Arvados Mission and Principles


Arvados is dedicated to enabling great medical care through the large-scale analysis of biomedical data.

Free software

We believe our success depends on Arvados being free software.

"Free software" means software that respects users' freedom and community, as defined in the Free Software Definition by the Free Software Foundation.

Software freedom is defined by the four freedoms laid out in the Free Software Definition:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
  • The freedom to study how the program works and adapt it to your needs.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others.
  • The freedom to improve the program and release your improvements to the public, so that everyone benefits.

These freedoms imply that the software is open source.

Our commitment to free software is manifest in how the software is licensed and developed.

Built by a Community

Free software unlocks the potential of community to collaborate and develop in a decentralized way where the collective effort produces something greater than any individual or single company could achieve on their own. This is especially important in healthcare where the innovation has the potential to directly affect the health and well being of billions of people.

The Arvados design process is open and transparent. The project uses best-practices from agile development methodologies. A public backlog represents the work that is planned. There is a mailing list and IRC channel for conversations among developers and contributors, and we hold regular design sessions through Google Hangout. Most decisions are made through a lazy consensus process and all processes are documented.

We maintain an fully public source code repository through the entire development process. Contribution is merit-based and the code review, issues, backlog, and release schedules are all open and transparent.

The Arvados community is organized around six core principles:

  • Open Source - We are committed to developing free and open source software.
  • Elegance - We aim to create software that is well designed, flexible, modular, extensible and easily maintainable. We strive for user experiences that are thoughtful, simple and easy-to-use.
  • Transparency - All discussions and decisions happen in open forums. The community controls the design process. All decisions, processes, and discussions are documented and preserved in the project website.
  • Quality - We strive to create highly-quality code that is reliable, secure, scalable, tested, documented and maintainable. We understand that Arvados powers mission-critical systems.
  • Merit - Technical governance is a meritocracy. Working code wins arguments.
  • Respect - We seek to build a respectful, collaborative community that is enjoyable to participate in and fosters healthy discussion and debate.

Supported Commercially

The Arvados project was started with the assumption that for-profit companies and service providers will come to support Arvados commercially while still maintaining a deep commitment to open source and the Arvados community. We believe this is part of what is necessary to make the project successful in the real-world. When IT organizations deploy major Arvados implementations, many of them will look to commercial vendors for design, implementation, and support services. We think this is a great thing, and it's consistent with what has happened for many of the most successful open source projects. We also hope to see commercial vendors building applications and services on-top of an integrated with Arvados.

By combining an AGPL license for the core code, which helps to protect the whole community and an Apache 2 license for the SDKs, we believe we have a configuration where we can maintain a strong and vibrant open source project that doesn't become fragmented, at the same time that we enable proprietary and commercial innovation on top of and adjacent to the Arvados platform.

To read a more detailed summary of the Arvados license choices and their implications, read the Arvados Licenses FAQ.

Updated by Jonathan Sheffi almost 9 years ago · 27 revisions