10th annual jobs report facts

The tenth annual Open Source Jobs Report from the Linux Foundation and edX was released today, examining trends in open source hiring, retention, and training

SAN FRANCISCO – June 22, 2022The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, and edX, a leading global online learning platform from 2U, Inc. (Nasdaq: TWOU), have released the 10th Annual Open Source Jobs Report, examining the demand for open source talent and trends among open source professionals.

The need for open source talent is strong in light of continuing cloud adoption and digital transformation across industries. As the COVID pandemic wanes, both retention and recruitment have become more difficult than ever, with 73% of professionals reporting it would be easy to find a new role and 93% of employers struggling to find enough skilled talent. Although the majority of open source professionals (63%) reported their employment did not change in the past year, one-in-three did report they either left or changed jobs, which puts additional pressure on employers trying to hold onto staff with necessary skills. While this may not reach levels of a “Great Resignation”, this turnover is putting more pressure on companies.

“Every business has struggled with recruiting and retaining talent this past year, and the open source industry has been no different,” said Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin. “Organizations that want to ensure they have the talent to meet their business goals need to not only differentiate themselves to attract that talent, but also look at ways to close the skills gap by developing net new and existing talent. This report provides insights and actionable steps they can take to make that happen.”

“This year’s report found that certifications have become increasingly important as organizations continue to look for ways to close skills gaps. We see modular, stackable learning as the future of education and it’s promising to see employers continuing to recognize these alternative paths to gain the skills needed for today’s jobs,” said Anant Agarwal, edX Founder and 2U Chief Open Education Officer.

10th annual jobs report factsThe tenth annual Open Source Jobs Report examines trends in open source careers, which skills are most in-demand, the motivation for open source professionals, and how employers attract and retain qualified talent. Key findings from the Open Source Jobs Report include: 

  • There remains a shortage of qualified open source talent: The vast majority of employers (93%) report difficulty finding sufficient talent with open source skills. This trend is not going away with nearly half (46%) of employers planning to increase their open source hiring in the next six months, and 73% of open source professionals stating it would be easy to find a new role should they choose to move on.
  • Compensation has become a greater differentiating factor: Financial incentives including salary and bonuses are the most common means of keeping talent, with two-in-three open source professionals saying a higher salary would deter them from leaving a job. With flex time and remote work becoming the industry standard, lifestyle benefits are becoming less of a consideration, making financial incentives a bigger differentiator.
  • Certifications hit new levels of importance: An overwhelming number of employers (90%) stated that they will pay for employees to obtain certifications, and 81% of professionals plan to add certifications this year, demonstrating the weight these credentials hold. The 69% of employers who are more likely to hire an open source professional with a certification also reinforces that in light of talent shortages, prior experience is becoming less of a requirement as long as someone can demonstrate they possess the skills to do the job.
  • Cloud’s continued dominance: Cloud and container technology skills remain the most in demand this year, with 69% of employers seeking hires with these skills, and 71% of open source professionals agreeing these skills are in high demand. This is unsurprising with 77% of companies surveyed reporting they grew their use of cloud in the past year. Linux skills remain in high demand as well (61% of hiring managers) which is unsurprising considering how much Linux underpins cloud computing.
  • Cybersecurity concerns are mounting: Cybersecurity skills have the fourth biggest impact on hiring decisions, reported by 40% of employers, trailing only cloud, Linux and DevOps. Amongst professionals, 77% state they would benefit from additional cybersecurity training, demonstrating that although the importance of security is being recognized more, there is work to be done to truly secure technology deployments.
  • Companies are willing to spend more to avoid delaying projects: The most common way to close skills gaps currently according to hiring managers is training (43%), followed by 41% who say they hire consultants to fill these gaps, an expensive alternative and an increase from the 37% reporting this last year. This aligns with the only 16% who are willing to delay projects, demonstrating digital transformation activities are being prioritized even if they require costly consultants.

This year’s report is based on survey responses from 1,672 open source professionals and 559 respondents with responsibility for hiring open source professionals. Surveys were fielded online during the month of March 2022.

