I am trying to choose the perfect license for my project....

After doing research I ran into a question which I could not find an answer to:

My question:

What's the difference between bazaar-style and cathedral-style open source projects?


1 Answer 1


The idea of the Cathedral and the Bazaar is a metaphor from the book named 'The Cathedral and the Bazaar' from open-source evangelist Eric S. Raymond.

The metaphor describes two different development-models for projects (not necessarily open source).

The cathedral is a centralized effort. A defined group of developers (or even only a single one) is developing the software. Nobody else is involved and ideas or patches from the outside will be ignored. Usually proprietary software is developed that way, but this is not exclusively.

The Bazaar makes the development open. Many people are tinkering with the source code without central control. Many are contributing.

In reality many OSS-projects are in between the two models.

  • After watchign RevolutionOS twice a year for the past 15 years (I use it as part of a class...) I'd also say that cathedral-like development would be very similar to the waterfall method whereas bazaar-like development would be similar to Agile
    – ivanivan
    Jun 15, 2018 at 18:13
  • FWIW, the Android Open Source Project is a great example of an open source project that is run as a Cathedral. Submitting patches to AOSP is a painful waste of time for the most part.
    – RubberDuck
    Jul 8, 2018 at 12:13
  • One more point is that cathedral style code is shared among the developers between releases and becomes publicly available upon release. That's not always the case of course, with some projects pushing to public repos or publishing nightlies.
    – user7262
    Oct 23, 2018 at 0:59
  • 1
    Is GNU an example of Cathedral?
    – Pandya
    Aug 25, 2019 at 16:14
  • 1
    @Pandya historically they were, but nowadays they're bazaar too. Nowadays it's pretty much only a few big companies that truly do cathedral for open source stuff. Mar 14, 2021 at 13:44

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