Jason Perlow, Director of Project Insights and Editorial Content at the Linux Foundation, spoke with Hilary Carter about Linux Foundation Research and how it will create better awareness of the work being done by open source projects and their communities.

JP: It’s great to have you here today, and also, welcome to the Linux Foundation. First, can you tell me a bit about yourself, where do you live, what your interests are outside work?

HC: Thank you! I’m a Toronto native, but I now live in a little suburban town called Aurora, just north of the city. Mike Meyers — a fellow Canadian — chose “Aurora, IL” for his setting of Wayne’s World, but he really named the town after Aurora, ON. I also spend a lot of time about 3 hours north of Aurora in the Haliburton Highlands, a region noted for its beautiful landscape of rocks, trees, and lakes — and it’s here where my husband and I have a log cabin. We ski, hike and paddle, with our kids, depending on the season. It’s an interesting location because we’re just a few kilometers north of the 45th parallel — and at the spring and fall equinox, the sun sets precisely in the west right off of our dock. At the winter and summer solstice, it’s 45 degrees to the south and north, respectively. It’s neat. As much as I have always been a bit obsessed with geolocation, I had never realized we were smack in the middle of the northern hemisphere until our kids’ use of Snapchat location filters brought it to our attention. Thank you, mobile apps! 

JP: And what organization are you joining us from?

HC: My previous role was Managing Director at the Blockchain Research Institute, where I helped launch and administer their research program in 2017. Over nearly four years, we produced more than 100 research projects that explored how blockchain technology — as the so-called Internet of value — was transforming all facets of society — at the government and enterprise-level as well as at the peer-to-peer level. We also explored how blockchain converged with other technologies like IoT, AI, additive manufacturing and how these developments would change traditional business models. It’s a program that is as broad as it is deep into a particular subject matter without being overly technical, and it was an absolutely fascinating and rewarding experience to be part of building that.

JP: Tell me a bit more about your academic background; what disciplines do you feel most influence your research approach? 

HC: I was a Political Studies major as an undergrad, which set the stage for my ongoing interest in geopolitical issues and how they influence the economy and society. I loved studying global political systems, international political economy, and supranational organizations and looking at the frameworks built for global collaboration to enable international peace and security under the Bretton Woods system. That program made me feel incredibly fortunate to have been born into a time of relative peace and prosperity, unlike generations before me.

I did my graduate studies in Management at the London School of Economics (LSE), and it was here that I came to learn about the role of technology in business. The technologies we were studying at the time were those that enabled real-time inventory. Advanced manufacturing was “the” hot technology of the mid-1990s, or so it seemed in class. I find it so interesting that the curriculum at the time did not quite reflect the technology that would profoundly and most immediately shape our world, and of course, that was the Web. In fairness, the digital economy was emerging slowly, then. Tasks like loading web pages still took a lot of time, so in a way, it’s understandable that the full extent of the web’s power did not make it into many of my academic lectures and texts. I believe academia is different today — and I’m thrilled to see the LSE at the forefront of new technology research, including blockchain, AI, robotics, big data, preparing students for a digital world.

JP: I did do some stalking of your LinkedIn profile; I see that you also have quite a bit of journalistic experience as well.

HC: I wish I could have had more! I was humbled when my first piece was published in Canada’s national newspaper. I had no formal training or portfolio of past writing to lend credibility to my authorship. Still, fortunately, after much persistence, the editor gave me a shot, and I’m forever grateful to her for that. I was inspired to write opinion pieces on the value of digital tools because I saw a gap that needed filling — and I was really determined to fill it. And the subject that inspired me was leadership around new technologies. I try to be a good storyteller and create something that educates and inspires all in one go. I suppose I come by a bit of that naturally. My father was an award-winning author in Canada, but his day job was Chief of Surgery at a hospital in downtown Toronto. He had a gift to take complex subject matter about diseases, such as cancer, and humanize the content by making it personal. I think that’s what makes writing about complex concepts “sticky.” When you believe that the author is, at some level, personally committed to their work and successful in setting the context for their subject matter to the world at large and do so in a way that creates action or additional thinking, then they’ve done a successful job. 

JP: Let’s try a tough existential question. Why do you feel that the Linux Foundation now needs a dedicated research and publications division? Is it an organizational maturity issue? Has open source gotten so widespread and pervasive that we need better metrics to understand these projects’ overall impact?

