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Open Container Initiative Charter v1.3

Comment Effective Date
Initial release 13 November 2015
Update 18 May 2020
Update (simplify) 4 June 2020
Add Working Groups 10 Aug 2021

1. Mission of the Open Container Initiative (“OCI”).

The Open Container Initiative provides an open source technical community within which industry participants may easily contribute to building vendor-neutral, portable and open specifications, reference implementations, and tools that deliver on the promise of containers as a source of application portability backed by a certification program.

The Open Container Initiative does not seek to be a marketing organization, define a full stack or solution requirements, and will strive to avoid standardizing technical areas undergoing innovation and debate.

2. OCI Projects

a. The OCI will maintain a collection of projects to execute its Mission (“OCI Projects”). The initial OCI Projects shall be the specification (“OCI Specification”) and runtime (“runc”) projects. When an OCI Project claims that a feature is provided from the OCI Specification, all of its constituent parts shall comply with the OCI Specification. An OCI project may have additional capabilities that are not reflected in the associated specification. In this case, it is understood that the specification (and any associated test suites) are the standard for judging compliance, not the reference implementation.

b. OCI Projects may be modified by the Technical Oversight Board so long as such modifications are in the spirit of the original charter. For example, the TOB may choose to add a top level Compliance Test Suite project or a reference implementation for an optional layer item.

c. Any Member can bring forward a new project proposal to the TOB for review. Approval of new OCI Projects requires a two-thirds vote of the TOB.

d. A project need not be contributed to the OCI in order to be deemed compliant with an associated OCI specification. For avoidance of doubt, a runtime can be compliant with the OCI Specification even if: a)it differs substantially from runC, b)it is housed outside the OCI, c)it is licensed differently from runC, including if it is licensed under a proprietary license.

e. In order to support d. above, it is expected that:

  • i. there may be functionality in runC that is not included in the specification, provided that such functionality does not compromise compliance with the specification, and
  • ii. there may be multiple other implementations of the specification that also contain functionality not included in the specification, and
  • iii. there will be a strong bias to exclude items from the specification in technical areas undergoing significant innovation and debate, especially if those areas are likely to be the basis of differentiation between competing implementations.

3. Membership.

a. The Open Container Initiative shall be composed of:

  • i. OCI Members: Corporate Members of The Linux Foundation that have executed an OCI Membership Agreement to sponsor the activities of the OCI Community and a certification program through a Trademark Board;
  • ii. an open source, Technical Developer Community (“TDC”), open to any individual, whether an employee of an OCI Member or not;
  • iii. a Technical Oversight Board (“TOB”); and
  • iv. A Trademark Board.

b. OCI Members shall be entitled to:

  • i. participate in OCI Trademark Board meetings, OCI Projects, and any other activities sponsored by the OCI;
  • ii. identify their company as a member or participant in the OCI;
  • iii. use any approved OCI membership logo in compliance with guidelines established by the LF Trademark Board
  • iv. vote in all decisions of the OCI Trademark Board.

c. OCI non-Member Participants shall be entitled to fully participate in all OCI Projects subject to the terms of this Charter and any policies adopted by the Trademark Board.

4. Trademark Board

a. The Trademark Board shall be composed of one representative appointed by each OCI Member. A Member may appoint an alternative representative for any meeting.

b. Trademark Board meetings may be held in-person or via electronic conferencing. The Trademark Board shall establish its own meeting schedule and operating procedures.

c. Quorum for holding meetings shall be established when a simple majority of Trademark Board representatives is present.

d. The intention is for the OCI to operate by consensus. However, if consensus cannot be achieved, the Trademark Board shall vote on a decision. Votes either at meetings, via email or electronic voting service, shall be based on a one vote per Active Member basis, requiring a simple majority of votes cast to pass. An abstain vote equals not voting at all. An Active Member is defined as any OCI Member whose representative attended (including by telephone or electronic conference or meeting) at least one of the last four Trademark Board meetings. An alternative representative’s attendance counts as participation for determining whether a Member is an Active Member.

e. The Trademark Board is intended to provide a minimalist governance structure around the development and use of the OCI trademarks and shall be responsible for:

