Curl Boosted By Donation
Written by Sue Gee   
Thursday, 09 January 2020

Curl, an open source project that is widely used to transfer data, has been given a donation of $10K by indeed.com, the self-proclaimed #1 job site. The donation was made through Open Collective and is the largest single donation the project has ever received.

curl sqAccording to its website:

curl is used in command lines or scripts to transfer data. It is also used in cars, television sets, routers, printers, audio equipment, mobile phones, tablets, settop boxes, media players and is the internet transfer backbone for thousands of software applications affecting billions of humans daily.

Curl is widely used, but it is largely overlooked. Created by Daniel Stenberg, by adapting the open source command line tool httpget, the initial version was released in 1997. As the project grew bigger, to encompass both a command line tool and library for transferring data with URL syntax, the name changed to curl, standing for "Client URL".

curl sample

Curl joined GitHub in 1999 and has now been being developed for more than two decades as an open source project. While "thousands of" contributors are acknowledged on its website, the contributor graph on its GitHub repo reveals that the overwhelming majority of the commits are made by Daniel Stenberg, aka bagder, himself.

In 2017 Stenberg gained recognition for his work when he was awarded the Polhems Prize for:

"a high-level technological innovation or an ingenious solution to a technical problem.” 

His response, which we reported in Creator of cURL Awarded Prestigious Swedish Prize was one of surprise:

... I’m not used to getting noticed or getting awards. I’m used to sitting by myself working on bugs, merging patches and responding to user emails. 

Announcing the recent donation on his personal blog, Daniel Stenberg describes to 10K USD from indeed.com as:

the largest ever single-shot monetary donation to the curl project.

The donation was made through Open Collective which since 2016 has been assisting not-for-profits collectives to raise funding and manage expenses (for more information see our 2018 report BackYourStack To Provide Open Source With Financial Security.)

Open Collective brings transparency to giving and receiving funds for Open Source and enable us to see that this is the fourth donation of 10K USD made by indeed.com - the others being to webpack, pytest and ESLint.

Stenberg's blog post acknowledges curl's other sponsors. They fall into two categories - financial backers and those who provide  time and effort - notable here is wolfSSL which employs Daniel and allows him to spend paid work hours on curl.

He then mentions:

curl remains a small project with no major financial backing, with no umbrella organization (*) and no major company sponsorships.

The footnote explains that a request to join the Software Freedom Conservancy was declined due to workload and that the Linux Foundation, which would seem a very suitable match, didn't even respond. As a result of posting to Hacker News, Stenberg has now been contacted by the Linux Foundation about joining them which might lead to a sounder future for the project.

So the good news is that curl has not only gained valuable funding but may also in future benefit from membership of the Linux Foundation. 

curl sq

The lesson for other open source projects, and other not-for-profit collectives is that Open Collective is available to you to raise funds. It isn't the only method, of course. The GitHub Sponsors scheme is an alternative and applying to the Mozilla Foundation is another. But however small your open source project, attracting funding to ensure financial security is an important activity.

More Information

curl Receives 10K USD Donation

curl website

Open Collective 

 

Related Articles

Creator of cURL Awarded Prestigious Swedish Prize

The Open Source Guides To Managing Open Source Software Projects 

GitHub Sponsors - Money For Open Source

Mozilla Open Source Support Program

BackYourStack To Provide Open Source With Financial Security 

 

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 11 January 2020 )