A New Year’s Message from Nithya Ruff (2022)


The last two years have demonstrated even more clearly that technology is the crucial fabric that weaves society and the economy together. From video conferencing to online shopping and delivery to remote collaboration tools for work, technology helped society continue to function throughout the pandemic in 2020 and the continuing uncertainty of 2021. All that technology (and more) is powered, quite literally, by open source, in one way or another. Software is eating the world and open source software is becoming the dominant part of software, from the operating system to the database and messaging layer up to the frameworks that drive the user experience. Few, if any, organizations and enterprises could run operations today without relying on open source.

Not surprisingly, as it becomes more pervasive and mission-critical, open source is also proving to be a larger economic force. Public and private companies focused on selling open source software or services now have a collective market value approaching half a trillion dollars. There is no easy way to account for the total economic value of open source consumed by all businesses, individuals, nonprofits, and governments; the value enabled is likely well into the trillions of dollars. Open source powers cloud computing, the Internet, Android phones, mobile apps, cars — even the Mars helicopter launched by NASA. Open source also powers much of consumer electronics on the market today. 

With prominent positions in society and the economy comes an urgent imperative to better address risk and security. The Linux Foundation is working with its members to take on these challenges for open source. We launched multiple new initiatives in 2021 to make the open source technology ecosystem and software supply chain more secure, transparent, and resilient. From the Software Bill of Materials to the Open Source Security Foundation, the LF, its members, and its projects and communities are collaborating with paramount importance to secure the open source supply chain.

Behind risk management and security considerations — and technology development in general — are real people. This is also why the Linux Foundation is making substantial investments in supporting diversity and inclusion in open source communities. We need to take action as a community to make open source more inclusive and welcoming. We can do this in a data-driven fashion with research on what issues hinder our progress and develop actions that will, we hope, drive measurable improvements. 

Working together on collective efforts, beyond just our company and ourselves, is not just good for business; it is personally rewarding. Recently one of our engineers explained that he loves working with open source because he feels it gives him a global network of teachers, all helping him become better. I believe this is why open source is one of the most powerful forces in the world today, and it is only growing stronger. Through a pandemic, through economic challenges, day in, day out, we see people helping each other regardless of their demographics. Open source brings out the best in people by encouraging them to work together to solve great challenges and dream big. This is why in 2021, I am excited to see all the new collaborations, expanding our collective efforts to address truly global problems in agriculture, public health, and other areas that are far bigger than any one project. 

After a successful 2021, and hopefully, with a pandemic fading into our rearview mirrors, I am optimistic for an even more amazing 2022. Thank you for your support and guidance, and I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Nithya Ruff
Chair of the Board of Directors, The Linux Foundation

These efforts are made possible by our members and communities. To learn how your organization can get involved with the Linux Foundationclick here.

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