Sandstorm is on a mission

to make open source and indie web applications viable as an ecosystem

Open source web apps exist. If you look hard enough, you can find open source online document editors, RSS readers, and even a few social networks. But even among techies, hardly anyone seems to use these, probably because they all require running your own server, and few people have the time, patience, and expertise for that. And sometimes it’s hard to build a business case around a niche purpose.

Little apps written by random authors in their spare time are abundant on desktop and mobile. But on the web, it doesn’t seem to work this way. Any significant service with a server-side component can really only be run by a funded corporation. For open source software to make sense, the user has to be running their own instance. Software-as-a-Service and open source web apps just don’t make sense together: it’s not really open source if you can’t run modified code, and the high barrier to entry shuts out hobby projects or anything unwilling to be monetized.

The only solution is to make sure everyone has a server where they can install any software they want. They don’t necessarily have to administer that server – it could be run by a friend, or a service – but each user must be able to install arbitrary software. And that software must be securely sandboxed to prevent buggy or malicious software from harming the rest of the server.

Today, Sandstorm enables non-technical end users to install and run arbitrary software on servers they control. Apps may be downloaded from an app store and installed with one click, like installing apps on your phone. Each app runs in a secure sandbox, where it cannot interfere with other apps without permission.

But there's still much to be done. Find out how to get involved »

More about Sandstorm's mission »

Project History

Kenton Varda launched Sandstorm in 2014 via an Indiegogo campaign, before co-founding Sandstorm Development Group with Jade Wang to develop Sandstorm as both a Software-as-a-Service offering for consumers, known as Sandstorm Oasis, and an enterprise offering for businesses, known as Sandstorm for Work. SDG included Jason Paryani, David Renshaw, Asheesh Laroia, Nena Nguyen, and Drew Fisher. SDG operated from 2014 until 2017, significantly expanding both Sandstorm itself, its collection of applications and developer tools such as vagrant-spk, and developing Blackrock, a scalable version of Sandstorm to back Oasis. SDG was also advised by operating system and web security experts including Brian Swetland, Andrew Lutomirski, Jasvir Nagra, Mark Seaborn, and Mark S. Miller.

In early 2017, Sandstorm Development Group ran out of funding and the team primarily joined Cloudflare. Sandstorm development continued with a major rewrite of the HTTP proxy, a refactor of the account model, and the addition of localization support. However, the pace of development slowed, and the Oasis free plan was discontinued in 2018. Finally, Oasis shut down for paying customers at the end of 2019.

In 2020, a group of Sandstorm enthusiasts began a community effort to revive development of Sandstorm. Ian Denhardt did a significant amount of work improving the experience of authorizing network requests from Sandstorm apps, refactoring older code, and making the codebase more maintainable. In 2021, this community group participated in FundOSS and was able to pay a developer to modernize our Etherpad package. As of 2022, Sandstorm Development Group has been completely dissolved, and development of the Sandstorm project has transitioned to a community-run model.


From our crowdfunding campaign and OpenCollective

Special thanks to key corporate and individual sponsors:, HumanWeb, Uniregistry, Roger Wagner, Audrey Tang, and Open Source Collective.