The Apache Software Foundation
The Apache Software Foundation Incubator

Mentor Guide


After the Podling has been accepted by the Incubator PMC, one of the mentors sets up the Podling; i.e. adds the podling metadata, creates the initial Podling status page, and either creates or requests that other resources (mail lists, subversion, bug tracker, etc.) be created.

Add to Incubation Summary file

Add the podling to the podling summary file in the "incubator" SVN at content/podlings.xml (e.g. copy the entry from another podling that also has status="current") and see instructions.

Please do this step ASAP after Acceptance. Other setup procedures utilize this metadata.

Add a 'reporting' tag (after 'description') with the attribute 'monthly="true"' and the appropriate "group" attribute, based on the month in which the podling entered incubation (1 for January, April, July, October, 2 for February, May, August, November or 3 for March, June, September, December). The text content of the 'reporting' tag must contain the initial list of reporting months, starting with the month after the podling entered incubation. For example: <reporting group="2" monthly="true">June, July, August</reporting> Once the first three reports are complete, the monthly attribute should be removed and the list of months removed as well.

The first report might be very short. However it is better that the Incubator PMC can help to guide through the early setup stages. For more details see the PPMC Guide.

Initialize Podling Status Page

A mentor needs to create the web page that will track the project's status. A mentor will also need to update it until others in the the project's PPMC can update it.

The status page is the incubator's record of the progress made. It MUST be kept update to date during incubation. Some of the information is available from the proposal. As the startup process continues and resources are created the status SHOULD be updated.

The template contains lists of actions which may be needed to start up a podling. All those which do not apply should be deleted.

The status page is a useful aid to workflow. Volunteers can use it to sign up to the various tasks and monitor their progress. Once the mailing lists are set up and prospective committers subscribe then these may be used for discussion.

Request Required Resources

The proposal should include a list of required resources. All of these will require active set up. Some are created by infrastructure after an appropriate request, others can be set up by any IPMC members (typically mentors).

Mailing lists should be created first. Other resources typically post information to these lists.

Request Mailing Lists

Apache mailing lists require volunteer moderators. New moderators can be changed later but at least one volunteer is required before the mailing lists can be set up. Moderation is a reasonably easy task though moderators may want to set up spam filtering. Having at least three moderators is recommended to spread the load.

The proposal should contain the rest of the information that needs to be collected before the mailing lists can be requested. Incubator is the responsible top level project. So the domain MUST be For example:

  • dev@${podling}
  • commits@${podling}
  • private@${podling}

For initial community building it is usually appropriate to only have a "dev" list, to keep the discussions focussed. Later add a "user" list if needed.

Commits under${podling} will be emailed to commits@${podling} Any deviation will require special configuration in the asf-mailer.conf file by the IPMC.

Mailing lists creation is a task for the infrastructure team. The infrastructure team offers a tool that simplifies the creation of mailing lists. You can access the Incubator Mailing List Request Form to request a list. A notification will be sent to private@incubator when the lists have been created.

Remember to update the project status file with mailing list details. Prospective committers and mentors will need to subscribe. Email them once the status file has been updated. Inform any existing mailing lists or forums previously used by the project.

Once the commits list is created, the project MUST review the /incubator/${podling} tree, since any commits made prior to the list's creation will have generated no email trail.

Mail Archives

Archives at for the public mailing lists will be setup as part of the mailing list creation process. No action is required by Mentors. The archives will be visible as soon as posts have been made (and moderated) to these lists.

You can also leverage for mailing list archives. There is a login link in the top right corner, which allows you to respond to threads from within the web application.

Many projects are independently archived externally (for example, at The Mail Archive and MARC) Independent archives help to increase project visibility as well as preserving a independent historic record. These subscriptions are not automatically created. If desired, subscribe manually.

Subscriptions to news-to-mailing-list bridges (for example, Nabble) must also be created manually. Subscribing helps accessibility and visibility but Nabble news users may not be aware that they are posting to a mailing list.

Mailing List Administration

Apache uses ezmlm. See the manual and committer mail FAQ for more details.

Mailing List Transition

Independent mailing lists and groups are perfectly acceptable but development should happen on the official mailing lists at Apache. If a project has existing mailing lists, forums or groups the community needs to consider their future and plan for the transition to the official Apache mailing lists.

It may be useful to move development first to the official lists followed gradually by the user resources.

Note that subscribers of external mailing lists will not be automatically subscribed to the new Incubator project mailing lists. Instead, a note should be posted to the old external mailing list asking them to subscribe to the new list. If possible, add a footer to the old mailing list with some instructions.