HC: Well, let me start by saying that I’m delighted that the LF has prioritized research as a new business unit. In my past role at the Blockchain Research Institute, it was clear that there was and still is a huge demand for research — the program kept growing because technologies continued to evolve, and there was no shortage of issues to cover. So I think the LF is tapping into a deep need for knowledge in the market at large and specific insights on open source ecosystems, in particular, to create greater awareness of incredible open source projects and inspire greater participation in them. There are also threats that we as a society — as human beings — need to deal with urgently. So the timing couldn’t be better to broaden the understanding of what is happening in open source communities, new tools to share knowledge, and encourage greater collaboration levels in open source projects. If we accomplish one thing, it will be to illustrate the global context for open source software development and why getting involved in these activities can create positive global change on so many levels. We want more brains in the game.

JP: So let’s dive right into the research itself. You mentioned your blockchain background and your previous role — I take it that this will have some influence on upcoming surveys and analysis? What is coming down the pike on the front?

HC: Blockchain as a technology has undoubtedly influenced my thinking about systems architecture and how research is conducted — both technological frameworks and the human communities that organize around them. Decentralization. Coordination. Transparency. Immutability. Privacy. These are all issues that have been front and center for me these past many years. Part of what I have learned about what makes good blockchain systems work comes from the right combination of great dependability and security with leadership, governance, and high mass collaboration levels. I believe those values transfer over readily to the work of the Linux Foundation and its community. I’m very much looking forward to learning about the many technology ecosystems beyond blockchain currently under the LF umbrella. I’m excited to discover what I imagine will be a new suite of technologies that are not yet part of our consciousness.

JP: What other LF projects and initiatives do you feel need to have deeper dives in understanding their impact besides blockchain? Last year, we published a contributor survey with Harvard. It reached many interesting conclusions about overall motivations for participation and potential areas for remediation or improvement in various organizations. Where do we go further in understanding supply chain security issues — are you working with the Harvard team on any of those things?

HC: The FOSS Contributor Survey was amazing, and there are more good things to come through our collaboration with the Laboratory of Innovation Science at Harvard. Security is a high-priority research issue, and yes, ongoing contributions to this effort from that team will be critical. You can definitely expect a project that dives deep into security issues in software supply chains in the wake of SolarWinds.

I’ve had excellent preliminary discussions with some executive team members about their wish-lists for projects that could become part of the LF Research program in terms of other content. We’ll hope to be as inclusive as we can, based on what our capacity allows. We look forward to exploring topics along industry verticals and technology horizontals, as well as looking at issues that don’t fall neatly into this framework, such as strategies to increase diversity in open source communities, or the role of governance and leadership as a factor in successful adoption of open source projects.

Ultimately, LF Research will have an agenda shaped not only from feedback from within the LF community but by the LF Research Advisory Board, a committee of LF members and other stakeholders who will help shape the agenda and provide support and feedback throughout the program. Through this collaborative effort, I’m confident that LF Research will add new value to our ecosystem and serve as a valuable resource for anyone wanting to learn more about open source software and the communities building it and help them make decisions accordingly. I’m looking forward to our first publications, which we expect out by mid-summer. And I’m most excited to lean on, learn from, and work with such an incredible team as I have found within the LF. Let’s do this!!!

JP: Awesome, Hilary. It was great having you for this talk, and I look forward to the first publications you have in store for us.

Call For Code Logo

Over the past several decades farmers have been depending increasingly on groundwater to irrigate their crops due to climate change and reduced rainfall. Farmers, even in drought-prone areas, continue to need to grow water-intensive crops because these crops have a steady demand.

In 2019, as part of Call for Code, a team of IBMers came together and brainstormed on ideas they were passionate about – problems faced by farmers in developing countries due to more frequent drought conditions. The team designed an end-to-end solution that focuses on helping farmers gain insight into when to water their crops and help them optimize their water usage to grow healthy crops. This team, Liquid Prep, went on to win the IBM employee Call for Code Global Challenge. 

Liquid Prep provides a mobile application that can obtain soil moisture data from a portable soil moisture sensor, fetch weather information from The Weather Company, and access crop data through a service deployed on the IBM Cloud. Their solution brings all this data together, analyzes it, and computes watering guidance to help the farmer decide whether to water their crops right now or conserve it for a better time.

To validate the Liquid Prep prototype, in December 2019, one of the team members traveled to India and interviewed several farmers in the village Nuggehalli, which is near the town Hirisave in the Hassan district of Karnataka, India. The interviews taught the team that the farmers did not have detailed information on when they should water their specific crops and by how much, as they didn’t know the specific needs on a plant-by-plant basis. They also just let the water run freely if the water was available from a nearby source, like a river or stream, and some were entirely dependent on rainfall. The farmers expressed a great interest in the described Liquid Prep solution as it could empower them to make more informed decisions that could improve yields.