The full 10th Annual Open Source Jobs Report is available to download here for free.

About the Linux Foundation

Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation’s projects are critical to the world’s infrastructure, including Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js, and more. The Linux Foundation’s methodology focuses on leveraging best practices and addressing the needs of contributors, users, and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration. For more information, please visit us at linuxfoundation.org.

The Linux Foundation has registered trademarks and uses trademarks. For a list of trademarks of The Linux Foundation, please see its trademark usage page: www.linuxfoundation.org/trademark-usage. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.

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Media Contact:
Dan Brown
The Linux Foundation
415-420-7880
dbrown@linuxfoundation.org

A brief about my experience with the Linux Foundation Mentorship.

The post originally appeared on deprov477’s blog. The author, Anubhav Choudhary, particpated in the Linux Foundation’s Mentorship Program in 2022. The program is designed to help developers — many of whom are first-time open source contributors — with necessary skills and resources to learn, experiment, and contribute effectively to open source communities. By participating in a mentorship program, mentees have the opportunity to learn from experienced open source contributors as a segue to get internship and job opportunities upon graduation. If you are interested, we invite you to learn more and apply today here.


Hi everyone, I recently completed my LFX Mentorship project. I was a mentee for the LFXM summer term of 2022 at Pixie, a CNCF sandbox project donated by The New Relic.

In this blog, I will be sharing my experience of mentorship. (TLDR; just awesome, one-of-a-kind experience <3) If you're also applying for this (which every open-source newbie should), or have a doubt, feel free to drop me a message. I’d be more than happy to help.

What is LFX Mentorship?

Let’s start this by knowing about The Linux Foundation. The Linux Foundation (LF) is a non-profit organization, that standardizes the development of the Linux kernel and also promotes open source projects such as Kubernetes, GraphQL, Hyperledger, RISC-V, Xen project, etc.

The Linux Foundation Mentorship is a program run by LF, which helps developers with the necessary skills and resources to learn and contribute to open source projects, through 3 or 6 months of internship. During this period, the mentee is guided through the development workflow and methodologies used by open source organizations, through a project.

Selection procedure

I’ve been involved in open source for some time and have been applying for the mentorship, but got rejected every time.

This time also I was going through the projects and found a particularly interesting project. It was about parsing a protocol. This took my eye as at that time I was learning networking and experimenting a lot with communications. So naturally, I got interested. After reading the project details, I went to the project’s slack channel to find a mentor. Omid, one of Pixie’s founding engineers, was kind enough to reply to my message and asked for a quick call.

I talked to him and told him about my interest and how I made a preliminary Mongo wire protocol parser using Node.js as preparation. He seemed satisfied with this and told me about further steps and time commitment.

Other formalities included submitting a cover letter, and my resume.

A few days later got this:

LFX Hi Anubhav

Finally, after applying so many times, got selected !!!

Month 1

Started, and was introduced to my mentor Yaxiong Zhao, another founding engineer at Pixie. He told me about what we were going to do in the next 3 months. He demoed me the Pixie UI and explained to me the working of it, and how pixie catches packets (hint: eBPF). And then sent me the AMQP spec sheet, and how it needs to be implemented using C++.

Yes, the protocol changed from Mongo to AMQP, and the language from Node.js to C++. But I guess a very important survival quality of industry is being flexible.

So, in the first month, I got a theoretical knowledge about AMQP wire spec and experimented with it by deploying a local RabbitMQ server, and monitoring packets using Wireshark. My mentor also tried helping me build Pixie on my local machine, but we failed, even after switching distros. At last, we were able to set up my dev environment inside a container.

…quite a month

Month 2

In the first half of this month, I continued my research on AMQP (apparently implementing a protocol required a lot of extensive reading) and found analogies of it with protocols I was already familiar with, and kept on manually experimenting with packet translation.