  • i. creating the OCI trademarks associated with OCI Projects (including the OCI Specification Project), the Open Container Format (OCF) or OCI certified solutions.
  • ii. creating a certification program establishing the requirements for achieving the status of an “OCI Certified Solution” and defining the terms for using any OCI trademark(s) for an OCI Certified Solution;
  • iii. approving the use of OCI funds for specific trademark a trademark registration program, and for enforcement actions, if any, that may be advisable;
  • iv. creating and approving a budget directing the LF how to use the OCI funds raised from all sources of revenue;
  • v. organizing and directing marketing initiatives including, but not limited to, press releases, website updates, and creation of collateral and branding materials;
  • vi. electing a Chair of the Trademark Board each January, or at another time of its choosing by an approved vote of the Trademark Board, to preside over meetings, set agendas, authorize budgeted expenditures and managing any day-to-day operations; and
  • vii. voting on other decisions or matters that may come before the Trademark Board, including adopting policies related to the scope of the Trademark Board which shall be documented for Members.

f. Any certification program established by the OCI Trademark Board must support a vendor-neutral process and requirements, including specifically, the ability for solutions to be certified on multiple operating systems and usable in multiple environment implementations.

g. Any issues that cannot be resolved by the Trademark Board shall be referred to The Linux Foundation for resolution.

h. For avoidance of doubt, OCI membership does not convey any rights to directly influence the technical direction of any OCI Project. That influence will come through code and specification contributions to the technical projects.

5. Technical Developer Community

a. The OCI hosts and supports the participation of a technical development community (“OCI TDC”) in OCI Projects. The OCI TDC shall be open to any developer, end user or subject matter expert that chooses to participate in the activities of OCI, regardless of whether the participant is employed by an OCI Member company so long as his or her contributions and conduct comply with this Charter.

b. The OCI TDC has an established scope of work focused on:

  • i. Creating and maintaining formal specifications (the OCI Specification project) for container image formats and runtime, which will allow a compliant container to be portable across all major, compliant operating systems and platforms without artificial technical barriers;
  • ii. Ensuring that OCI Specifications incorporate and align to the OCI Values, as defined in Section 8 below;
  • iii. The TDC will look to agree on a standard set of container actions (e.g. start, exec, pause) as well as a runtime environment associated with the container runtime;
  • iv. Creating and maintaining test cases that shall serve as the testing functions for achieving certification as an OCI Certified Solution;
  • v. Engaging end users for feedback or input on OCI Projects, including, but not limited to, relating to usability;
  • vi. Ensuring that all OCI Projects follow and adhere to the OCI IP Policy;
  • vii. Approving releases by OCI Projects;
  • viii. Creating, maintaining and enforcing governance guidelines for the TDC, approved by the maintainers, and which shall be posted visibly for the TDC. The guidelines shall cover the following:
  • ix. establishing and defining roles and responsibilities (at a minimum, a role for committers or maintainers authorized to commit code to the codebase);
  • x. defining the process or requirements to take on a role in the TDC (e.g. how to become a contributor, or how to become a maintainer);
  • xi. the process by which participants in the TDC may give up or be revoked of their roles (e.g. how to remove maintainers); the rules for decision making in the TDC; and
  • xii. any workflow or processes participants are expected to follow in making or merging contributions.
  • xiii. Attempting to harmonize the OCI Specifications with other proposed standards, including, but not limited to, the appc specification;
  • xiv. Ensuring that the scope of technologies promulgated and proposed as standard elements of OCI Projects (including the OCI Specification) are those that are sufficiently widespread and sufficiently mature and stable so as to warrant establishment in the specification;
  • xv. Referring to the Technical Oversight Board any issues that deal with failure to follow established technical governance, issues that impact multiple OCI Projects or specifications, or conflicts that cannot be resolved within the TDC. Issues shall be referred to the TOB according to the requirements in Section 6.; and
  • xvi. Any issues of non-compliance with the OCI IP Policy shall be immediately referred to The Linux Foundation.