Issue Tracking

If any Mentor has project-creation karma (in the issue tracking system to be used) then they should execute. If no Mentor has the required karma then file an INFRA issue using the 'new jira project' type (not bug or request)

Remember to post an email announcing that the issue tracker is available.

Set Up Podling Source Repository

The most important responsibility for mentors is to set up the podling source repository. Podlings can choose between svn and git for source control.

Set up GIT Repository

Requests for new git repos are done via This service will initialize a new repository, setup github mirrors and enable integrations for that repository.

The Foundation's policy is to grant access to git repositories broadly to the incubator group, not narrowly podling-by-podling. So, once the repository exists, incubator group members gain access without further work. Once the podling graduates, a dedicated ldap group will be created to manage access and only those members will be given access.

Set Up SVN Repository

If the podling chooses svn, you must create the repository and give read/write access to the repository to all the committers for the podling. This involves requesting new committer accounts and granting access to mentors and existing Apache committers.

Setting up a podling subversion repository has two steps: Creating the SVN space and configuring the authorization (in both svn and git).

Create the workspace in svn. This requires commit access to the incubator svn repository. Podlings are given their own subdirectory of the incubator svn repository. To create the podling subdirectory, the mentor executes the svn command to create a remote directory: svn mkdir{podling}

Create the workspace authorization in asf-authorization-template. This requires commit access to infrastructure-puppet to modify the file;a=blob;f=modules/subversion_server/files/authorization/asf-authorization-template. Please follow the procedures in the infrastructure puppet workflow document.

Edit the file to add the podling repository in alphabetical order, e.g.


In the section listing all the projects (again in alphabetical order) add the podling directory and permissions, to enable the podling for its eventual website:

[/incubator/{podling}] @{podling} = rw ...

This is a convenient time to add authorization for committers who have accounts.

Authorization karma is restricted. If no Mentor has this karma then post an email to IPMC private list requesting that this is actioned.

Authorize Committers

The process to add committers to the podling depends on whether the new committer is already an Apache committer and whether the new committer is in the list of original committers:

  • The committer is in the list of original committers in the podling proposal to the incubator and is not already an Apache committer:
    • Ask developers to send their ICLA to according to standard procedure. Note that ICLA forms must be signed, either by hand or by digital signature.
    • Developers should choose an Apache id that is not already listed here.
    • Developers should enter their preferred Apache id on the ICLA and enter the podling name in the "notify" field of the ICLA.
  • The committer is in the list of original committers in the podling proposal to the incubator and is already an Apache committer, only incubator authorization is required.
  • The committer was voted by the PPMC and approved by the incubator PMC:
  • Perform one of the above procedures depending on whether the committer is already an Apache committer on another project.

[DRAFT] Podling Bootstrap

NOTE This section is a DRAFT under development.

Following podling creation, it needs to be bootstrapped. Here are some of the tasks:

  1. Ensure Mentors are on the IPMC[Mentors]
  2. Add podling to reporting schedule [IPMC member]
  3. Initialize project status page [IPMC member]
  4. Start orientation [Prospective committers]
  5. Start CLA and CCLA submission [Prospective committers]
  6. Start IP Clearance [IPMC member]
  7. Request Required Resources
    1. Mailing Lists [Infrastructure Team]
    2. Subversion [IPMC]
    3. Issue Tracking [Infrastructure Team]
  8. Create website [Prospective committers]
    1. Consider and plan web site transition

Mentors MUST be on the IPMC

Mentors MUST be on the IPMC. Any prospective Mentors who are not yet on the IPMC should ask to be added (by election). Email the application to

This process may take a few days.

CLA and CCLA Submission

Prospective committers need to submit a Contributor License Agreement (CLA). This process can take a while so it is recommended that committers start to submit these as soon as the podling is accepted.

IP Clearance


Existing codebases need to be imported through the standard IP clearance process. This means that a Software Grant Agreement (SGA) or Contributor License Agreement (CLA) need to be submitted for all copyright owners. This process may take a while so it is best to start as soon as the podling is accepted.

The acceptance of the initial codebases is approved by the IPMC as part of the acceptance motion. So, no vote is required by the PPMC. Otherwise, follow the standard IP clearance process for podlings.

Establishing Provenance

Paperwork needs to be submitted to Apache that grants a legal license on the code to the Apache Software Foundation. As a rule of thumb, if all the material contributors to the code are joining the podling as initial contributors, then CLAs (individual or corporate) are all you need. The individuals must submit the 'individual' CLA (ICLA). If there are employers involved who might claim rights in the code, then corporate CLAs (CCLAs) are needed for those employers.

If, on the other hand, there are material contributors who are not joining the podling as initial contributors, or if there are additional corporate entities who can claim rights in the code, then SGAs are required from those individuals or corporations.

