Linux Foundation quietly scraps individual memberships

Now you can only be a 'supporter' with no voting rights

The Linux Foundation has quietly amended its bylaws so that individual members, now called "supporters", no longer have the right to elect board members.

The Linux Foundation is a non-profit association which sponsors those developing the Linux kernel, including Linus Torvalds, and runs various collaborative projects to set standards and support use of Linux.

It has more than 500 corporate members, including IBM, Intel, Oracle, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Google and Facebook.

Until recently, individuals could also join the association, paying $99 for a package which included a email address and the ability to run for and vote in elections for a Linux Foundation board seat.

This type of membership is no longer available. In its place is an Individual Supporter scheme that gets you an email address and various discounts, but no voting rights.

The manner of the change has lacked transparency. A member contacted The Register earlier this month wondering why his recurring payment had been cancelled. The online membership form was no longer accessible. We contacted the Linux Foundation for more information and received no response.

It turns out that the Foundation amended its bylaws, which are now dated January 15 2016. Individual members, officially known as affiliates, never had full voting rights. However, a clause in the old bylaws, now removed, stated that:

...this limitation on voting shall not prevent one or more Affiliate classes from recommending or appointing one or more At-Large Directors as provided in Section 5.3(d) hereof.

The referenced section stated:

For so long as the corporation has a class of Individual Affiliates, such class of Individual Affiliates will have the right to appoint two (2) At-Large Directors.

This section has also been removed.

Why the change? Free Software Foundation member Matthew Garrett speculates that the change was made specifically to block an individual from being elected. Whether or not this is the case, the change has the effect of putting the Foundation more firmly under the control of its corporate members, disappointing individuals who previously felt that they had some small say in how Linux is managed.

"In exchange, they gave me a lifetime free email address... Thanks? :-(" our reader wrote to us.

How things used to be - but this type of membership has now been scrapped

How things used to be – but this type of membership has now been scrapped

"Much of the code in Linux is written by employees paid to do this work, but significant parts of both Linux and the huge range of software that it depends on are written by community members who now have no representation in the Linux Foundation. Ignoring them makes it look like the Linux Foundation is interested only in 'promoting, protecting and standardising Linux and open source software' if doing so benefits their corporate membership rather than the community as a whole. This isn't a positive step," says Garrett in his post.

The Register has again contacted the Linux Foundation for comment and will update this story if we hear back from them.

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • Linux Foundation thinks it can get you interested in smartNICs
    Step one: Make them easier to program

    The Linux Foundation wants to make data processing units (DPUs) easier to deploy, with the launch of the Open Programmable Infrastructure (OPI) project this week.

    The program has already garnered support from several leading chipmakers, systems builders, and software vendors – Nvidia, Intel, Marvell, F5, Keysight, Dell Tech, and Red Hat to name a few – and promises to build an open ecosystem of common software frameworks that can run on any DPU or smartNIC.

    SmartNICs, DPUs, IPUs – whatever you prefer to call them – have been used in cloud and hyperscale datacenters for years now. The devices typically feature onboard networking in a PCIe card form factor and are designed to offload and accelerate I/O-intensive processes and virtualization functions that would otherwise consume valuable host CPU resources.

    Continue reading
  • Intel energizes decades-old real-time Linux kernel project
    Linutronix buy looks like a boon for those waiting on PREEMPT_RT

    Intel announced a move on Wednesday that will inject fresh energy into a Linux kernel project that started close to two decades ago – and was lacking funding and contributors.

    The microprocessor giant has made an under-the-radar acquisition of Linutronix, a German developer house that provides services for Linux-powered industrial systems. Intel didn't disclose the amount it paid for Linutronix, which is also an expert in real-time Linux applications. The acquisition comes as real-time industrial applications are set to make increasing use of low-latency communication between controllers, sensors, robots and tooling, and other equipment.

    Most interestingly, Linutronix is described by Intel as the architect of the PREEMPT_RT patch set, which when applied and enabled makes the Linux kernel as preemptible as possible. This in turn lowers internal latencies, which is very useful for those scheduling time-sensitive software threads to complete within a given deadline (using the deadline scheduler). This in turn is useful for ensuring, for example, incoming data is processed reliably within a tight time-frame.

    Continue reading
  • Linux Foundation spends 20% more in 2021, highlights new LFX platform
    New tool for security, insights, and fixing "gender and racially insensitive language rampant in code"

    The Linux Foundation (LF) will spend over $180m in 2021, 20 per cent up on last year, and highlights the role of its new LFX platform in its just-published annual report.

    A non-profit formed in 2000 to support the development of the Linux kernel as well as the wider Linux and open source ecosystem, the LF is the parent foundation of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), stewards of Kubernetes and other projects.

    In its annual report, the LF states that it will spend over $180M in 2021, up from $148M in 2020. Just 3.4 per cent of that is spent on Linux Kernel support. 56.3 per cent goes towards supporting other projects. Income is forecast to be $177M. In the last five years, the report says, membership has grown by 280 per cent, geographically divided into 48 per cent Americas, 31 per cent EMEAR (Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia), and 21 per cent APAC.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022