c. The maintainers and contributors shall set the technical direction of the OCI Projects, with minimal interference by the Technical Oversight Board;

d. The TDC will only accept influence through contribution. The primary means for any organization to influence the technical direction of the OCI Projects is via contribution or service as maintainers. OCI Members specifically disclaim any right to influence technical direction either on the basis of their financial contributions or their existence as OCI Members;

e. The maintainers of the TDC shall be those listed in the MAINTAINERS file in the project repository, available at (

6. Technical Oversight Board (TOB)

a. The TOB is responsible for managing conflicts, violations of procedures or guidelines and any cross-project or high-level issues that cannot be resolved in the TDC for OCI Projects. The TOB shall also be responsible for adding, removing or reorganizing OCI Projects. The TOB shall not dictate or interfere with the day-to-day work of individual OCI Projects or their decisions.

b. The TOB shall be responsible for adopting any policies related to the scope of the TOB and ensuring they are documented publicly.

c. The TOB shall operate transparently with any discussions and mailing lists open to the community. The TOB may choose to set up a private discussion or mailing list if a situation warrants a private discussion (e.g. removing a TOB member, addressing a legal issue), but the general expectation is that the TOB’s discussions and decisions are open to the OCI Community. If a decision is made in private, the TOB must follow all quorum and voting requirements as normally required and shall be responsible for notifying the OCI Community of the decision and rationale. Any private meeting of the TOB shall also require a representative from The Linux Foundation to ensure this option is not being abused.

d. While the initial TDC shall have one TDC, as the OCI evolves, the TOB may decide to establish a TDC per OCI Project, requiring contributors to earn maintainer status independently within each OCI Project in which they wish to participate.

e. The TOB shall be composed of nine (9) individuals elected for their expertise, contribution to the advancement of container technologies and are considered to be thought leaders in the OCI ecosystem. Anyone may be elected to the TOB, regardless of whether the individual is an employee of an OCI Member, so long as they are an OCI TDC participant. A TOB member is elected as an individual and not as a representative of his or her employer. No more than two (2) TOB members may be employed by the same entity or its affiliates. Affiliates shall be defined as entities owning 50% or more of an entity, or owned by or under common ownership with each other. TOB members may not designate alternative representatives.

f. TOB members shall be split into two (2) groups, serving for a term of two (2) years on a staggered basis, where one group is elected each year. The initial TOB will have four (4) TOB members who will only serve for a term of one year and five (5) TOB members that serve for a term of two (2) years.

g. The initial TOB shall be established through a nomination and election process. The first group from which four (4) TOB members shall be elected, will be nominated and elected by the current TDC maintainers, initially identified in Section 4(e), and serve for a period of one (1) year. Each TDC maintainer may nominate up to two (2) candidates for election, except that only one (1) nominee may be employed by the TDC maintainer’s own company. The second group from which five (5) TOB members shall be elected, will be nominated and elected by the OCI Members and serve for a period of two (2) years. Each OCI Member may nominate one (1) candidate for election.

h. Initial elections of TOB members shall be run using the Condorcet-IRV method through the Cornell online service ( The TOB may change the methodology or service used in future elections via a two-thirds approval vote of the then-serving TOB.

i. The TOB shall elect a TOB Chair. The nominee with the most votes from the TOB members shall win the Chair position for a term of one (1) year. In the event of a tie vote, a random selection process (e.g. coin toss) shall be used to determine the winner. The TOB Chair shall have the responsibility to call meetings of the TOB and set TOB meeting agendas with input from TOB members.

j. The TOB shall meet on an as-needed basis, in a timely manner after issues are directed to the TOB from:

  • i. the TDC by a simple majority vote of the maintainers when there is an issue that needs the resolution to assist the TDC to move forward,
  • ii. as the TOB determines via vote of at least two-thirds of the TOB members
  • iii. the TOB Chair determines a meeting is necessary.

k. TOB meetings may be held in-person or via telephone or electronic conferencing.

l. Issues should be referred to the TOB sufficiently in advance of a meeting to provide an appropriate time for TOB members to evaluate the issues, and the positions of the TDC, the positions of users, as well as sufficient time to explore compromise solutions. It is expected an appropriate review should require at least a two-week review period, though it is recognized some timecritical circumstances may call for a shorter review (e.g. security issues).

