March 29, 2017

Open Source State of the Union

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Jim Zemlin
As the open source community continues to grow, Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation, says the Foundation’s goal remains the same: to create a sustainable ecosystem for open source technology through good governance and innovation.

The Linux Foundation is on track to break the 1,000 participating organizations mark some time in 2017 and has set its sights on bringing more new and diverse voices into open source technology through training and outreach efforts. Even as the open source community continues to grow, Executive Director Jim Zemlin said at the Open Source Leadership Summit in February that the Foundation’s goal remains the same: to create a sustainable ecosystem for open source technology through good governance and innovation.

“We think that the job of the Foundation,” Zemlin said, “is to create that sustainable ecosystem. It's to work with projects that solve a meaningful problem in society, in the market, to create really good communities.”

According to Zemlin, The Linux Foundation has trained more than 800,000 students, many of them at no cost. Training is crucial, he said, so the barrier both to contribute to open source and to use open source projects in more settings is lowered a little every day.

“We are trying to make sure that the projects that we work with have a set of practitioners and developers that can further increase the adoption of that particular code,” he said.

Zemlin is also thrilled that companies not traditionally known for their open source contributions are becoming excited about the opportunities The Linux Foundation and the open source code can provide.

“The thing I'm most proud about that is the fact that companies are coming in now from wholesale new sectors that hadn't done a lot of open source work in the past,” Zemlin said. “Telecom, automotive, etc., are really learning how to do shared software development, understanding the intellectual property regimes that open source represents, and just greasing the skids for broader flow of code, which is incredibly important if your mission is to create a greater shared technology resource in the world.”

Zemlin was particularly excited about Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a middleware project that was represented at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. “This is such a sleeper project at The Linux Foundation that's going to have a huge impact just as more and more production vehicles roll out with the AGL code in it,” Zemlin said. “It's at CES this year. Daimler announced that they're joining our Automotive Grade Linux initiative so now we have Toyota, Daimler, and a dozen of the world's biggest automotive OEMs all working together to create the future automotive middleware and informatics systems that will really define what an automotive cockpit experience looks like.”

The goal for that project, and all the various projects that the different open source foundations are shepherding in 2017, is to create value for both the contributors and the organizations investing their time and money.

“The best projects, the projects that are meaningful and that you can count on for decades to come, are those who have a good developer community solving a really big problem where that code is used to create real value,” Zemlin said. “Value in the form of profit for companies.”

For that value to be created, foundations such as The Linux Foundation must continue their hard work by supporting the developers and other professionals leading their passion projects.

“Ecosystems take real work,” Zemlin said. “This is what foundations do… We create a governance structure where you can pull intellectual property for long-term safe harbor.”

You can watch the complete presentation below:

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