The foregoing is only a rule of thumb. Generally, the mentors of a new project will need to consult with or the Apache legal team about the particular circumstances.

It may take some time to track down all contributors. It is not necessary to have paperwork on file for all contributions before the code is imported. It may be necessary to reverse some patches and rewrite areas of code if contributors cannot be found or at not happy about given Apache written permission to use their code.

No releases are possible until the provenance of all the code to be release has been clearly established and the relevant paperwork filed with Apache. It is therefore important to keep the status updated.

Receipts of ICLAs, CCLAs, and SGAs are recorded by the secretary in the private foundation repository. Reading is restricted to members and officers of the foundation. If there is no officer or member available then ask on the general list.

Initial Code Dump

For corporate contributions, the SGA or CCLA MUST be completed, submitted and received before the code is imported.

For contributions composed of patches from individual contributors, it is safe to import the code once the major contributors (by volume) have completed ICLAs or SGAs.

In either case, the code to be imported should be attached to a JIRA and then imported. It is recommended that the previous version control system is tagged so that the imported version is precisely known.

A public record MUST be made of the code imported. If the import is not attached to JIRA then it MUST be committed to version control.

Importing History

The incoming code can either be committed as a snapshot or as a complete version control export including history (provided that the import is available in a format readable by subversion). Importing with history allows existing open source projects who want to maintain older versions at Apache to easily perform source diffs and so on. Import just the latest code allows a clean break to be made with the past. The choice is left to the community of the incoming project.

The infrastructure team will perform the import including mapping IDs but it is an operation that requires skill, time and care. In this case, please ask the infrastructure team politely.

Audit Cryptography

Before the code base is committed into an Apache repository, the contribution MUST be checked and any restricted cryptography reported appropriately. Read and follow this guide.

Initial Clean Up

Once a JIRA has been created, the source should be cleaned up.

  • Ensure source files use the standard Apache boilerplates. This may mean replacing existing license headers. The tools in and may be useful.
  • Ensure that NOTICE and LICENSE documents are present and correct
  • Add any required notices. Consider moving copyright attributions from source documents to the NOTICE. Read Apache policy on headers .
  • Audit the source for any potential licensing issues. Any which are found should either resolved immediately (when required) or noted in the status document for later.

It is recommended that the initial clean up be is started before the code is committed. It MUST be completed before any releases are cut.

Clean Up Best Practice

It is recommended that version control is used to create a public record of the process. This will assist anyone auditing the code provenance (now or in the future) to easily perform due diligence without contacting the people who performed the clean up. The clean up process should therefore clearly document (using version control) the evolution of the IP licensing.

Particular care needs to be taken with commit messages during clean up. The intended audience needs to include lawyers and code auditors. Members of the public need to be able to follow and understand the process from these messages alone.

It is therefore recommended that the initial source is (after being expanded from the archive) checked in as is into a special directory ( ${project}/trunk/import is suggested). The original packaging, copyright statements and license notices should be preserved. A standard Apache LICENSE and appropriate NOTICE should be added at the top for the copyright for the collective work (see policy ). Take particular care with this commit message. As with any patch that contains code which is not the original work of the committer, the JIRA url (for the artifact imported) needs to be included together with notes about the original copyright owner and any associated paperwork. The fact that this is a exact import including original headers should be noted to stop any queries about these foreign headers.

The cleanup should then proceed in a number of commits. If the source provenance is complex, break the process up into a number of logical steps committing each in turn with a good message.

In particular, take care when relocating copyright statements and license notices into the NOTICE in the root directory: consider moving each copyright owner individually so that it is easier to audit. (See policy .)

Once a section of code has been cleaned up (and repackaged, if necessary) normal development can begin.

On Repackaging

It is recommended - but not mandated - that source is repackaged under the Apache namespace. There is no need to use the incubator namespace. For example, Java source might be repackaged to or a DTD to

Existing open source projects moving to Apache may well need to consider carefully how they will approach this transition.

Update Documents

Check the documentation for references to the old home of the project and update them with references to Apache.

Read Branding Guide. Ensure that appropriate disclaimers are added to the appropriate documentation. Consider adding a DISCLAIMER text document.

Update Build

If the project uses Apache Maven, the pom will need to be updated to reflect that the project is now at Apache. In particular:

  • Update mailingLists
  • Update organization
  • Update url
  • Update issueManagement
  • Check licenses
  • Update scm
  • Update groupId
  • Update manifestEntries. It is recommended that the standard Apache settings are used
  • Update developers to use apache IDs (when known)
  • Update distributionManagement
  • Consider specifying a relocation

If the project uses Apache Ant, the build script will probably need to be updated. In particular:

  • Ensure any MANIFESTs generated refer to Apache. It is recommended that the standard Apache settings are used.
  • Check that LICENSE, NOTICE and - if appropriate - DISCLAIMER documents are copied into binary artifacts

Orientating New Committers: Understanding Apache

When a committer is elected by a typical top level project, the nominator and other PMC members educate the new committer about Apache. In the Incubator, this inductive must be performed by the Mentors. This process is one of the most important for the long term health of a project.

