OpenFOAM is free, open source software for CFD from the OpenFOAM Foundation.
OpenFOAM is the leading free, open source software for CFD, owned by the OpenFOAM Foundation and distributed exclusively under the General Public Licence (GPL). The GPL gives users the freedom to modify and redistribute the software and a guarantee of continued free use, within the terms of the licence.
OpenFOAM was created by Henry Weller in 1989 under the name “FOAM” and was released open source as “OpenFOAM” by Henry Weller, Chris Greenshields and Mattijs Janssens in December 2004. Since then, OpenFOAM has continued to be managed and developed with new versions being released to the public each year. The current version is 4.1. In 2014, the development line of OpenFOAM , known as “OpenFOAM-dev” was released publicly on GitHub.
The OpenFOAM Foundation is the organisaton which holds the copyright of the OpenFOAM software and documentation, whose purpose is to manage and distribute OpenFOAM as free, open source software for the benefit of its users. It is a registered company, limited by guarantee based in England. As such, it has no share capital or shareholders, but has individual members committed to free, open source software, who run the organisation on a voluntary basis. It has no employees and any annual profit is retained within the organisation and cannot be distributed to members.
OpenFOAM is packaged for simple installation on Ubuntu Linux. The packaged version is then included in a Docker image that can be installed on other Linux distributions and macOS. 2 versions are available for installation:
OpenFOAM is developed and maintained by individuals who contribute their work to the project, with the support and consent of the companies that employ them. The project operates through a network of trust between the individuals, where greater authority is given to contributors who consistently produce high quality work and demonstrate long term commitment.
Contributions are made under the OpenFOAM Contributor Agreement (to facilitate enforcement of the free, open source licence), signed either by the individual, or by the organisation that employs them. The principal contributors to OpenFOAM are: Henry Weller (OpenFOAM’s creator) and Chris Greenshields (OpenFOAM co-founder), both from CFD Direct Ltd; Bruno Santos, from blueCAPE; and Will Bainbridge, also of CFD Direct. There is a growing list of contributors, who test and improve various aspects of OpenFOAM.
OpenFOAM is kept reliable and robust by timely resolution of issues reported by users to the OpenFOAM Issue Tracking System. Everyone who reports an issue, where the behaviour of OpenFOAM does not meet reasonable expectations, is making a useful contribution.
OpenFOAM is scientific software that includes 1 million lines of code and supporting infrastructure, including 4 websites. It is an established product which must evolve in response to changes in user expectation and environment. Evolution involves redesign, which requires a team of specialist software engineers (just as the design of the next generation of a model of car needs its team of engineers).
CFD Direct employs software engineers, led by Henry Weller, that maintain OpenFOAM. Companies fund new functionality in OpenFOAM through contracted development and support with CFD Direct. Maintenance — the essential redesign work — has been largely unfunded over many years, which the Foundation is beginning to redress through a campaign for maintenance funding from organisations who recognise their commercial dependence on OpenFOAM.
The OpenFOAM Foundation is run by individuals whose priority is to make CFD accessible and inclusive. It ensures that OpenFOAM will always be free and open source (only) and maintains OpenFOAM beyond the control of any large organisation who might put commerical interest ahead of the interests of the users. It ensures that OpenFOAM is developed and maintained to meet broad needs of all users, rather than to limited needs of one or two large corporations.
The OpenFOAM Foundation takes responsibility for enforcing the licence of OpenFOAM, to protect the rights of contributors who make a conscious decision to release their work free and open source. Users should welcome and encourage licence enforcement, because without it, the contributors — who are the lifeblood of OpenFOAM — would inevitably withdraw their support.
OpenFOAM is packaged for simple installation on Ubuntu Linux, which can be directly installed on Windows 10 and is available as a Docker image for other Linux and macOS
OpenFOAM is developed by contributors led by Henry Weller, creator of OpenFOAM and Director of CFD Direct & The OpenFOAM Foundation
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