Not surprising

Date: 2016-01-25 02:50 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
The fact that the LF caters to their corporate donors isn't at all surprising for those of us who have known the LF since its inception.

I used to be employed by the LF. I actually came over during the merger between the ODSL and FSG, so I was there at the very beginning. The entire tone, internally, of the LF was centered around pleasing our corporate overlords from the very start. Those of us who didn't fall in line with that sentiment, didn't last long at the new organization.

Let me share the story about how I butted up against this new corporate-driven focus early on in the LF's lifetime. I was tasked to try and salvage a project to provide a unified, cross-platform, installation tool. Something that would allow third parties write a single installer that would, in turn, be able to register itself with whatever underlying package management system in use (though, our focus was deb and rpm at the time). It was a good goal, and something both corporations and community alike would have been able to get behind if done right. I even came up with a lovely little proof of concept to demonstrate how we hoped to accomplish this. My work was well received by the package management communities at the time.

Unfortunately, one of our major donors (either a platinum or gold, it's been too long, and I, frankly, can't remember which) didn't like it. What this company really wanted was essentially a back-door into RPM (they only cared about RPM-based systems). They wanted to allow non-privileged users (e.g., not admins) to install their software on systems. They developed a major *nix desktop application (used primarily by researchers and scientists) and their primary friction-point for their customers was that they'd buy the application suite and then have to have some admin/IT guy actually install it for them because they lacked root access to their systems. They wanted a way to bypass this. They wanted to be able to write an installer that normal, non-root users, could use to install their software system-wide.

I knew such a patch would NEVER be accepted by upstream distributions and package manager developers, and their requests were shot down constantly by the other community members on the mailing-list where we were discussing this, so I chose to ignore them and, basically, let others in the community "talk sense" into them (I remember a Google employee being very vocal about how bad this idea was, and I pretty much let him act as the big detractor to such a backdoor in RPM).

They were livid that the LF employee (me) wasn't backing them up in the mailing list traffic. They felt that the money they were paying to the LF meant that the LF would basically be a "lobbying firm" for them to the Open Source community: That whatever crazy thing they (or other platinum/gold members wanted) should be promoted by the LF and it was the LF's responsibility to convince the Open Source community to accept edicts from these corporate sponsors. They complained to higher ups (very higher ups) at the LF, and I lost my job.

I wasn't the first that this happened to at the LF, and I wouldn't be the last.

So, yeah, as early as 2008-2010 companies were using the LF as a glorified "lobbying firm", and this obviously hasn't changed.

Now, of course, there are LF employees who are immune to these sorts of things. For example, I can't imagine this sort of stuff flying with the various kernel developers they employ. But for the myriad of ancillary projects they have employees working on, I'm certain they have felt the corporate influence at some point during their time at the LF.
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Matthew Garrett

About Matthew

Power management, mobile and firmware developer on Linux. Security developer at Google. Member of the Free Software Foundation board of directors. Ex-biologist. @mjg59 on Twitter. Content here should not be interpreted as the opinion of my employer.

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