[personal profile] mjg59
The Linux Foundation is an industry organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and standardising Linux and open source software[1]. The majority of its board is chosen by the member companies - 10 by platinum members (platinum membership costs $500,000 a year), 3 by gold members (gold membership costs $100,000 a year) and 1 by silver members (silver membership costs between $5,000 and $20,000 a year, depending on company size). Up until recently individual members ($99 a year) could also elect two board members, allowing for community perspectives to be represented at the board level.

As of last Friday, this is no longer true. The by-laws were amended to drop the clause that permitted individual members to elect any directors. Section 3.3(a) now says that no affiliate members may be involved in the election of directors, and section 5.3(d) still permits at-large directors but does not require them[2]. The old version of the bylaws are here - the only non-whitespace differences are in sections 3.3(a) and 5.3(d).

These changes all happened shortly after Karen Sandler announced that she planned to stand for the Linux Foundation board during a presentation last September. A short time later, the "Individual membership" program was quietly renamed to the "Individual supporter" program and the promised benefit of being allowed to stand for and participate in board elections was dropped (compare the old page to the new one). Karen is the executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, an organisation involved in the vitally important work of GPL enforcement. The Linux Foundation has historically been less than enthusiastic about GPL enforcement, and the SFC is funding a lawsuit against one of the Foundation's members for violating the terms of the GPL. The timing may be coincidental, but it certainly looks like the Linux Foundation was willing to throw out any semblance of community representation just to ensure that there was no risk of someone in favour of GPL enforcement ending up on their board.

Much of the code in Linux is written by employees paid to do this work, but significant parts of both Linux and the huge range of software that it depends on are written by community members who now have no representation in the Linux Foundation. Ignoring them makes it look like the Linux Foundation is interested only in promoting, protecting and standardising Linux and open source software if doing so benefits their corporate membership rather than the community as a whole. This isn't a positive step.

[1] Article II of the bylaws
[2] Other than in the case of the TAB representative, an individual chosen by a board elected via in-person voting at a conference

Date: 2016-01-21 09:31 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I have nothing but questions over this.

  • Are you suggesting the Linux Foundation doesn't want Sandler on their board, because of some circumstantial lawsuit over licensing violations?

  • If the above is true, are you saying the Foundation is changing their bylaws to prevent a singular person from potentially entering the board?

  • Are you suggesting this person is a threat to the Foundation somehow?

  • Are you saying the Linux Foundation has no board members in favour of GPL enforcement? If so, would one or even two community-elected board members have significant power over the Foundation's roadmap and actions? I can see no significant action in the bylaws that requires anything less than a majority.

  • Are you writing about the same Karen Sandler who eliminated the cash reserves of the GNOME foundation?

  • What are you really writing this for?

    Date: 2016-01-21 10:01 am (UTC)
    From: (Anonymous)
    http://jeff.ecchi.ca/blog/2015/09/13/outrageous-outreach/ suggests that calling her "the same Karen Sandler who eliminated the cash reserves of the GNOME foundation" is not a very good description.

    Date: 2016-01-21 02:10 pm (UTC)
    From: (Anonymous)
    Jeff and I have agreed to disagree on this topic. Maybe as Jeff claims the foundation's cash reserves weren't actively squandered by Ms./Mrs. Sandler, her choice on the matter (sponsoring orgs paying the GNOME foundation instead directly for the associated activities) indirectly led to this outcome. I'm not suggesting Karen Sandler acted with malice, I'm saying she did not make smart decisions.

    Date: 2016-01-21 10:25 pm (UTC)
    From: (Anonymous)
    I knew nothing of this person one way or another, so I just went and read that article and the argument thread beneath it. From that it seems clear that, frankly, Jeff is right and you are not just wrong, but "not even wrong".
    That is,
    1. GNOME's cash reserves were not, in fact, squandered at all (rather, they had a cash flow problem due to late payments, which were eventually collected) and
    2. Had they been, her position was not in any way in charge of the relevant issues, so she did not act or make decisions about the matter, whether smart, with malice, or otherwise, and nor should she have.

    This whole criticism looks like it was made up as an excuse to rag on women in tech. You should not fall for such things.

    re: in favour of GPL

    Date: 2016-01-23 03:14 pm (UTC)
    From: (Anonymous)
    "I know that the LF have given no public indication that they're in favour of GPL enforcement, and private indications that they're not."

    At LinuxCon 2015 Europe, there was a big push to encourage everyone to support GPL, and not to use BSD, and even more so at the coorps, to say don't create new licences.

    I Belive they have worked with github in order to push GPL also.

    don't know why you think they want to abandon GPL when they are encouraging GPL use.


    Matthew Garrett

    About Matthew

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

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