A prototype is born

After winning the challenge the Liquid Prep team took on the opportunity to convert the concept to a more complete prototype through an IBM Service Corps engagement. The team was expanded with dedicated IBM volunteers from across the company and they were assigned to optimize Liquid Prep from August through October 2020. During this time the team developed the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for the mobile solution.

The prototype consists of three primary components: 

  • A hardware sensor to measure soil moisture
  • A highly visual and easy-to-use mobile web application, and 
  • A back-end data service to power the app. 

It works like this: the mobile web application gets soil moisture data from the soil moisture sensor. The app requests environmental conditions from The Weather Company and crop data from the plant database via the backend service deployed on the IBM Cloud. The app analyzes and computes a watering schedule to help the farmer decide if they should water their crops now or at a later time. 

Partners

Liquid Prep has a developed a great working relationship with partners SmartCone Technologies, Inc., and Central New Mexico Community College. Students in the Deep Dive Coding Internet of Things (IoT) Bootcamp at CNM are designing, developing, and producing a robust IoT sensor and housing it in the shape of a stick that can be inserted into the soil and transfer the soil moisture data to the Liquid Prep mobile app via Bluetooth. The collaboration gives students important real-world experience before they enter the workforce.  

“SmartCone is honored to be part of this project.  This is a perfect example of technology teams working together to help make the world a better place, “ said Jason Lee, Founder & CEO, SmartCone Technologies Inc.

Additionally, Liquid Prep will work together with J&H Nixon Farms, who largely grow soybeans and corn crops on about 2800 acres of agricultural land in Ottawa, Canada. They have offered Liquid Prep the opportunity to pilot test the prototype on several plots of land that have different soil conditions, which in turn can expand the breadth of recommendation options to a larger number of potential users.

Now available as open source

Liquid Prep is now available as an open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation. The goal of the project is to help farmers globally farm their crops with the least amount of water by taking advantage of real-time information that can help improve sustainability and build resiliency to climate change.

Participation is welcomed from software developers, designers, testers, agronomists/agri experts/soil experts, IoT engineers, researchers, students, farmers, and others that can help improve the quality and value of the solution for small farmers around the world. Key areas the team are interested in developing include localizing the mobile app, considering soil properties for the improvement of the watering advice, updating project documentation, software and hardware testing, more in-depth research, and adding more crop data to the database.

Get involved in Liquid Prep now at Call For Code

Linux Foundation Support for Asian Communities

The Linux Foundation and its communities are deeply concerned about the rise in attacks against Asian Americans and condemn this violence. It is devastating to hear over and over again of the attacks and vitriol against Asian communities, which have increased substantially during the pandemic. 

We stand in support with all those that have experienced this hate, and to the families of those who have been killed as a result. Racism, intolerance and inequality have no place in the world, our country, the tech industry or in open source communities. 

We firmly believe that we are all at our best when we work together, treat each other with respect and equality and without hate or vitriol.

Linux Foundation Blog Post Abstract Graphic

Every month there seems to be a new software vulnerability showing up on social media, which causes open source program offices and security teams to start querying their inventories to see how FOSS components they use may impact their organizations. 

Frequently this information is not available in a consistent format within an organization for automatic querying and may result in a significant amount of email and manual effort. By exchanging software metadata in a standardized software bill of materials (SBOM) format between organizations, automation within an organization becomes simpler, accelerating the discovery process and uncovering risk so that mitigations can be considered quickly. 

In the last year, we’ve also seen standards like OpenChain (ISO/IEC 5320:2020) gain adoption in the supply chain. Customers have started asking for a bill of materials from their suppliers as part of negotiation and contract discussions to conform to the standard. OpenChain has a focus on ensuring that there is sufficient information for license compliance, and as a result, expects metadata for the distributed components as well. A software bill of materials can be used to support the systematic review and approval of each component’s license terms to clarify the obligations and restrictions as it applies to the distribution of the supplied software and reduces risk. 

Kate Stewart, VP, Dependable Embedded Systems, The Linux Foundation, will host a complimentary mentorship webinar entitled Generating Software Bill Of Materials on Thursday, March 25 at 7:30 am PST. This session will work through the minimum elements included in a software bill of materials and detail the reasoning behind why those elements are included. To register, please click here

There are many ways this software metadata can be shared. The common SBOM document format options (SPDX, SWID, and CycloneDX) will be reviewed so that the participants can better understand what is available for those just starting. 

This mentorship session will work through some simple examples and then guide where to find the next level of details and further references. 

At the end of this session, participants will be on a secure footing and a path towards the automated generation of SBOMs as part of their build and release processes in the future. 

