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Open Source Rookies of the Year

The seventh annual Black Duck Open Source Rookies of the Year awards recognize the top new open source projects initiated in 2014. This year's Open Source Rookies honorees span cloud storage, bitcoin marketplaces, DevOps tools, and database management addressing needs in the Docker community, the enterprise, and consumer applications. These top projects reflect the following new important trends in the open source community.

  • Docker Ecosystem: Our 2013 Rookie, Docker, inspired an entire ecosystem of open source projects. Docker had a radical idea to change the way software was developed. The open source community supports this passion whole-heartedly and has been clamoring to contribute to Docker’s containerized application movement. The Docker train gained speed in 2014 with different open source projects contributing and building upon the idea of container development. 2014 Rookie winners Kubernetes and cAdvisor only showcase a small part of the massive Docker ecosystem that grew in 2014. Drone and Fig are two other projects worthy of an honorable mention for their work in the Docker container space.
  • Radical Beginnings: Many open source projects are started because developers wish to solve daily frustrations they encounter in their work. Some of the great open source projects have been solutions to solve fundamental technology pain points. Then there are the radicals. People with ideas so crazy that at first glance the proof of concept (POC) seems unattainable. Behind these projects are passionate leaders with big ideas on how to move technology forward. These passion projects are based on core beliefs that humans should be doing things differently. Cloud storage must be free from corporate handling (Storj). Learning to code must be fun and accessible to the masses (CodeCombat). Global trade and commerce should be free and private (OpenBazaar). Computers should be connected to a permanent and unbreakable file system (IPFS). These ideas fly in the face of traditional technologies and deliver on the innovative promise and spirit of open source community development.
  • Open Source Community Management: The recipe to a successful open source project is more complex than “good idea + open source license”. A strong community can make or break a project, regardless of the validity of the POC. Communities are comprised of people, an asset on which project managers must capitalize if they want their projects to thrive.  Throughout our conversations with Rookie nominees and winners, we heard that managing the egos and talents of contributors was a significant and important undertaking for project leaders. When a person expresses desire to contribute to a project, they bring a specific skill set and passion. Their ideas on how to move the project forward may not align perfectly with where the project manager wishes focus development. Matching the needs and goals of the project to the skills and passions of contributors is a tricky process. Ultimately, project managers need to remember that behind every contributor is a person who selflessly volunteered their time and knowledge because they believe in you and your ideas. That contribution must be appropriately appreciated, strategically considered, and efficiently implemented. 


2014 Recipients

cAdvisor – analyzes resource usage and performance characteristics of running containers.
CockroachDB – is a scalable, geo-replicated, transactional datastore.
CodeCombat – is a multiplayer programming game for learning how to code.
DebOps – is a collection of Ansible playbooks and roles, scalable from one container to an entire data center.
IPFS – is a global, versioned, peer-to-peer file system.
Kubernetes – is an open source container cluster manager used to accelerate development and simplify operations.
Neovim – The Vim text editor has been loved by a generation of users. Neovim is the next generation.
OpenBazaar – is a decentralized marketplace for instantly trading with anyone using Bitcoin.
Storj – is based on blockchain technology and peer-to-peer protocols to provide the most secure, private, and encrypted cloud storage. – is a tool for building, changing, and combining infrastructure safely and efficiently.

Honorable mention

Docker Fig – provides fast, isolated development environments using Docker.
Drone – is a Continuous Integration platform built on Docker, written in Go.

2014 Recipients


Understanding running applications has always required deep understanding of the particular application in question. cAdvisor makes this easy for container-based applications by providing users with detailed performance information about their running containers. It comes from a team of Googlers who've been working with containers for a long time and are super excited about helping users answer the question "how well are my applications running?" cAdvisor can run on most Linux distros and supports many container types, including Docker containers. It has become the defacto monitoring agent for containers, has been integrated into many systems, and is the most downloaded image in the Docker Hub. The team hopes to grow cAdvisor to understand application performance more deeply and to integrate this information into cluster-wide systems.