Apache works on the principle that discussions should happen on the most open forum available. Unless the matter involves a sensitive matter (such as security or personal issues), it should be raised on an open mailing list (typically the podling dev list or the incubator general list). Use of the incubator private list should be reserved for official notifications and sensitive topics.

Mentors need to take care. During the initial bootstrapping a habit may develop of emailing private list. It is important to break this habit as soon as the mailing lists are available.

Netiquette about the correct use of cc's may also be difficult to effectively impart. During the bootstrap process there are a number of occasions where cc's are required. The typical usage is to copy in a private listing to indicate that the action has the lazy permission of the committee. cc's are very commonly used to create inefficient ad-hoc mailing lists in the commercial world. Except for a small number of defined processes, cc's are frowned upon at Apache. Mentor need to encourage questions to be asked first on the public lists of the project then raised (if necessary) to the general incubator list.

TODO: content, links, prose, reconsider name for this section

Issue Tracking Transition

Issues for Apache projects should be tracked on Apache hardware. Some projects arrive with existing issues tracking. So, in the end these need to be replaced (for new development at least) by the Apache issues tracker. Options need to be discussed publically on list and a consensus reached about the best transition strategy.

Podling IP Clearance

The board has charged the Incubator project with management of IP clearance for Apache. Instructions are here.

These equally apply to podlings. The Incubator project is responsible for all podlings and so is the receiving PMC. So, when a podling requests IP clearance, the IPMC wears two hats. This may be a little confusing at first.

The Incubator PMC must approve the clearance. This indicates that the project is happy to receive the code donated. When a new podling is created, this is done by the identification of existing codebases in the proposal. Otherwise, the IPMC delegates this decision to the PPMC.

As usual, three binding votes are required. So, Mentors need to be involved in IP clearance for podlings. If too few binding VOTEs are posted on list, the VOTE will need to be posted to the general list for ratification.

The second hat is technical IP clearance. Here, the IPMC needs to check that the paperwork is in order. Once the acceptance vote has been approved, an officer or member need to complete the process. For a podling, this will typically involve a Mentor.

Create Initial Website

Podlings are free to use any technology desired to generate static content to be served under http://${podling-name} However, the infrastructure team has some requirements for the publication process to manage the load on servers. The page linked below on the Apache CMS has more information.

Some popular choices are:

It is recommended that an initial site is uploaded as soon as possible (to - for example - allow indexing by search engines). The initial site can be replaced by a fuller site later. Read the Podling Website Guide for more information.

Apache Infrastructure does not guarantee that site content stored only on the www server will be fully backed up in the event of failure. Consider checking the site into version control if it needs to be comprehensively backed up.

Projects with an existing website who move to Apache need to consider what they plan to do with it. A decision should be reached and action upon before graduation.

Web Site Transition

Projects may arrive with existing web sites outside Apache. Contributing as much documentation as possible to the project from these sites is strongly encouraged. Offshore sites related to projects are fine but official web sites for Apache projects should be hosted by Apache.

Some projects elect to maintain previous releases outside Apache. In this case, the existing site is typically retained as a hub for this maintenance work. Otherwise, sites should link or redirect to the official Apache site.

Apache may accept donations of domains related to projects moving here. Infrastructure will then arrange for renewal of the domains and redirection of traffic the official site. Ask infrastructure for more details.

Apache needs to deal with all commercial entities equitably. Linking to useful information on commercial sites is fine but unfair discrimination between commercial sites is not. Most Apache projects find it better to simply link only to relevant articles on commercial sites rather than having to vet every request for links to commercial activity.


Prospective Committers

These are the people listed as initial committers in the proposal.

Infrastructure Team

Tasks that cannot safely be delegated to projects are handled by the Apache Infrastructure team. The relevant instructions MUST be followed. JIRA is typically used to manage workflow. This allows progress to be easily tracked.

Incubator Access Authorization

Special karma is required to authorize incubator access for committers. This karma is limited to:

  • PMC Chairs (past and present)
  • Selected people in the Infrastructure team

If any mentor has karma then they should authorize the committer. To grant authorization, update:


Edit the file to add the new committer to the podling authorization:


If no mentor has karma then an email should be posted to the IPMC private list requesting that the grant is performed. One of the IPMCers with karma will authorize the committer.