In mid-February, the Linux Foundation announced it had signed a collaboration agreement with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), enabling US Government suppliers to collaborate on a common open source platform that will enable the adoption of 5G wireless and edge technologies by the government. Governments face similar issues to enterprise end-users — if all their suppliers deliver incompatible solutions, the integration burden escalates exponentially.  

The first collaboration, Open Programmable Secure 5G (OPS-5G), currently in the formative stages, will be used to create open source software and systems enabling end-to-end 5G and follow-on mobile networks. 

The road to open source influencing 5G: The First, Second, and Third Waves of Open Source

If we examine the history of open source, it is informative to observe it from the perspective of evolutionary waves. Many open-source projects began as single technical projects, with specific objectives, such as building an operating system kernel or an application. This isolated, single project approach can be viewed as the first wave of open source.

We can view the second wave of open source as creating platforms seeking to address a broad horizontal solution, such as a cloud or networking stack or a machine learning and data platform.

The third wave of open source collaboration goes beyond isolated projects and integrates them for a common platform for a specific industry vertical. Additionally, the third wave often focuses on reducing fragmentation — you commonly will see a conformance program or a specification or standard that anyone in the industry can cite in procurement contracts.

Industry conformance becomes important as specific solutions are taken to market and how cross-industry solutions are being built — especially now that we have technologies requiring cross-industry interaction, such as end-to-end 5G, the edge, or even cloud-native applications and environments that span any industry vertical. 

The third wave of open source also seeks to provide comprehensive end-to-end solutions for enterprises and verticals, large institutional organizations, and government agencies. In this case, the community of government suppliers will be building an open source 5G stack used in enterprise networking applications. The end-to-end open source integration and collaboration supported by commercial investment with innovative products, services, and solutions accelerate the technology adoption and transformation.

Why DARPA chose to partner with the Linux Foundation

DARPA at the US Department of Defense has tens of thousands of contractors supplying networking solutions for government facilities and remote locations. However, it doesn’t want dozens, hundreds, or thousands of unique and incompatible hardware and software solutions originating from its large contractor and supplier ecosystem. Instead, it desires a portable and open access standard to provide transparency to enable advanced software tools and systems to be applied to a common code base various groups in the government could build on. The goal is to have a common framework that decouples hardware and software requirements and enabling adoption by more groups within the government.

Naturally, as a large end-user, the government wants its suppliers to focus on delivering secure solutions. A common framework can ideally decrease the security complexity versus having disparate, fragmented systems. 

The Linux Foundation is also the home of nearly all the important open source projects in the 5G and networking space. Out of the $54B of the Linux Foundation community software projects that have been valued using the COCOMO2 model, the open source projects assisting with building a 5G stack are estimated to be worth about $25B in shared technology investment. The LF Networking projects have been valued at $7.4B just by themselves. 

The support programs at Linux Foundation provide the key foundations for a shared community innovations pool. These programs include IP structure and legal frameworks, an open and transparent development process, neutral governance, conformance, and DevOps infrastructure for end-to-end project lifecycle and code management. Therefore, it is uniquely suited to be the home for a community-driven effort to define an open source 5G end-to-end architecture, create and run the open source projects that embody that architecture, and support its integration for scaling-out and accelerating adoption.

The foundations of a complete open source 5G stack

The Linux Foundation worked in the telecommunications industry early on in its existence, starting with the Carrier Grade Linux initiatives to identify requirements and building features to enable the Linux kernel to address telco requirements. In 2013, The Linux Foundation’s open source networking platform started with bespoke projects such as OpenDaylight, the software-defined networking controller. OPNFV (now Anuket), the network function virtualization stack, was introduced in 2014-2015, followed by the first release of Tungsten Fabric, the automated software-defined networking stack. FD.io, the secure networking data plane, was announced in 2016, a sister project of the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) released into open source in 2010.


Linux Foundation & Other Open Source Component Projects for 5G

At the time, the telecom/network and wireless carrier industry sought to commoditize and accelerate innovation across a specific piece of the stack as software-defined networking became part of their digital transformation. Since the introduction of these projects at LFN, the industry has seen heavy adoption and significant community contribution by the largest telecom carriers and service providers worldwide. This history is chronicled in detail in our whitepaper, Software-Defined Vertical Industries: Transformation Through Open Source.

The work that the member companies will focus on will require robust frameworks for ensuring changes to these projects are contributed back upstream into the source projects. Upstreaming, which is a key benefit to open source collaboration, allows the contributions specific to this 5G effort to roll back into their originating projects, thus improving the software for every end-user and effort that uses them.

