January 22, 2016

Linux Foundation Update

Since last Saturday, I have been engaged in meetings on behalf of The Linux Foundation in China, with limited access to email and/or Internet. As a result, I have only recently become aware of a situation playing out over the last 24-48 hours in social media that demands an immediate response.  

First, The Linux Foundation Board structure has not changed. The same individuals remain as directors, and the same ratio of corporate to community directors continues as well. What we did do was to act on a long-discussed perception that the value we provide to individual supporters could be improved, for the first time in a decade.  And that the process for recruiting community directors should be changed to be in line with other leading organizations in our community and industry.  

As such, the Board voted to keep Larry Augustin and Bdale Garbee as individual At-Large Directors in recognition of their longstanding service to the community and individual commitment to helping advance The Linux Foundation. And the kernel developers continue to appoint a director as well. We welcome and value the continuing participation of Grant Likely in that capacity. Over time, the LF Board may also choose to add additional individuals from the growing communities we now serve.

We understand that governance issues are important, and that there will be differences of opinion when such changes occur. That is normal and healthy.  What is not healthy is the type of ‘flame wars’ that too often erupt in developer communities. Sadly, it appears that is now occurring, and that the conversation relating to an LF governance change has devolved into personal, inappropriate and offensive remarks directed against some members of our community, and in particular against Karen Sandler, the Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy.   

Karen has dedicated her career to promoting and defending free software. Since these comments and attacks are being made in the context of online discussions relating to The Linux Foundation, I feel compelled to state in no uncertain terms that the Foundation does not condone, and stands against the type of online behavior that has too often been allowed to go on unchecked.   

I encourage those of you from our community who participate in social media conversations to fight back against the personal, and often sexist, attacks that have been launched by a very small number of community members. Such behavior does nothing to advance legitimate discussion of important matters, and cast an unfair and unfavorable light on the vast majority of community members who treat each other with respect. The LF has never condoned, and will never condone, this type of behavior.   

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