Simon Willison’s Weblog


191 items tagged “opensource”


RedPajama, a project to create leading open-source models, starts by reproducing LLaMA training dataset of over 1.2 trillion tokens. With the amount of projects that have used LLaMA as a foundation model since its release two months ago—despite its non-commercial license—it’s clear that there is a strong desire for a fully openly licensed alternative.

RedPajama is a collaboration between Together,, ETH DS3Lab, Stanford CRFM, Hazy Research, and MILA Québec AI Institute aiming to build exactly that.

Step one is gathering the training data: the LLaMA paper described a 1.2 trillion token training set gathered from sources that included Wikipedia, Common Crawl, GitHub, arXiv, Stack Exchange and more.

RedPajama-Data-1T is an attempt at recreating that training set. It’s now available to download, as 2,084 separate multi-GB jsonl files—2.67TB total.

Even without a trained model, this is a hugely influential contribution to the world of open source LLMs. Any team looking to build their own LLaMA from scratch can now jump straight to the next stage, training the model. # 17th April 2023, 5:13 pm

GitHub Accelerator: our first cohort. I’m participating in the first cohort of GitHub’s new open source accelerator program, with Datasette (and related projects). It’s a 10 week program with 20 projects working together “with an end goal of building durable streams of funding for their work”. # 13th April 2023, 5:28 pm

Free Dolly: Introducing the World’s First Truly Open Instruction-Tuned LLM (via) Databricks released a large language model called Dolly a few weeks ago. They just released Dolly 2.0 and it is MUCH more interesting—it’s an instruction tuned 12B parameter upgrade of EleutherAI’s Pythia model. Unlike other recent instruction tuned models Databricks didn’t use a training set derived from GPT-3—instead, they recruited 5,000 employees to help put together 15,000 human-generated request/response pairs, which they have released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. The model itself is a 24GB download from Hugging Face—I’ve run it slowly on a small GPU-enabled Paperspace instance, but hopefully optimized ways to run it will emerge in short order. # 13th April 2023, 2:19 am

Thoughts on AI safety in this era of increasingly powerful open source LLMs

This morning, VentureBeat published a story by Sharon Goldman: With a wave of new LLMs, open source AI is having a moment — and a red-hot debate. It covers the explosion in activity around openly available Large Language Models such as LLaMA—a trend I’ve been tracking in my own series LLMs on personal devices—and talks about their implications with respect to AI safety.

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Working in public

I participated in a panel discussion this week for path to Citus Con, a series of Discord audio events that are happening in the run up to the Citus Con 2023 later this month.

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gpt4all. Similar to Alpaca, here’s a project which takes the LLaMA base model and fine-tunes it on instruction examples generated by GPT-3—in this case, it’s 800,000 examples generated using the ChatGPT GPT 3.5 turbo model (Alpaca used 52,000 generated by regular GPT-3). This is currently the easiest way to get a LLaMA derived chatbot running on your own computer: the repo includes compiled binaries for running on M1/M2, Intel Mac, Windows and Linux and provides a link to download the 3.9GB 4-bit quantized model. # 29th March 2023, 6:03 pm

Cerebras-GPT: A Family of Open, Compute-efficient, Large Language Models (via) The latest example of an open source large language model you can run your own hardware. This one is particularly interesting because the entire thing is under the Apache 2 license. Cerebras are an AI hardware company offering a product with 850,000 cores—this release was trained on their hardware, presumably to demonstrate its capabilities. The model comes in seven sizes from 111 million to 13 billion parameters, and the smaller sizes can be tried directly on Hugging Face. # 28th March 2023, 10:05 pm

bloomz.cpp (via) Nouamane Tazi Adapted the llama.cpp project to run against the BLOOM family of language models, which were released in July 2022 and trained in France on 45 natural languages and 12 programming languages using the Jean Zay Public Supercomputer, provided by the French government and powered using mostly nuclear energy.

It’s under the RAIL license which allows (limited) commercial use, unlike LLaMA.

Nouamane reports getting 16 tokens/second from BLOOMZ-7B1 running on an M1 Pro laptop. # 16th March 2023, 12:24 am

Stanford Alpaca, and the acceleration of on-device large language model development

On Saturday 11th March I wrote about how Large language models are having their Stable Diffusion moment. Today is Monday. Let’s look at what’s happened in the past three days.

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Many people, and even a few companies, have contributed code to SQLite over the years. I have legal documentation for all such contributions in the firesafe in my office. We are able to track every byte of the SQLite source code back to its original creator. The project has been and continues to be open to outside contributions, as long as those contributions meet high standards of provenance and maintainability.

D. Richard Hipp # 8th February 2023, 6:07 pm

I’m Now a Full-Time Professional Open Source Maintainer. Filippo Valsorda, previously a member of the Go team at Google, is now independent and making a full-time living as a maintainer of various open source projects relating to Go. He’s managing to pull in an amount “equivalent to my Google total compensation package”, which is a huge achievement: the greatest cost involved in independent open source is usually the opportunity cost of turning down a big tech salary. He’s doing this through a high touch retainer model, where six client companies pay him to keep working on his projects and also provide them with varying amounts of expert consulting. # 3rd February 2023, 1:12 am