m. Quorum for holding meetings shall be established when two-thirds of TOB members are present.

n. The intention is for the TOB to operate by consensus. However, if consensus cannot be achieved, the Trademark Board shall vote on a decision. All TOB Votes, either at TOB meetings, via email or electronic voting service, shall pass with a two-thirds vote of votes cast, on a one (1) vote per TOB member basis. An abstain vote equals not voting at all.

o. Any issues that cannot be resolved by the TOB shall be referred to The Linux Foundation Executive Director for mediation, and, if necessary, for resolution by The Linux Foundation Board of Directors.

p. OCI Working Groups.

  • i. The OCI may establish one or more working groups (each, an “OCI Working Group”) to experiment, validate, and define new OCI Specifications or major revisions to existing OCI Specifications. Each OCI Working Group shall have a defined scope of the OCI Working Group's intended activities and goals. The end result of the OCI Working Group's work product shall be either:

    • an update to an existing OCI Specification (for example, adding support for a new set of features);
    • a new OCI Specification (for example, creating an OCI Specification for a new topical area); or
    • a new OCI Project other than a Specification (for example, creating a reference implementation of an OCI Specification).
  • ii. Any participant in the OCI technical community may propose a working group to the TOB for consideration. The TOB shall maintain a public list of the information required to be included in a working group proposal.

  • iii. Approval of a new OCI Working Group requires a two-thirds vote of the TOB. The TOB will maintain a public list of all approved OCI Working Groups.

  • iv. Once an OCI Working Group determines that it has achieved its objectives, the OCI Working Group leaders shall present to the TOB the draft specification or other project, along with such other information as the TOB may require for evaluation of the draft specification or other project. The TOB shall maintain a public list of such required information.

  • v. Approval of the draft specification (to be released as an OCI Specification) or other draft project (to become an OCI Project) shall require a two-thirds vote of the TOB. For a draft specification, prior to such approval the OCI Working Group may not describe it as a released OCI Specification, and must designate it with a -draft.# suffix.

  • vi. Following TOB approval of a draft specification to be released as an OCI Specification, the OCI Specification's maintainers may determine the process for making subsequent releases, provided that (1) such process is subject to TOB review, approval and modification, and (2) following any release of a new version of an OCI Specification, OCI shall notify all Members as set forth in Section 8(d) of this Charter.

  • vii. The TOB may, by a two-thirds vote, approve requests from the owners of an OCI Working Group to (a) amend the OCI Working Group's governance document, or (b) adjust the composition of the owners or maintainers of that OCI Working Group. The TOB may also, by a two-thirds vote, elect to disband an OCI Working Group in its discretion, including if the TOB determines that the OCI Working Group has not made meaningful progress or has become inactive.

7. OCI Values.

The TDC and TOB shall strive to reflect and adhere to the following values (“OCI Values”) for OCI Projects:

a. Composable. All tools for downloading, installing, and running containers should be well integrated, but independent and composable. A container runtime should not be bound to clients, to higher-level frameworks, etc.

b. Portable. The runtime standard should be usable across different hardware, operating systems, and cloud environments.

c. Secure. Isolation should be pluggable, and the cryptographic primitives for strong trust, image auditing and application identity should be solid.

d. Decentralized. Discovery of container images should be simple and facilitate a federated namespace and distributed retrieval.

e. Open. The format and runtime should be well-specified and developed by a community. OCI encourages independent implementations of tools to be able to run the same container consistently. Within the OCI Community, code development leads specification development, rather than vice-versa. The OCI Community seeks rough consensus and running code.

f. Minimalist. The OCI Specifications should aim to do a few things well, be minimal and stable, and enable innovation and experimentation above and around it.

g. Backward compatible. The first version of the OCI Specification should strive to be backwards compatible with the initial container image format and runtime contribution. OCI Specifications and code should strive to be backward compatible with the prior releases of the OCI Specification.