3rd week of the month, It was finally time for me to start writing some code. Okay, so this was the difficult part. Having very limited knowledge of C++, continued forward. But my mentor was being an angel at this point, very patiently explaining to me, and pointing me in the right direction, making me understand every lex required. I started with implementing a data structure for storing and creating relations between packets. After some effort, finally got my PR merged.

AMQP types header file

Month 3

Continuing my code work, I started building a parser code. Yaxiong was very patient and helpful during this time, sending me blogs, and guides and explaining to me every little doubt I had. Thanks to him I was able to finally submit my preliminary code for parsing the code.

And a final thing for this was to write tests. Learned google’s C++ testing library. Wrote code, pushed.

Concluding the program

Like every good thing, this also came to an end. 12 weeks just fly by — faster than you can think — The program opened up a new world of open source and got me introduced to a lot of professional tools and etiquette. I appreciate the time and efforts my mentor put into this program.

Completing this internship was a dream come true, dodging tonnes of problems: internet, college, placement preparation, exams, everything. At many points in the internship, I was very certain I won’t be able to complete the project. but:

At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.

— Tail ender, The Martian.

Priyanka Sharma

In open source communities, we meet people every day.  We probably know their current role and responsibilities, but we don’t always have perspective on the history, education, and career path that made them who they are.  These are some of the untold stories of open source.  

At the Linux Foundation, we’re a couple of weeks away from launching a new podcast series, The Untold Stories of Open Source.  For our blog readers, you’re getting a sneak peek into a few of the stories that will kick off our series.  Today, we’ll share perspectives from episode 1, Priyanka Sharma.

After Graduating

Priyanka Sharma is an evangelist for the power of community in open source. Okay, she is much more than that, and we will get to that in a bit, but her passion and what drives all of her other successes in open source is the power of an inclusive, supportive community. 

Priyanka didn’t begin in open source. After graduating from Stanford University in 2009 with a degree in computer science, she started her career at Google in the online partnership group, where she was a technical consultant onboarding new Doubleclick clients and acted as an interim project manager for internal insights tools. Following Google, she held roles at Outright and GoDaddy, including integrating the Outright product into the GoDaddy sales catalog.  However, she was bitten by the build-a-business bug years earlier. In 2014, she gathered up some ideas and funding, experimenting with consumer products, but nothing was sticking. 

A Road to TechCrunch Disrupt

She realized that her business partner had built a time-tracking app for himself that was geared towards software developers. It was plugin based, so you could put it into your IDE and have time tracking at your fingertips. After all, who wants to track time, so the easier you make it, the better. 

All of the plugins were open source – introducing her to the world that she was about to live in. She noticed how people were drawn to the plugins, customizing them to work better for what they needed. She thought, “Maybe this is what we should focus on.” So, with a path she couldn’t have seen coming, she ended up getting into developer tools. The plugins were eventually used by 100,000 developers, featured by TechCruch Disrupt, and chosen by Y-Combinator

Setting Out on Her Own

But, as she says, “All that glitters isn’t gold.” There were challenges every day as with any startup, from fundraising to public visibility. Getting into Y-Combinator was a pivotal moment, forcing the team to come to terms with what it would take to work together to make a real commitment to the project together, as a team. 

Priyanka thought back to that time, “I think you can overcome anything when you are part of a team when you jive with each other, where everyone is aligned on the final outcome. When that is not the case, it is very tricky because everyone is going towards different goals. That is the meta issue that led us to go our different ways.” 

Now out on her own, she realized that there were not many people who understood marketing developer tools or a go-to-market strategy for developer tools. So, she began working with Heavybit, an accelerator and incubator for developer products. “They really took me in and gave me opportunities to help their portfolio companies.” Her work helped Rainforest QA, Lightstep, LaunchDarkly, and Postman API

Reflecting on Ben’s Approach

She ended up joining the Lightstep team because she saw not only the value of their reputation, but was drawn to the top-notch team and what they could teach her. Part of the draw was Dapper, a tool built at Google to provide developers with a distributed tracing system exploring the behavior of complex distributed systems. Dapper sparked many tools that weren’t anticipated by its initial developers. Ben Sigelman, co-creator of Dapper and the OpenTracing and OpenTelemetry projects, now part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). “Ben’s approach was very much as an educator. There are lots of experts out there, but if they aren’t interested in teaching, I don’t get any value in it.” 

