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Who Owns and Manages Firebird?

Code Maintenance

No commercial organisation “owns” Firebird. It is the common property of the project members.

Its legal and financial interests are handled by the Firebird Foundation, a non-profit organisation incorporated and administered in New South Wales, Australia.


The development team is self-managing. Decisions about what goes into a release are made by consensus in a closed forum made up the active developers, the build managers (these are the people who compile the release kits and installers), the documentation coordinator and a release manager.

The Firebird Foundation, per se, is not involved in directing or managing the development effort at all, although there is a degree of overlap (project members who are also Foundation members).

Code Maintenance

Firebird has behind it a solid, well-maintained codebase with many eyes constantly upon it at all levels, from architecture to design to implementation and testing.

Release Policy

The development team holds fast to the principle of not making a production release until and unless all outstanding issues in QA testing are resolved to the satisfaction of the project's administrators. Releases and sub-releases go through multiple beta and pre-release testing cycles. The downside of such tight discipline is that production release dates are not firm.

Releases represent major enhancements and new features. Sub-releases occur periodically between major releases to implement bug fixes and minor enhancements to existing features and tools, or to complete features that were partly implemented in a previous release or sub-release.

For client applications, the only essential requirement is to upgrade the run-time client library to the version matching the major release. Application vendors may also wish to incorporate new features into their software and synchronise the installation of a new Firebird release with installing new modules or versions of client and application server software.

Open Source Licensing

The Firebird source code is licensed under two derivatives of the Mozilla Public License v.1.1. (MPL). Modules that originated from the InterBase codebase are maintained under the InterBase Public License v.1.0, while the Initial Developer's Public License (IDPL) applies to new modules.

The IPL and the IDPL differ from MPL 1.1 only insofar as they remove some implied proprietary rights that the Netscape Corporation built into the Mozilla licences. The IDPL differs from the IPL in that it excludes “Inprise Corporation” from the severality of the source code copyright.

The MPL-style licences differ from the well-known Gnu Public Licenses (GPL) in that they are not “viral”. “Viral” is a term that describes the GPL restriction of forbidding code under that license from being compiled with other source code modules unless those modules are themselves made open source under the GPL. A non-viral licence permits modules to be compiled with closed, proprietary code, making it more useable for commercial software development.

However, like the GPL and most open source licences, the MPL-style licenses require that all changes to the licensed code itself be made freely available to the public and that the licensed code not be distributed under any other licence.


The designers and programmers who develop Firebird are volunteers, mainly self-employed people or people with other jobs who work part-time on the Firebird code. Some are funded directly or indirectly by their employers, by being allocated company time to work on Firebird.

A number of the most active “core” developers (those working on the Firebird engine itself) are assisted by regular grants from funds raised by the Firebird Foundation, thus enabling them to commit to a minimum number of hours per month. The project has one designer/coder whose grant is sufficient to enable him to work full-time on the project. Grant assistance is also available to project members developing and supporting interface drivers.

Funding sources are Foundation membership subscriptions, company sponsorships and company and private donations. The Foundation draws its membership, sponsorships and donations from the end-user community and vendor companies that incorporate Firebird in their commercial products, as a way to put something back into the development.

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Firebird Documentation IndexFirebird Enterprise Whitepaper → Who Owns and Manages Firebird?