech careers to write code and make computers do what they need them to do.”

[00:24:20] “I think it’s cause the fear has dropped out. In the beginning it was fear that I was going to have to open source something I didn’t want to and fear that somebody was going to take my stuff and take advantage of my stuff.”

[00:29:17] “Our goal is to make sure that Microsoft business units can use open source software in their strategy, that they can consume open source, that they can open source things, and that they have all the tools and knowledge they need to do that.”


  • [00:30:41] Eric’s spotlight is Kombucha (KeVita).
  • [00:31:29] Justin’s spotlight is Jekyll Admin.
  • [00:32:04] Richard’s spotlight is Carl Boettiger.
  • [00:33:04] Stormy’s spotlight is Educational Software Projects like Khan Academy and Internet-in-a-Box.



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