Varnish Cache organization and day-to-day operation

The Varnish cache project is going through a transition on how it is organized. This page describes the current state of affairs, and the direction we are moving in.

Behavior / Code of conduct

General rules about how contributors should behave within the Varnish Cache project:

  • Show respect for others.

  • Be sensible.

  • If in doubt, think.

  • If still in doubt, ask.

  • Admit your mistakes, it’s faster that way.

  • Thou SHALL not paint bikesheds.

  • We will toss you out of the project rather than add another rule.

Current governance of the project

We recognize that the Truck Factor of the Varnish Cache project is low.

As mitigation we have created a Varnish Governance Board (VGB) and implemented procedures so no project asset have a Truck Factor less than 3.

The Varnish Governance Board is the ultimate authority in the project, but does little to nothing on a daily basis.

The important thing is that there is agreement beforehand about who has the authority to step in, if need be.

Appointment to the VGB is by acclamation, and we prefer the members to have enough distance and neutrality to be able to resolve conflicts, should it ever become necessary.

Current members of the VGB:

  • Rogier Mulhuijzen

  • Lasse Karstensen

  • Poul-Henning Kamp

Governance of the Varnish Cache Project in the near future

The Varnish Governance Board (VGB) was originally nominated to formally govern the project in order to mitigate a low Truck Factor and resolve conflicts, but has been inactive for several years.

As of September 2019, Martin Blix Grydeland (Varnish Software) and Nils Goroll (UPLEX) have been tasked by the participants of the Varnish Developer Day (VDD) with working out a suggestion for bootstrapping the process to transfer the Varnish Cache project to an independent legal entity in the form of a Verein / Forening / Foundation. This entity would then elect a new VGB, which should have enough distance and neutrality to be able to resolve conflicts, should it ever become necessary.

Maintainer Roles

Regarding the day-to-day development of Varnish-Cache, decisions are made by project maintainers on:

  • disputed pull requests

  • VIPs

  • which contributors should be granted the commit bit

  • and all other relevant decisions regarding the design of Varnish Cache

When a change is proposed, maintainers must get ample time to review the proposition. Then, if the maintainers who are for the change outnumber the ones against by at least two, the pull request can be merged or the change implemented.

Maintainers are nominated by VDD participants by majority decision, and will in the future be ratified by the VGB.

As of September 2019, three maintainer “hats” have been nominated, held by

  • Firma den Andensidste Viking (Poul-Henning Kamp)

  • Varnish Software


The companies will nominate a developer as their maintainer, and this can vary throughout the year (to allow for vacations etc.).

The Varnish Developer Day

The Varnish Developer Day (VDD) has, in recent years, been by invitation only, and traditionally, core developers and relevant supporters of the project participated. The exact rules for future Developer Days are still to be worked out, but the project will continue to invite all developers who have made meaningful contributions. The purpose of the VDD will remain to provide a platform for discussion of technical aspects of Varnish and its implementation.

We are also looking to bring back Varnish User Group (VUG) meetings before or after VDDs so that Varnish users can take a bigger part in, and have a bigger influence on the direction of Varnish Cache.

Bugs, pull requests, feature requests

Bugs start out as GitHub issues or, if they already have a patch, Pull Requests.

Security issues should be reported responsibly, by sending a PGP encrypted email to one or more of the maintainers. See Security, bugs & vulnerabilities for more information on this.

Feature requests should be sent to the varnish-misc mailing list. A feature request which is considered important and where a developer is assigned to implement it, can be made into an issue. The list is meant to be a place where developers can bring up ideas of features and their implementation, before the actual code is written.

If a feature request make sense, but is not picked up by a developer, it gets moved to a wiki/VIP page until somebody implements it.

Monday at 15:00-15:30 (EU time) we “bug-wash” on IRC to decide who handles which issue and how. See the Getting Help for details on how to reach us on IRC. Maintainers are present during the bug-wash, and external contributors are encouraged to attend to discuss any Pull Requests or bug reports they have submitted.

Pull requests are obligatory for all contributions, unless they qualify for the exceptions laid out below.

Everybody are encouraged to review pull requests.

Maintainers can approve pull requests, as described in Maintainer Roles above.

The exception to the pull request process are trivial, risk free changes, which can be committed and pushed (by a developer with the commit bit) without a review. These include in particular, but are not limited to,

  • Documentation changes, unless they concern policies or governance of the project

  • Simple bug fixes tested by a varnishtest case (VTC).

The commit bit

The commit bit is handed out to contributors who have proven their knowledge of Varnish internals, and must be approved unanimously by the maintainers.

Committers who have not made contributions in 18 months will have their commit bit suspended, but can ask the maintainers to hand it back.

Commit bits expire after 36 months with no contribution.