As the second hire at Lightstep, she had a variety of roles, including developer relations, marketing, documentation, and more. 

The initial focus of the company was on OpenTracing. They initially were an independent open source project, but they eventually decided to join the Cloud Native Computing Foundation to give them more firepower than “us by ourselves.” 

Now, between her startup and Lightstep, she heard more and more about open source. She was drawn to the value placed on creation and collaboration. 

Evolving to Cloud Native

Priyanka attributes the growth of cloud native to the fact that the core group welcomed everyone. You can see that in person at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, the largest open source events in the world. She recalls how nervous she was going to her first Kube Con, feeling out of her element, but as soon as she walked through the doors, everyone was so welcoming and inclusive. 

Dan Kohn built CNCF into one of the most successful open source foundations in the world in large part because it was built on being an open and welcoming community. Priyanka recalls, “Dan baked DEI into everything at CNCF from day one. . . He set the example and put it into the structure.” 

Priyanka felt welcomed into the community and began asking for opportunities to participate. Sometimes the answer was yes, sometimes it was no thank you. But she still felt she had the support of the community. She had a sense of belonging for the first time in her career. 

In 2018, she joined GitLab as director of technical evangelism, where she formed the technical thought leadership team. She was also in charge of cloud native alliances. At the urging of her boss at GitLab, she put her name forward to be elected to the CNCF Board of Directors. 

While on the CNCF Board, she was energized by several other women on the Board. She said they set the bar high with a focus on the project’s good at all times. 

Fast forward. Now, Priyanka is the general manager of the CNCF, leading one of open source’s largest and most effective foundations. 

Seeking More Insight

You can listen to the full episode with her story on the Untold Stories of Open Source podcast and hear about the power of the CNCF community and its impact. 

The Untold Stories of Open Source is a new podcast from the Linux Foundation to share the stories behind those in open source. Take time to listen to all of the episodes and let us know what you think (or if you have suggestions of stories to be told). Look for the formal launch at Open Source Summit North America and OpenSSF Day on June 20, 2022. 

There are thousands of incredible open source stories to share and we’re looking forward to bringing more of them your way.  If you like what you hear, we encourage you to add the series to your playlist.  

For those seeking even more open source stories from across the Linux Foundation and the communities we serve, you might start with some of the other storytelling pioneers including: Open Source Stories, , FinOpsPod, I am a Mainframer, and The Changelog.  As we grow deeper roots in the podcasting arena, we’ll introduce more news about a network of open source podcasts.

Have even more time? Feedspot recently covered an additional 40 Open Source Podcasts worth listening to on your morning walk or commute home from the office.

John Mertic and his wife and children

This article originally appeared on the Open Mainframe Project’s blog. The author, John Mertic, is Director of Program Management at The Linux Foundation. 

One of the big things I celebrate about open source is the vast diversity of individuals that come together to build amazing technologies. A core belief that I have – and also that those at the Linux Foundation share – is that a diverse group of people coming together brings better outcomes, bigger innovations, and a more sustainable project. We at the Open Mainframe Project are truly fortunate to have such a global and diverse community, and with our hosted projects and working groups thriving, we see the impact of that diverse collaborative effort.

As many of you know, three of my children come from an Asian background – South Korea and China. I’ve shared in the past the joy they bring my wife and me, as well as those around us, but also the challenges and struggles of growing up in a culture different from where they were born.

Nowadays though, I worry about their safety and struggles even more – as there has been a rise in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate and crime. According to Stop AAPI Hate, from March 19, 2020 to December 31, 2021, a total of 10,905 hate incidents against AAPI persons were reported across the nation. This is sickening to me.