The Linux Foundation networking stack continues to evolve and expand into additional projects due to an increased desire to innovate and commoditize across key technology areas through shared investments among its members. In February of 2021, Facebook contributed the Magma project, which transcends platform infrastructure such as the others listed above. Instead, it is a network function application that is core to 5G network operations. 

The E2E 5G Super Blueprint is being developed by the LFN Demo working group. This is an open collaboration and we encourage you to join us. Learn more here.

Building through organic growth and cross-pollination of the open source networking and cloud community

Tier 2 operators, rural operators, and governments worldwide want to reap the benefits of economic innovation as well as potential cost-savings from 5G. How is this accomplished?

With this joint announcement and its DARPA supplier community collaboration, the Linux Foundation’s existing projects can help serve the requirements of other large end-users. Open source communities are advancing and innovating some of the most important and exciting technologies of our time. It’s always interesting to have an opportunity to apply the results of these communities to new use cases. 

The Linux Foundation understands the critical dynamic of cross-pollination between community-driven open source projects needed to help make an ecosystem successful. Its proven governance model has demonstrated the ability to maintain and mature open source projects over time and make them all work together in one single, cohesive ecosystem. 

As a broad set of contributors work on components of an open source stack for 5G, there will be cross-community interactions. For example, that means that Project EVE, the cloud-native edge computing platform, will potentially be working with Project Zephyr, the scalable real-time operating system (RTOS) kernel, so that Eve can potentially orchestrate Zephyr devices. It’s all based on contributors’ self-interests and motivations to contribute functionality that enables these projects to work together. Similarly, ONAP, the network automation/orchestration platform, is tightly integrated with Akraino so that it has architectural deployment templates built around network edge clouds and multi-edge clouds. 

An open source platform has implications not just for new business opportunities for government suppliers but also for other institutions. The projects within an open source platform have open interfaces that can be integrated and used with other software so that other large end-users like the World Bank, can have validated and tested architectural blueprints, with which can go ahead and deploy effective 5G solutions in the marketplace in many host countries, providing them a turnkey stack. This will enable them to encourage providers through competition or challenges native to their in-country commercial ecosystem to implement those networks. 

This is a true solutions-oriented open source for 5G stack for enterprises, governments, and the world. 

Call For Code Logo

Today, the Linux Foundation announced that it would be adding Rend-o-matic to the list of Call for Code open source projects that it hosts. The Rend-o-matic technology was originally developed as part of the Choirless project during a Call for Code challenge as a way to enable musicians to jam together regardless of where they are. Initially developed to help musicians socially distance because of COVID 19, the application has many other benefits, including bringing together musicians from different parts of the world and allowing for multiple versions of a piece of music featuring various artist collaborations. The artificial intelligence powering Choirless ensures that the consolidated recording stays accurately synchronized even through long compositions, and this is just one of the pieces of software being released under the new Rend-o-matic project.

Developer Diaries – Uniting musicians with AI and IBM Cloud Functions

Created by a team of musically-inclined IBM developers, the Rend-o-matic project features a web-based interface that allows artists to record their individual segments via a laptop or phone. The individual segments are processed using acoustic analysis and AI to identify common patterns across multiple segments which are then automatically synced and output as a single track. Each musician can record on their own time in their own place with each new version of the song available as a fresh MP3 track. In order to scale the compute needed by the AI, the application uses IBM Cloud Functions in a serverless environment that can effortlessly scale up or down to meet demand without the need for additional infrastructure updates. Rend-o-matic is itself built upon open source technology, using Apache OpenWhisk, Apache CouchDB, Cloud Foundry, Docker, Python, Node.js, and FFmpeg. 

Since its creation, Choirless has been incubated and improved as a Call for Code project, with an enhanced algorithm, increased availability, real-time audio-level visualizations, and more. The solution has been released for testing, and as of January, users of the hosted Choirless service built upon the Rend-o-matic project – including school choirs, professional musicians, and bands – have recorded 2,740 individual parts forming 745 distinct performances.

Call for Code invites developers and problem-solvers around the world to build and contribute to sustainable, open source technology projects that address social and humanitarian issues while ensuring the top solutions are deployed to make a demonstrable difference.  Learn more about Call for Code. You can learn more about Rend-o-matic, sample the technology, and contribute back to the project at https://choirless.github.io/ 

Today the Linux Foundation announced that it would be hosting seven projects that originated at Call for Code for Racial Justice, an initiative driven by IBM and Creator David Clark Cause to urge the global developer ecosystem and open source community to contribute to solutions that can help confront racial inequalities. 

Launched by IBM in October 2020, Call for Code for Racial Justice facilitates the adoption and innovation of open source projects by developers, ecosystem partners, and communities across the world to promote racial justice across three distinct focus areas: Police & Judicial Reform and Accountability; Diverse Representation; and Policy & Legislation Reform. 