Former ‘Googlers’ are bringing a big company data solution to the open source community. To maintain the terabytes of data transacted over its global online properties, Google developed Spanner. This powerful tool provides Google with scalability, survivability and transactionality - qualities that the team behind CockroachDB intend to bring to the open source community. One of its founders Spencer Kimball outlined three key features of the database that mirror the features of the mighty cockroach bug: 1) Like a cockroach, it can survive without its head; CockroachDB can tolerate system failures of any node and still function; 2) Just as a cockroach can live for more than a month without food, CockroachDB does not have many external dependencies in deployment; and 3) If you’ve lived in a New York City apartment, you may think that cockroaches work together to attack; similarly, CockroachDB nodes work together to seamlessly provide scalability and transactionality. This open source project has identified a devoted community of talented and experienced contributors. Its founders actively developed the community by using media, GitHub, networking, conferences, and meet-ups. Matching the unique skills and passions of contributors with the needs of the project has been an unforeseen challenge, the founders have said; yet, it is one that they take on with gusto because the founders and contributors all share a passion for solving ambitious and technically difficult problems.    


The traditional pen and paper way of learning doesn’t always resonate for the next extremely tech-savvy generation. The founders of CodeCombat fully understand this and brought the philosophy one step further for code education. With a desire to bring coding to the masses by turning a game into a learning platform, CodeCombat founders developed this multiplayer programming game for learning how to code. At its inception, the project was an idea for a startup but the founders decided their path to success would be paved with open source projects. The idea blossomed within the community and the project gained contributors at a steady rate. Just two months after its open source launch, the game was accepted into Google’s Summer of Code. The game reaches a broad audience and is available in 45 languages. CodeCombat hopes to become the standard for persons who want to learn to code in a fun setting.


DebOps began at a small university which runs its own local data center. The main problem to solve was lack of configuration management, everything was configured by hand and crashes could lead to many days of downtime. After a recent crash that took two days to fix by rebuilding the system from scratch, DebOps founder Maciej Delmanowski realized that a configuration management system was needed to prevent history from repeating itself. Maciej open sourced DebOps to ensure that his work outlived his current work environment and that it could grow in strength and depth from outside contributors. He wanted to do everything right from the start, so he took time to learn the different technical tools used in creating his configuration management tool. Starting with a Debian base, DebOps is a collection of Ansible playbooks that configure an entire data infrastructure. The project has already been implemented in many different working environments and the founders plan to continue supporting and improving it as time goes on.


The open source community is known for developing simple solutions for complex issues that results in countless innovations for organizations and individuals alike. These powerful projects represent only one portion of the open source community. A more radical group of projects exists whose proof of concept seems daring, outrageous, and unattainable. InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is one of the radical solutions. IPFS is a peer-to-peer distributed file system that seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files. This possible HTTP replacement maintains a community through multiple mediums, including the Git community and an IRC channel that has more than 100 current contributors. The community behind IPFS is committed to the philosophy that a few individuals can make a tremendous difference. This “crazy” idea will be available for alpha testing in 2015.


Docker has become the backbone of a strong and innovative community of technologies and tools by bringing containerized software development to the open source community. Google has been using containers for years to develop its current scale of technologies. At the summer 2014 DockerCon, the Internet giant open sourced a container management tool, Kubernetes, that was developed specifically to meet the needs of the exponentially growing Docker ecosystem. Through collaborations with other organizations and projects, like Red Hat and CoreOS, the Kubernetes project managers have grown their project to be the number one downloaded tool on the Docker Hub. The Kubernetes team is excited to watch its project grow and to see people use the software to do things they couldn’t do otherwise. They hope to build the project with the community so software developers can spend less time managing the guts and more time building the apps they want.



Since its inception in 1991, Vim has been a beloved text editor that has been adopted by multiple generations of software developers. While the software development ecosystem has experienced exponential growth and innovation over the past 23 years, Neovim founder Thiago de Arruda knew that Vim was lacking in modern-day features and development speed. While focusing on preserving the important features of Vim, the community behind Neovim seeks to improve and evolve the technology of their favorite text editor. Thiago discovered like-minded individuals within the Vim community who supported his endeavor to rebirth Vim in the 21st century. Crowdfunding initially allowed Thiago to focus six uninterrupted months on launching this endeavor. He largely credits the Neovim community for supporting the project and for inspiring him to continue contributing.


