Also included in this FOSS Week in Review: The Linux Foundation’s upcoming Technical Advisory Board election.
In my part of the woods, we’re in something of an Indian summer (Native American summer?), with daytime temps climbing past the 80 degree mark and lows in the 50s. I’m enjoying it for now, but that’s not supposed to last, however. Wintry temps are on the way, and Wednesday night we’re evidently going to see the mercury drop down into the 20s. Brrr.
Anyway, enough small talk. Let’s get on to this edition of FOSS Week in Review:
Is SiFive in Trouble, or What?
On the surface things look worrisome for SiFive. On Wednesday there started being reports — quickly confirmed by SiFive — that the company had laid off 20% of its workforce, putting more than 100 people out of work.
SiFive is a fabless semiconductor company that helps other companies develop and bring RISC-V-based chips to market. It’s important part of the RISC-V arena, partly because it was founded by three of the people who actually developed the open-source instruction set architecture to begin with.
RISC-V has become a big thing lately, and is quickly moving from being a promising alternative to proprietary processors from Intel, AMD, and Arm to becoming actual competition to the big boys. Indeed, Intel saw this coming and several years back jumped on the RISC-V bandwagon. It’s a member of RISC-V International, the foundation that supports the ISA; it’s released it’s own integrated developer environment for RISC-V; and it’s partnered with key RISC-V companies, including SiFive.
While laying off 100 workers isn’t a good sign (and definitely isn’t a good look), SiFive is saying not to worry, that everything is hunky-dory, and that this is just an adjustment.
“A lot of people are getting this wrong,” they told The Register.
With some reservations, I’m inclined to believe them.
The company is well funded. In March of 2022 the company raised $175 million in a Series F funding round that valued the company at over $2.5 billion (and brought total VC funding up to $365 million). Also last year, it won a $50 million contract to develop a processor for NASA’s High-Performance Spaceflight Computer, and its Intelligence X280 cores are being used in chips to run AI workloads in Google’s data centers.
There’s one thing that nags at me however.
If I were an investor, I think I would worry a bit about claims from analyst Ian Cutress that the layoffs include a majority of the engineering team (“especially the physical design engineers”), as well as sales and product staff.
“The management team have also been fired from what I’ve been told, leaving the founders and CEO Patrick Little at the helm,” he added. “That’s a heck of a shake up.”
AlmaLinux Is Ready for RHEL’s Next Release
The folks at AlmaLinux earlier this week rolled out AlmaLinux 9.3 Beta, “Shamrock Pampas Cat”, for all supported architectures, with the beta version of 8.9 expected to be available in the upcoming week. The ready-for-prime-time versions will follow Red Hat Enterprise Linux’s releases.
To quote a certain ex-VP of the US, the AlmaLinux team seems to be “pleased as punch” with the way things are going with the distro’s new approach to cloning/not cloning RHEL.
“This release (as well as 8.9) was built entirely without RHEL’s srpms, and it’s super exciting,” benny Vasques, the distro’s board chair told me in an email.
AlmaLinux powers FOSS Force, in case you’re interested.
Fedora Release Schedule: Push ‘em Back, Push ‘em Back, Way Back
Fedora 39 was originally scheduled to be released earlier this week, until a quartet of bugs caused a last minute change of plans that rescheduled the release for Halloween day. Yesterday, however, the Fedora team said that further last minute issues were causing them to push the release back yet another week, to November 7.
None of the issues are overly serious — except that all issues are serious when they effect you.
The set of bugs behind the initial delay affected Mutter (“Netinstall ISO renders a black screen when using Kickstart install), shim (“live image made with BOOTX64.EFI from the latest shim-x64-15.6-2 fails to boot on some boards”), and two issues centered on uboot-tools.
The most serious of the two bugs that were discovered later has to do with a media check that disappears if Fedora 39 is being installed on bare metal, which means users will have no way of knowing if their install medium is corrupted. The other bug, the presence of the initials “RC” in the names of some of F39’s installation ISO images, is non-technical but important, since users would rightly be confused about whether they were installing the stable version or a release candidate.
2023 Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board Call for Nominees
Want to be on the Linux Foundation’s Technical Advisory Board? Well, this might be your chance. Five of the ten TAB seats are up for grabs in an election that will be held electronically during the 2023 Linux Plumbers Conference that will be held in Richmond, Virginia from November 13-15. If you qualify to vote in the election, you also qualify to nominate yourself, and to qualify to vote you basically just need to be a contributor to the Linux kernel.
To be more precise, you must have at least three commits in a released mainline or stable kernel that have a commit date in 2022 or later and list your email in a “Signed-off-by,” “Tested-by,” “Reported-by,” “Reviewed-by,” or “Acked-by” tag.
“Everybody with at least 50 commits meeting this description will receive a ballot automatically; they will receive an email confirming this status shortly,” Dave Hansen, a kernal hacker and principal engineer at Intel explained in an email to the kernel.org list on Monday. “Eligible voters with less than 50 commits can receive a ballot by sending a request to email@example.com.”
So, what does Linux’s Technical Advisory Board do?
“The TAB exists to provide advice from the kernel community to the Linux Foundation; it also serves to facilitate interactions both within the community and with outside entities,” Hansen explained. “Over the last year, the TAB has overseen the organization of the Linux Plumbers Conference, released a kernel contribution maturity model for organizations, advised on code-of-conduct issues, and more.”
Elections are held every year for half of the board’s ten seats. Board members serve two-year terms.
Well, that does it for this week. Until next time, be nice to people and stay safe. Oh, and may the FOSS be with you…