The initiative builds upon Call for Code, created by IBM in 2018 and has grown to over 400,000 developers and problem solvers in 179 countries, in partnership with Creator David Clark Cause, Founding Partner IBM, Charitable Partner United Nations Human Rights, and the Linux Foundation.

As part of today’s announcement, the Linux Foundation and IBM unveiled two new solution starters, Fair Change and TakeTwo: 

Fair Change is a platform to help record, catalog, and access evidence of potentially racially charged incidents to enable transparency, reeducation, and reform as a matter of public interest and safety. For example, real-world video footage related to routine traffic stops, stop and search, or other scenarios may be recorded and accessed by the involved parties and authorities to determine whether the incidents were handled in a biased manner. Fair Change consists of a mobile application for iOS and Android built using React Native, an API for capturing data from various sources built using Node JS. It also includes a website with a geospatial map view of incidents built using Google Maps and React. Data can be stored in a cloud-hosted database and object-store. Visit the tutorial or project page to learn more. 

TakeTwo aims to help mitigate digital content bias, whether overt or subtle, focusing on text across news articles, headlines, web pages, blogs, and even code. The solution is designed to leverage directories of inclusive terms compiled by trusted sources like the Inclusive Naming Initiative, which the Linux Foundation and CNCF co-founded. The terminology is categorized to train an AI model to enhance its accuracy over time. TakeTwo is built using open source technologies, including Python, FastAPI, and Docker. The API can be run locally with a CouchDB backend database or IBM Cloudant database. IBM has already deployed TakeTwo within its existing IBM Developer tools that are used to publish new content produced by hundreds of IBMers each week. IBM is trialing TakeTwo for IBM Developer website content. Visit the tutorial or project page to learn more.

In addition to the two new solution starters, The Linux Foundation will now host five existing and evolving open source projects from Call for Code for Racial Justice:

  • Five-Fifths Voter: This web app empowers minorities to exercise their right to vote and ensures their voice is heard by determining optimal voting strategies and limiting suppression issues.
  • Legit-Info: Local legislation can significantly impact areas as far-reaching as jobs, the environment, and safety. Legit-Info helps individuals understand the legislation that shapes their lives.
  • Incident Accuracy Reporting System: This platform allows witnesses and victims to corroborate evidence or provide additional information from multiple sources against an official police report.
  • Open Sentencing: To help public defenders better serve their clients and make a stronger case, Open Sentencing shows racial bias in data such as demographics.
  • Truth Loop: This app helps communities simply understand the policies, regulations, and legislation that will impact them the most.  

These projects were built using open source technologies that include Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, Blockchain ledger, Node.js, Vu.js, Docker, Kubernetes, and Tekton. The Linux Foundation and IBM ask developers and ecosystem partners to contribute to these solutions by testing, extending, implementing them, and adding their own diverse perspectives and expertise to make them even stronger. 

For more information and to begin contributing, please visit: 

https://developer.ibm.com/callforcode/racial-justice/get-started/

https://developer.ibm.com/callforcode/racial-justice/projects/  

https://www.linuxfoundation.org/projects/call-for-code/  

https://github.com/Call-for-Code-for-Racial-Justice/

Linux Foundation Logo

Today, the Linux Foundation announced that Renesas’ Hisao Munakata has been re-elected to its board, representing the Gold Member community. GitLab’s Eric Johnson has been elected to represent the Silver Member community. Linux Foundation elected board directors serve 2-year terms.

Directors elected to the Linux Foundation’s board are committed to building sustainable ecosystems around open collaboration to accelerate technology development and industry adoption. The Linux Foundation expands the open collaboration communities it supports with community efforts focused on building open standards, open hardware, and open data. It is dedicated to improving diversity in open source communities and working on processes, tools, and best security practices in open development communities. 

Hisao Munakata, Renesas (Gold Member)

Renesas is a global semiconductor manufacturer that provides cutting-edge SoC (system-on-chip) devices for the automotive, industry, and infrastructure. As open source support became essential for the company, Munakata-san encouraged Renesas developers to follow an “upstream-first” scheme to minimize gaps from the mainline community codebase. The industry has now accepted this as standard practice, following Renesas’ direction and pioneering work. 

Hisao Munakata

Munakata-san has served as an LF board director since 2019 and has reflected the voice from the embedded industry. 

Renesas, which joined the Linux Foundation in 2011, has ranked in the top twelve kernel development contributor firms in the past 14 years. Munakata-san serves pivotal roles in various LF projects such as the AGL (Automotive Grade Linux) Advisory Board, Yocto Project Advisory Board, Core Embedded Linux Project, and OpenSSF. In these roles, Munakata-san has supported many industry participants in these projects to achieve harmony. 

