Episode 85

Geoffrey Huntley and Sustaining OSS with Gitpod


July 16th, 2021

45 mins 44 secs

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Special Guest

About this Episode


Geoffrey Huntley


Eric Berry | Richard Littauer

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source for the long haul. We are super excited to be going “down under” with our guest today, Geoff Huntley, who works at Gitpod as part of a team that focuses on community and he works with the engineering team. He is also a long-time open source developer advocate, and general coder dude from Australia. We learn from Geoff how he got started in coding, how he loves to teach people coming into the field, and the importance of turning up, sticking around, and helping out in this industry. He tells us all about Gitpod, what he does there, why more people are adopting it, what beer money does for maintainers, and how he’s using Gitpod to try to solve the problem of maintainers sustainability. Also, Geoff shares some awesome advice to help the sustainers out there, and his advice on how to use money, which you really need to hear! Download this episode now to find out much more from Geoff #vanlife!

[00:01:45] Geoff tells us about the van he lives in and the project he maintains called ReactiveUI.

[00:02:50] We learn how Geoff got started with coding and how he ended up willing to take over an open source project that takes a lot of maintenance.

[00:06:00] Richard asks Geoff to talk about the amount of maintainers out there and any opinions he has about the engineering code versus the maintainer parable he just mentioned.

[00:08:49] We learn more about Gitpod from Geoff.

[00:10:49] Eric asks why people are adopting Gitpod, what makes that different between that and Codespaces, and Geoff tells us what the response has been so far.

[00:14:40] Geoff talks about how he’s using Gitpod to try to solve this problem of maintainers sustainability, and how it goes back to Nadia Eghbal with her Roads and Bridges and the pivotal work she did with the Ford Foundation.

[00:17:43] Eric wonders what Geoff thinks that beer money does for the maintainers, and when he was talking to the guys, what kind of response was he getting.

[00:21:18] Geoff tells us how many people were involved in the distribution and if he was able to bring in more community members to help decide where those funds were allocated.

[00:23:13] We find out the background of the team at Gitpod, and what Geoff does there.

[00:25:12] Richard wonders how Geoff is structuring partnerships and how is he making it easier for developers to know about the whole suite of tools that are at their disposal to try and get not just beer money, but sticker money, backer money, and eventually, hopefully things like UBI coming out of code.

[00:26:46] Geoff shares his knowledge to the sustainers out there and that can help others.

[00:33:00] Eric and Richard share their thoughts on what the next five years is going to be.

[00:39:24] Geoff leaves us with a final thought on, “How to use money?” We also find out where you can find him online.


[00:03:27] “Well, it was for personal development and learning. I found at the company I didn’t really have a mentor as such, and I found in open source there is an unlimited supply of learning if you just turn up and say, “How can I help?”

[00:04:12] “No other industry has that opportunity if you just do the one simple thing of just turning up, sticking around, and helping out.”

[00:04:36] “So these are common problems in open source. We have a lot of focus on the code, but there’s so many different ways people can contribute to open source even if you still don’t understand the code base.”

[00:07:22] “So, one thing to always remember is problems can be fixed, we’ll pull requests. Open source software is as is.”

[00:16:03] “Now, one of the things we’ve found in that is it’s still too hard to give projects money.”

[00:18:56] “People are very excited just to even know that you’re using their software and how it’s getting value.”

[00:39:31] “I suppose I’d leave to everyone to think about when you do have money and beer money is coming in, consider maybe not paying your developers.”

[00:40:12] “So, use your funds to bring yourself joy. Think about all the things you do as an open source maintainer and the things that don’t bring you joy, that’s what the funds should be used to do.”


  • [00:42:22] Eric’s spotlights are github1s and GitHub Web IDE.
  • [00:43:31] Richard’s spotlight is the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs.
  • [00:44:30] Geoff’s spotlight is the open source project pre-commit.



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