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Apache Incubator is the starting point for all open-source software applications and projects to be part of the Apache Software Foundation. Created in 2002, all application software code donations from external projects and vendors must go through the incubator before moving to Apache. Apache Incubator helps the Apache Software Foundation to see that all projects are compatible with the guiding principles of the open source foundation and are all free from legal problems and conflicts.
Apache Incubator is overseen by the Apache Software Foundation which is a non-profit organization that also oversees Apache software development. Similar to rest of the Apache Software Foundation, Apache incubator is also a virtual entity. A project can enter the Apache incubator by its developer stating the intention to donate the intellectual and copyright ownership to the Apache Software Foundation. The projects are selected through meritocratic processes and by determining which projects need the foundation’s support. Some of the well-known projects which have been through Incubator are Cassandra, Apache HTTP Server and Hadoop.
Apache Incubator serves many purposes for Apache Software Foundation efforts. First of all, it can act as the temporary repository for a project until it is accepted and becomes a top-level project or subproject. Apache Incubator provides the documentation of how the Apache Foundation works and the techniques and processes involved within its framework. Projects can thus become familiarized with the style of the Apache Software Foundation and have the guidance of the Incubator PMC mentors as well. The most important purpose of Apache Incubator is to make sure the licensing of the software application and projects are correct and free from legal conflicts. It checks whether the project is compatible and consistent with the open source foundation's guiding principles. It checks on the contributor license agreements of the developers involved in the application development as well.