As cloud-native trends break barriers between enterprise and embedded systems, Munakata-san seeks to improve close collaboration across the industry and increase contribution from participants in the embedded systems space, focusing on safety in a post-COVID world.

Eric Johnson, GitLab (Silver Member)

Eric Johnson is the Chief Technology Officer at GitLab, Inc. — the first single application for the DevSecOps lifecycle. GitLab is a free, open core software used by more than 30 million registered users to collaborate, author, test, secure, and release software quickly and efficiently. 

Eric Johnson

At GitLab, Eric is responsible for the organization that integrates the work of over a hundred external open source contributors into GitLab’s codebase every month. During his tenure Eric has contributed to a 10x+ increase in annual recurring revenue and has scaled Engineering from 100 to more than 550 people while dramatically increasing team diversity in gender, ethnicity, and country-of-residence. He’s also helped turn GitLab, Inc. into one of the most productive engineering organizations in the world, as evidenced by their substantial monthly on-premise releases.

Eric is also a veteran of 4 previous enterprise technology startups in fields as varied as marketing technology, localization software, streaming video, and commercial drone hardware/software. He currently advises two startups in the medical trial software and recycling robotics industries. 

Eric brings his open source and Linux background to the Foundation. In his professional work, he has spent 17 years hands-on or managing teams that develop software that runs on Linux systems, administrating server clusters, orchestrating containers, open-sourcing privately built software, and contributing back to open source projects. Personally, he’s also administered a Linux home server for the past ten years.

As a Linux Foundation board member, Eric looks forward to using his execution-focused executive experience to turn ideas into results. Collaboration with the Linux Foundation has already begun with Distributed Developer ID and Digital Bill of Materials (DBoM). As a remote work expert with years of experience developing best practices, Eric will use his expertise to help the board, the Foundation, and its partners become more efficient in a remote, asynchronous, and geographically distributed way.

Click here to read the February 2021 Linux Foundation Newsletter

Throughout the modern business era, industries and commercial operations have shifted substantially to digital processes. Whether you look at EDI as a means to exchange invoices or cloud-based billing and payment solutions today, businesses have steadily been moving towards increasing digital operations. In the last few years, we’ve seen the promises of digital transformation come alive, particularly in industries that have shifted to software-defined models. The next step of this journey will involve enabling digital transactions through decentralized networks. 

A fundamental adoption issue will be figuring out who controls and decides how a decentralized network is governed. It may seem oxymoronic at first, but decentralized networks still need governance. A future may hold autonomously self-governing decentralized networks, but this model is not accepted in industries today. The governance challenge with a decentralized network technology lies in who and how participants in a network will establish and maintain policies, network operations, on/offboarding of participants, setting fees, configurations, and software changes and are among the issues that will have to be decided to achieve a successful network. No company wants to participate or take a dependency on a network that is controlled or run by a competitor, potential competitor, or any single stakeholder at all for that matter. 

Earlier this year, we presented a solution for Open Governance Networks that enable an industry or ecosystem to govern itself in an open, inclusive, neutral, and participatory model. You may be surprised to learn that it’s based on best practices in open governance we’ve developed over decades of facilitating the world’s most successful and competitive open source projects.

The Challenge

For the last few years, a running technology joke has been “describe your problem, and someone will tell you blockchain is the solution.” There have been many other concerns raised and confusion created, as overnight headlines hyped cryptocurrency schemes. Despite all this, behind the scenes, and all along, sophisticated companies understood a distributed ledger technology would be a powerful enabler for tackling complex challenges in an industry, or even a section of an industry. 

At the Linux Foundation, we focused on enabling those organizations to collaborate on open source enterprise blockchain technologies within our Hyperledger community. That community has driven collaboration on every aspect of enterprise blockchain technology, including identity, security, and transparency. Like other Linux Foundation projects, these enterprise blockchain communities are open, collaborative efforts. We have had many vertical industry participants engage, from retail, automotive, aerospace, banking, and others participate with real industry challenges they needed to solve. And in this subset of cases, enterprise blockchain is the answer.

The technology is ready. Enterprise blockchain has been through many proof-of-concept implementations, and we’ve already seen that many organizations have shifted to production deployments. A few notable examples are:

  • Trust Your Supplier Network 25 major corporate members from Anheuser-Busch InBev to UPS In production since September 2019. 
  • Foodtrust Launched Aug 2017 with ten members, now being used by all major retailers. 
  • Honeywell 50 vendors with storefronts in the new marketplace. In its first year, GoDirect Trade processed more than $5 million in online transactions.

