Open Source Patching
Contributing to existing open source projects is encouraged! Whether you’re patching a Google project, a personal project, an external one, or forking an existing repository, this page applies to you. There are some requirements before you start patching, and guides to help you figure out the right path.
For all patches to open source projects:
If patching a project on GitHub, you must register your GitHub ID at go/github first.
Please associate your commit with your google.com email unless you have a history of contributing to the repo under a different email before your employment at Google. How to associate your commit with a google.com email.
Optional: you may add Google LLC as a project author in the AUTHORS file. This helps provide visibility into Google/Googlers’ contributions to open source.
There is no limit on the size or complexity of a patch, but if the patch is less than or equal to 100 lines of code, refer to the Snippets policy below. Please recall that Google will claim copyright and other ownership rights over your patches.
Patches that don’t require any review!
You may submit your patch for any of the following repos without using the form at the bottom of this page. No review required! You must still follow the common rules.
NOTE: If a project below requires you to sign a Contributor License Agreement (CLA), you must still email emailremoved@ for review before patching.
- Any project which is:
- A public repo on GitHub
- AND is under the Apache 2, MIT, BSD, LGPL*, GPL*, MPL, EPL, ISC,
CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, OFL, MS-PL, Boost Software License, Unlicense, or
- See Identifying license type for help identifying a repository’s license type.
- AND does not require you to sign a CLA that is not found on the pre-approved CLA list.
- AND is not on the list below of projects that require SVP approval.
- Nextstrain projects, including those that are AGPL licensed
- Any repo for which you’ve already been given blanket approval from OSPO or used the approval form once
- Any Google-maintained open source project like Chromium, Android, Go, etc
These exceptions to the review requirement exist regardless of the length of the patch.
Projects that require SVP approval
Patches to the following projects are not allowed without SVP approval. Please obtain SVP approval by email and forward it to emailremoved@. You may also email emailremoved@ with any questions.
List of projects removed.
Our general philosophy is that we do not allow patches to projects that Google cannot use, either because of the terms of the license or Google policy. For example, we can’t use software that restricts commercial use, and so we don’t contribute to those projects. In some cases, you may be able to contribute to these projects via IARC.
You can’t patch projects with any of the following licenses:
- No License
- AGPL (except those with special exceptions)
- CC0 (not OSI approved)
- CC BY-NC-* (this restricts Google’s access to that code)
- Hippocratic License or similar “Ethical Source” licenses (not OSI approved)
- Private repositories (unless under a written agreement between Google and a third party)
See go/whatisalicense for more information on licenses.
Do not upload your Google-specific dotfiles to GitHub or other external source control systems. This is a classic way to leak confidential information. See go/eng-resources/dotfiles for techniques to ensure you don’t leak information in your dotfiles.
Use the form for all other patches, but only once per repo.
IMPORTANT: You must go through this process (and submit the form if necessary) before sharing a patch externally (i.e. pushing it to GitHub or another non-Google repository or emailing it outside the company.)
You only need to go through this process once per repository. But remember that the common rules apply to all patches.
IMPORTANT: You can’t sign Contributor License Agreements (CLAs) for any companies or projects not listed below. If you want to sign an unlisted CLA, email it to emailremoved@ for review.
Google already has CLAs on file with:
List of on-file CLAs removed.
You may sign the Pre-Approved Individual CLAs listed below:
List of OK to sign individual CLAs removed.
Google requires CLAs for our own projects, but Googlers should never need to sign them. If you are being prompted to sign it, see go/cla#googlers to make sure you are recognized as a Googler.
Pre-existing copyright lines
If you are patching a file that contains some other company’s copyright, you do not need to add Google’s copyright to it.
Identifying license type
To figure out what license a repository uses, GitHub may help you out. Under the description of the repository, GitHub will display the type of license if it is able to identify it.
If it is unable to identify the license, the README may name it for you or you can directly examine the LICENSE file to determine the license. SPDX can help you figure out the exact type of license.
Forking on GitHub
There are two primary reasons to fork a repository on GitHub:
- To contribute to the upstream repository
- To create a permanent fork in order to take the project in a different direction, and not contribute upstream
Forking to contribute
Forking a repository into your personal account (e.g.
part of the
standard GitHub contribution flow.
This is expected and perfectly fine; just make sure you follow the rules on this
page when pushing any changes to your forked repository. Unless you plan to
continue contributing to the project over time, we encourage you to remove the
fork after your change has been merged upstream.
If you are intending to fork a repo and NOT send the changes upstream (for example, you want to make a custom version of the project, or take it in a different direction), then you must proceed through go/releasing.
Things which aren’t patches & don’t require review
<= 100 lines of code
In addition to patches to existing open source projects, you may use the patching form to publish self contained code or snippets if ALL of the following are true:
- Posted to a presentation, GitHub gist, pastebin, mailing list, web forum, chat room (e.g. IRC, Slack), etc.
- Is a self-contained unit. (e.g. not split into multiple attachments.)
- NOT more than 100 lines of code.
- NOT otherwise checked into a repository as the sharing mechanism.
If any of the above are not satisfied, you must follow go/releasing.
IMPORTANT: You must add the following header:
Copyright 2020 Google LLC. SPDX-License-Identifier: Apache-2.0
These do not require human review, so you can check the instant approval box on the form.
If you have a more substantial piece of code (i.e. closer to 100 lines than to
10) or it’s otherwise non-disruptive, you are encouraged to include the full
Apache license header instead of
You may file a bug without requesting human review. The patching form is not required.
However, any content being added to a repository, whether it is code or simply plain text, is a patch that is governed by this process.
Administering open source repositories
If you are an administrator of an open source repository, you may continue to do administrative work such as accept pull requests, respond to comments, open and close issues, and other admin work without using this form. This includes publishing new releases of existing projects.
You do not need approval to package up existing open source projects for Debian, or to maintain an existing configuration for Debian, or to otherwise administer a Debian package for an open source project.
However, if you wish to substantively modify or substantively contribute to an underlying open source project, please do so under the regular go/patching guidance.
You can answer questions on Stack Overflow without using this form, but you still must add the appropriate headers to your code snippets:
Copyright 2020 Google LLC. SPDX-License-Identifier: Apache-2.0
Submit your patch
Include the first 150 lines of the patch. This can be generated using
format-patch -n HEAD~1 --stdout | head -n 150 or a similar command, and should
include the author line containing your google.com email.
Embedded form removed. It asks for a pointer to the code, the license, and the first 150 lines of the patch.
Except as otherwise noted, the content of this page is licensed under CC-BY-4.0 license. Third-party product names and logos may be the trademarks of their respective owners.