Igalia: the Open Source Powerhouse You’ve Never Heard of (via) An in-depth article about Igalia from July 2022. I had no idea how much stuff they had worked on: arrow functions, generators, async/await, MathML, CSS Grid and a whole bunch more. # 16th January 2023, 8:28 pm


libsql (via) A brand new Apache 2 licensed fork of SQLite. The README explains the rationale behind the project: SQLite itself is open source but not open contribution, and this fork aims to try out new ideas. The most interesting to me so far is a plan to support user defined functions implemented in WebAssembly. The project also intends to use Rust for new feature development. # 4th October 2022, 4:13 pm

datasette on Open Source Insights (via) Open Source Insights is “an experimental service developed and hosted by Google to help developers better understand the structure, security, and construction of open source software packages”. It calculates scores for packages using various automated heuristics. A JSON version of the resulting score card can be accessed using{package_name}/v/ # 11th August 2022, 1:06 am

Microsoft® Open Source Software (OSS) Secure Supply Chain (SSC) Framework Simplified Requirements. This is really good: don’t get distracted by the acronyms, skip past the intro and head straight to the framework practices section, which talks about things like keeping copies of the packages you depend on, running scanners, tracking package updates and most importantly keeping an inventory of the open source packages you work so you can quickly respond to things like log4j.

I feel like I say this a lot these days, but if you had told teenage-me that Microsoft would be publishing genuinely useful non-FUD guides to open source supply chain security by 2022 I don’t think I would have believed you. # 6th August 2022, 4:49 pm

Contributing to Complex Projects (via) Mitchell Hashimoto describes in detail his process for understanding and eventually contributing to a complex new codebase. I picked up a whole bunch of useful tips from this. # 15th March 2022, 6:09 am

Support open source that you use by paying the maintainers to talk to your team

I think I’ve come up with a novel hack for the challenge of getting your company to financially support the open source projects that it uses: reach out to the maintainers and offer them generous speaking fees for remote talks to your engineering team.

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Writing better release notes

Release notes are an important part of the open source process. I’ve been thinking about these a lot recently, and I’ve assembled some thoughts on how to do a better job with them.

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The Asymmetry of Open Source (via) Caddy creator Matt Holt provides “a comprehensive guide to funding open source software projects”. This is really useful—it describes a whole range of funding models that have been demonstrated to work, including sponsorship, consulting, private support channels and more. # 24th December 2021, 9:11 pm

How to build, test and publish an open source Python library

At PyGotham this year I presented a ten minute workshop on how to package up a new open source Python library and publish it to the Python Package Index. Here is the video and accompanying notes, which should make sense even without watching the talk.

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cinder: Instagram’s performance oriented fork of CPython (via) Instagram forked CPython to add some performance-oriented features they wanted, including a method-at-a-time JIT compiler and a mechanism for eagerly evaluating coroutines (avoiding the overhead of creating a coroutine if an awaited function returns a value without itself needing to await). They’re open sourcing the code to help start conversations about implementing some of these features in CPython itself. I particularly enjoyed the warning that accompanies the repo: this is not intended to be a supported release, and if you decide to run it in production you are on your own! # 4th May 2021, 10:13 pm

Observable Plot (via) This is huge: a brand new high-level JavaScript visualization library from Mike Bostock, the author of D3—partially inspired by Vega-Lite which I’ve used enthusiastically in the past. First impressions are that this is a big step forward for quickly building high-quality visualizations. It’s released under the ISC license which is “functionally equivalent to the BSD 2-Clause and MIT licenses”. # 4th May 2021, 4:28 pm

When building a tool, it’s easy to forget how much you’ve internalized: how much knowledge and context you’ve assumed. Your tool can feel familiar or even obvious to you while being utterly foreign to everyone else. If your goal is for other people to use the darn thing — meaning you’re not just building for yourself, or tinkering for its own sake (which are totally valid reasons) — you gotta help people use it! It doesn’t matter what’s possible or what you intended; all that matters is whether people actually succeed in practice.

Mike Bostock # 23rd February 2021, 10:55 pm

Open source projects: consider running office hours

Back in December I decided to try something new for my Datasette open source project: Datasette Office Hours. The idea is simple: anyone can book a 25 minute conversation with me on a Friday to talk about the project. I’m interested in talking to people who are using Datasette, or who are considering using it, or who just want to have a chat.

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Datasette: A Developer, a Shower and a Data-Inspired Moment (via) Matt Asay interviewed me over Zoom last month. This captures a lot of my thinking around open source really well: “Datasette is aggressively open source for a bunch of reasons. Most of them are very selfish reasons.” # 18th June 2020, 11:32 pm

New governance model for the Django project. This has been under discussion for a long time: I’m really excited to see it put into action. It’s difficult to summarize, but they key effect should be a much more vibrant, active set of people involved in making decisions about the framework. # 12th March 2020, 5:27 pm


Weeknotes: PG&E outages, and Open Source works!

My big focus this week was the PG&E outages project. I’m really pleased with how this turned out: the San Francisco Chronicle used data from it for their excellent PG&E outage interactive (mixing in data on wind conditions) and it earned a bunch of interest on Twitter and some discussion on Hacker News.

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My JSK Fellowship: Building an open source ecosystem of tools for data journalism

I started a new chapter of my career last week: I began a year long fellowship with the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships program at Stanford.

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Monaco Editor. VS Code is MIT licensed and built on top of Electron. I thought “huh, I wonder if I could run the editor component embedded in a web app”—and it turns out Microsoft have already extracted out the code editor component into an open source JavaScript package called Monaco. Looks very slick, though sadly it’s not supported in mobile browsers. # 21st May 2019, 8:47 pm

Datasette 0.28—and why master should always be releasable

It’s been quite a while since the last substantial release of Datasette. Datasette 0.27 came out all the way back in January.

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