However, just because we have the technology doesn’t mean we have the appropriate conditions to solve adoption challenges. A certain set of challenges about networks’ governance have become a “last mile” problem for industry adoption. While there are many examples of successful production deployments and multi-stakeholder engagements for commercial enterprise blockchains already, specific adoption scenarios have been halted over uncertainty, or mistrust, over who and how a blockchain network will be governed. 

To precisely state the issue, in many situations, company A does not want to be dependent on, or trust, company B to control a network. For specific solutions that require broad industry participation to succeed, you can name any industry, and there will be company A and company B. 

We think the solution to this challenge will be Open Governance Networks.

The Linux Foundation vision of the Open Governance Network

An Open Governance Network is a distributed ledger service, composed of nodes, operated under the policies and directions of an inclusive set of industry stakeholders. 

Open Governance Networks will set the policies and rules for participation in a decentralized ledger network that acts as an industry utility for transactions and data sharing among participants that have permissions on the network. The Open Governance Network model allows any organization to participate. Those organizations that want to be active in sharing the operational costs will benefit from having a representative say in the policies and rules for the network itself. The software underlying the Open Governance Network will be open source software, including the configurations and build tools so that anyone can validate whether a network node complies with the appropriate policies.

Many who have worked with the Linux Foundation will realize an open, neutral, and participatory governance model under a nonprofit structure that has already been thriving for decades in successful open source software communities. All we’re doing here is taking the same core principles of what makes open governance work for open source software, open standards, and open collaboration and applying those principles to managing a distributed ledger. This is a model that the Linux Foundation has used successfully in other communities, such as the Let’s Encrypt certificate authority.

Our ecosystem members trust the Linux Foundation to help solve this last mile problem using open governance under a neutral nonprofit entity. This is one solution to the concerns about neutrality and distributed control. In pan-industry use cases, it is generally not acceptable for one participant in the network to have power in any way that could be used as an advantage over someone else in the industry.  The control of a ledger is a valuable asset, and competitive organizations generally have concerns in allowing one entity to control this asset. If not hosted in a neutral environment for the community’s benefit, network control can become a leverage point over network users.  

We see this neutrality of control challenge as the primary reason why some privately held networks have struggled to gain widespread adoption. In order to encourage participation, industry leaders are looking for a neutral governance structure, and the Linux Foundation has proven the open governance models accomplish that exceptionally well.

This neutrality of control issue is very similar to the rationale for public utilities. Because the economic model mirrors a public utility, we debated calling these “industry utility networks.” In our conversations, we have learned industry participants are open to sharing the cost burden to stand up and maintain a utility. Still, they want a low-cost, not profit-maximizing model. That is why our nonprofit model makes the most sense.

It’s also not a public utility in that each network we foresee today would be restricted in participation to those who have a stake in the network, not any random person in the world. There’s a layer of human trust that our communities have been enabling on top of distributed networks, which started with the Trust over IP Foundation

Unlike public cryptocurrency networks where anyone can view the ledger or submit proposed transactions, industries have a natural need to limit access to legitimate parties in their industry. With minor adjustments to address the need for policies for transactions on the network, we believe a similar governance model applied to distributed ledger ecosystems can resolve concerns about the neutrality of control. 

Understanding LF Open Governance Networks

Open Governance Networks can be reduced to the following building block components:

  • Business Governance: Networks need a decision-making body to establish core policies (e.g., network policies), make funding and budget decisions, contracting with a network manager, and other business matters necessary for the network’s success. The Linux Foundation establishes a governing board to manage the business governance.
  • Technical Governance: Networks will require software. A technical open source community will openly maintain the software, specifications, or configuration decisions implemented by the network nodes. The Linux Foundation establishes a technical steering committee to oversee technical projects, configurations, working groups, etc.
  • Transaction Entity: Networks will require a transaction entity that will a) act as counterparty to agreements with parties transacting on the network, b) collect fees from participants, and c) execute contracts for operational support (e.g., hiring a network manager).

Of these building blocks, the Linux Foundation already offers its communities the Business and Technical Governance needed for Open Governance Networks. The final component is the new, LF Open Governance Networks. 

LF Open Governance Networks will enable our communities to establish their own Open Governance Network and have an entity to process agreements and collect transaction fees. This new entity is a Delaware nonprofit, a nonstock corporation that will maximize utility and not profit. Through agreements with the Linux Foundation, LF Governance Networks will be available to Open Governance Networks hosted at the Linux Foundation. 

If you’re interested in learning more about hosting an Open Governance Network at the Linux Foundation, please contact us at governancenetworks@linuxfoundation.org