FOSS Week in Review
We’re just barely past the relatively quiet news days that are the holiday season and already the news is getting to be quite contentious. So much so that I’ve been tempted to call this edition of the Week in Review “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” but I’m afraid that might turn into some kind of trademark dispute. I am reminded by our opening story, however, of the old Pogo quip from the funny pages: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Linux Foundation adopts plantation model: The biggest FOSS story this week came on Wednesday when free software activist and Linux kernel developer Matthew Garrett made public that on last Friday the Linux Foundation had dropped community representation from its board.
The Linux Foundation’s board has always been weighted heavily in favor of corporations and money, with a large majority of the foundation’s board being elected by member corporations. The nine platinum members, who each pay $500,000 yearly in membership dues, elect up to ten board members (or one each for up to ten directors), the sixteen gold members elect three, and the more than 250 silver members elect only one. Until last week, individual members, who pay $99 in annual dues, elected two members to the board, not enough to influence foundation policy in a vote, but enough to give the community some say in the decision making process.
Not any longer.
“The by-laws were amended to drop the clause that permitted individual members to elect any directors,” Garrett wrote in his blog. “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.”
So what happened to spark this move by the big money guys behind the foundation? Garrett offered an answer: “These changes all happened shortly after Karen Sandler announced that she planned to stand for the Linux Foundation board during a presentation last September,” he wrote. “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….”
The problem with Sandler, as the corporate bigwigs see it, is that she is the executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that’s highly focused on enforcement of the GPL, and which is currently funding a lawsuit against Linux Foundation member VMware in a GPL noncompliance case.
“The timing may be coincidental,” Garrett continued, “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 favor of GPL enforcement ending up on their board.”
Today, Linux Foundation president Jim Zemlin addressed the issue in a blog post on the foundation’s website. He was tardy weighing in, he said, because he “had been engaged in meetings on behalf of The Linux Foundation in China, with limited access to email and/or Internet.” Upon his return to the wired world, he was shocked to discover the brouhaha that’s developed “in social media.”
“The Linux Foundation Board structure has not changed,” he wrote.
“[T}he 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.” His post fails to point out that at-large directors serve one-year terms, meaning they’ll be gone soon enough.
Welcome to the Brave new browser: On Wednesday we learned from The Register of a new browser called Brave, currently in beta, which takes a novel new approach to protecting users’ browsing history. While most browsers depend on implementation of “do not track,” which Google and Facebook reportedly ignore, Brave is taking another rout, by not giving tracking code your info period — sort of.
Although it’s being touted as an ad-blocking browser, that isn’t quite true, as the developers are quite aware of the fact that many sites, especially news sites, depend on advertising revenue to keep the bills paid. Instead, the browser will act as something of a gateway, watching browsing history, then fitting the user into a standardized advertising segment which it will provide to websites and advertisers, a service that the developers say will be paid for by advertisers. We’ll see.
Another day, another distro: The fourth update for Manjaro 15.12 (Capella) became available on Monday. According to the distro’s website, this update renews the manjaro-desktop-settings packages, and adds KDE Framework 5.18, KDE Apps 15.12.1, and some newer Deepin 12.15 packages to the distro’s repositories. … Speaking of Deepin, LinuxInsider reported on Monday that the OS has changed names and is now going by “Depth OS.” According to the article, this has led to some confusion: “It has had several names, including ‘Hiweed GNU/Linux,’ ‘Linux Deepin,’ ‘Deepin’ and now ‘Depth OS.'” Keep throwing names against the wall and eventually something will stick. … While we’re on the subject of name changes: We learned from Softpedia today that Chromixium, a Ubuntu based distribution designed to have the look and feel of Chrome OS, has also gone through a name change and is now Cub Linux. The change was brought about after Google objected to the old name and “asked” the project to find a new one.
Quick takes: As of Wednesday morning, Valve has hit a new milestone in its efforts to bring gaming to Linux, with there now being 1,800 Linux games available through Steam…. There’s a new head honcho at MariaDB, with Michael Howard, once the lead on the the data warehousing development crew at Oracle, taking the reins as CEO. The project also now has funding of $40 million.
One more thing: The FOSS Force 2016 fund drive has been stalled at $1,075, or 29 percent of our $3,700 goal, for a couple of days now. We really need to meet our goal if we are to continue. Ten bucks will buy you two cups of coffee at Starbucks that’ll be gone in an hour, if you’re a slow drinker. Can’t you contribute at least that much to help FOSS Force survive and grow? Please support us with your contribution.
Well, that does it for today. Until next time, may the FOSS be with you…