8. OCI IP Policy.

a. All new inbound contributions to OCI will be made under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (available at accompanied by a Developer Certificate of Origin sign-off ( All contributions by Member employees will bind their employers in accordance with this policy, including the patent and copyright license grants in the Apache License, Version 2.0.

b. All outbound code and documentation will be made available under the Apache License, Version 2.0.

c. If an alternative inbound or outbound license is required for compliance with the license for a leveraged open source project, is otherwise required to achieve OCI’s mission or is in the best interests of OCI, the TOB may approve the use of an alternative license for inbound or outbound contributions on an exception basis. Please email to obtain exception approval.

d. Upon finalization and release of a new version of any OCI specification, OCI will notify all Members in writing using the contact information provided in Exhibit A. As set forth in Section 12 of this Charter, Members may resign from membership in OCI at any time within thirty (30) days following such notification to avoid undertaking further obligations with respect to such specification. All Members on the date thirty (30) days following such notification will, without further action, be subject to the obligations set forth in the Open Web Foundation Final Specification Agreement (OWFa 1.0) (Patent Only) with respect to such specification.

e. On the effective date of their membership, all Members will, without further action, be subject to the obligations set forth in the OWFa 1.0 (Patent Only) with respect to the current and one immediately prior version of all OCI specifications, a version being a numerically designated version of the specification formally released following the thirty day period provided for in (d) above. Each new version of the specification will be designated by a change in the number to the left of the decimal point (x in an x.y format where y designates interim update releases).

9. Antitrust Guidelines

a. All Members shall abide by The Linux Foundation Antitrust Policy available at

b. All Members shall encourage open participation from any organization able to meet the membership requirements, regardless of competitive interests. Put another way, the OCI shall not seek to exclude any entity or any individual from OCI membership or OCI Project participation based on any criteria, requirements or reasons other than reasonable and appropriate criteria and requirements approved under this Charter and applied in a nondiscriminatory fashion to all.

10. Budget

a. The Trademark Board shall approve an annual budget and never commit to spend in excess of OCI membership and other OCI directed funds raised byThe Linux Foundation from all sources, including OCI membership fees. The budget and all OCI activities shall be consistent with the non-profit mission of The Linux Foundation.

b. So long as funds are sufficient, the OCI Budget shall include funds for a parttime program manager, or at the Trademark Board’s discretion, an Executive Director, to assist OCI with project management, organizing meetings and assisting in driving initiatives of the Trademark Board, TDC or TOB.

c. The Linux Foundation shall provide regular reports of spend levels against the budget.

d. The Linux Foundation shall have custody of and final authority over the usage of all OCI fees, funds and other cash receipts. To the extent that OCI acquires ownership in any intellectual property, ownership shall reside in The Linux Foundation.

11. The Linux Foundation General Rules and Operations.

The OCI, and as appropriate, its Members and participants, shall operate under such rules and policies as may from time to time be applicable to Linux Foundation hosted projects, and, in addition, shall:

a. demonstrate plans and the means to coordinate with the TDC, including on topics such as branding, logos, and other collateral that will represent the OCI Community;

b. engage in a professional manner consistent with maintaining a cohesive community, while also maintaining the goodwill and esteem of The Linux Foundation in the open source software community;

c. respect the rights of all trademark owners, including any branding and usage guidelines;

d. engage The Linux Foundation for all OCI press and analyst relations activities;

e. upon request, provide information regarding OCI Project participation, including information regarding attendance, to The Linux Foundation;

f. engage The Linux Foundation for creation and management of any websites relating directly to the OCI; and

g. operate under such rules and procedures as may from time to time be approved by the OCI and confirmed by The Linux Foundation Board of Directors.

12. Amendments and Notice

a. This Charter may be amended by a two thirds vote of the Technical Oversight Board, subject to veto by The Linux Foundation Board of Directors for reasonable cause, with thirty (30) days’ notice to the OCI Members before taking effect.

b. A Member may resign within such thirty-day notice period, or within the period provided for in Section 8 (d) of this Charter, to avoid undertaking any obligations imposed by any such amendment, or further obligations with respect to a specification, on a going forward basis. Such resignation will not have any effect on commitments made by the OCI Member or participant during the term of membership. Resignation may be made by email to the Executive Director of the Linux Foundation.