The proof of concept (POC) for OpenBazaar was born at a bitcoin hackathon, where its founders combined BitTorent, bitcoin, and traditional financial server methodologies to create a censorship resistant trading platform for bitcoin. Once the POC had won over the Toronto Bitcoin Hackathon, the OpenBazaar team sought new community members. It focused on using communities like Reddit and pushing code, and before long the original developers were able to expand the OpenBazaar community immensely. The tablestakes of OpenBazaar, transparency and a common goal to revolutionize trade and commerce, have helped founders and contributors alike work toward turning that POC into a real-world uncontrolled and decentralized marketplace.



Supporters of global cloud-based data storage find value in its nearly unlimited storage and possible cost-efficiencies. Conversely, others argue that the cloud is unknown and vulnerable to attacks. Storj aims to address all these concerns. It is a peer-to-peer cloud storage network implementing end-to-end encryption allowing users to transfer and share data without reliance on a third party. Storj is a private cloud storage marketplace where space is purchased and traded via Storjcoin X (SJCX). A lack of corporate ties provides users with security; files uploaded to Storj are shredded, encrypted, and stored across the community. File owners are the sole persons who possess keys to the encrypted information. The proof of concept for this decentralized cloud storage marketplace was first presented at the Texas Bitcoin Conference Hackathon in 2014. After winning first place in the hackathon, the project founders and leaders used open forums, Reddit, Bitcoin forums, and social media to grow their impressive community, which is now an essential part of the decision-making process for Storj founders. The project leaders praise the community as essential to their success. Storj volunteers have an incessant commitment to do the right thing, and to do it better. "Apart from a great team Storj has an amazing community, we dedicate our Black Duck Open Source Rookies of the Year award to each one of our supporters." said Shawn Wilkinson, Founder. 

Learn more about Storj in 60 seconds:

The founders of Terraform wanted to build a vendor-agnostic tool to make DevOps easier. Working at a DevOps company, they identified a pain point in codifying the knowledge required to build up a complete datacenter, from plugged in servers to a fully networked and functional datacenter. Sponsorship from the well-respected open source company HashiCorp helped to launch this project in a friendly environment. Quality software with dedicated and experienced contributors attracts contributors and community members to Terraform. The community inspires the project leaders to see Terraform used for making almost all major infrastructure changes across the Internet. A strong community, with strong community managers, is vital to achieving this goal. Project Founder Michael Hashimoto knows the key to building this community is simple: “Be nice, remember that behind every comment, issue, PR, complaint, etc. is a real human being. And most human beings aren't actively malicious, so be nice, even if they're frustrated.”

Honorable mention

Docker Fig

Fig moves the configuration required to orchestrate Docker into a simple clear fig.yml file. It handles all the work of building and running containers, forwarding their ports, and sharing volumes and linking them. Orchard formed Fig last year to build products for Docker, creating a new system of tools to make Docker work. It was developed as a way of setting up development environments using Docker – started by Ben Firshman and his Orchard co-founder, Aanand Prasad. Fig allows users to define the exact environment their app would run in using Docker, while also running databases and caches inside Docker. Fig solved a major pain point for developers. Before Fig and Docker, setting up development environments on a laptop was time consuming, complicated, and tedious, and required the installation of different systems and software just to make an application work. Being able to run one command is compelling to a broad audience. Docker fully supports this open source project, and recently purchased Orchard in order to expand the reach of Fig. This move is a testament to the great idea and the tremendous work done by the founders and the community on Fig.



The Drone project was created the project out of frustration with existing available technologies and processes for setting up development environments. Drone provides a simple approach to automated testing and continuous delivery. Simply pick a Docker image tailored to your needs, connect GitHub, and commit. That's it. Drone uses Docker containers to provision isolated testing environments, giving every project complete control over its stack without the burden of traditional server administration. The community behind Drone is 100 contributors strong and they hope to bring this project to the enterprise and to mobile app development.  


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