I was discussing this with a good friend recently and they shared that so much of diversity and inclusion is changing how you think about people, situations, and how you engage with others. This hits home for me now more than ever. I think about that with my children and me as a parent; seeing the world through their eyes has given me a new perspective on others and taught me empathy and understanding. But it has also given me an appreciation for others; who they are, where they come from, and what experiences and ideas they have.

In open source projects, it’s not a zero-sum game but a positive-sum game – open source development is based on the idea that, collectively, we are smarter than any one of us. That mindset is strong in our communities, and helps create that welcome space for all.

As we celebrate the last day of May and AAPI Heritage Month, I want to thank those Asian American and Pacific Islanders from our communities who have made a great impact. In fact, two of our members recently shared personal stories about their journeys. Thank you to Maemalynn Meanor, Senior Public Relations & Marketing Manager at the Linux Foundation, and Alex Kim, Technology Business Development Executive/OSS Incubator Advocate at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, for offering a look into their personal and professional lives. You can read their blogs here:

I thank everyone from those backgrounds for their great contributions to not only our projects, but open source in general, and hope that we can continue to make our communities a safe and inclusive place for all.

Alex Kim family photo

This blog post originally appeared on the Open Mainframe Project’s blog. They invited Open Mainframe Projects community members, contributors, and leaders to share their stories in honor of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Heritage Month.  The author, Alex Kim, Open Mainframe Project Mentor, Zowe contributor and Technology Business Development Executive/OSS Incubator Advocate at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, shares about how his family has influenced his life.  

Watching a recent TV show “Pachinko,” I was truly impressed by how the directors used screen arts and music.  Based on the New York Times bestseller, this show chronicles the hopes and dreams of a Korean immigrant family across four generations as they leave their homeland in an indomitable quest to survive. It was relatable and magical and wonderful to see how they focused on how three generations of a family dealt with biggest challenges of their times. After watching the first season,  I couldn’t help thinking about my parents and my own family here in U.S.

My dad was born in mid 1930’s from the Southern region of Korea, when Korea was still under Japanese colonial territory. His family endured a lot of hardships, loss and scary moments because they had to survive through the Korean War. In fact, one of his stories that he tells often is about how, when he was just 12-years old, he and his brother escaped a massacre that happened at their small town.


My dad when he was in army building peace house near DMZ in 1960s

alex kim dad's at military post in Korea in 1950s

Photo: My dad when he was in army building peace house near DMZ in 1960s.

Like most of the community, my dad’s family was very poor and couldn’t afford to have “normal” food. Young children were living on eating dregs from the liquor factory in the town.

The poverty, however, couldn’t stop my dad from learning and advancing . Eventually he went to naval academy and had a successful career where he then retired as an Army Lieutenant Colonel. He said he was the first person to ‘escape’ the poor rural town and successfully landed a job in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. He later oversaw the building of Panmunjom in 1965 – buildings in Joint Security Area near DMZ – a very famous landmark that you might even remember from when President Trump met with Kim Jong-un a few years ago.


Photo of recent Panmunjom – you can see they still have the buildings from when my dad used to work to build them in 1960s

panmunjom military post korea

Photo of recent Panmunjom – you can see they still have the buildings from when my dad used to work to build them in 1960s

My dad endured a lot in his life but what always stayed strong was his drive to survive and succeed, which is what he instilled in me.

In August 1999, I landed at New York’s JFK airport with one big luggage (called ‘E-Min Gah Bang’, meaning ‘immigration bag’) and two large carton boxes. My destination was somewhere in Brooklyn, where I was supposed to start attending Brooklyn Polytech for a graduate study. Sometimes, when I look back,  I am not sure how I did it.  I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t know the language well and I didn’t really know the country itself.

If I’m honest, it was a little scary, but my heart was filled with excitement. I would survive and succeed – just like my dad did. I could learn anything and become what I wanted. (Also, I still can’t forget the taste of Junior’s Cheesecake – where my roommate took me to celebrate my first night in the US.)

I was truly lucky that I got so much help from many people, as for one I  got to join a research lab for Professor Ramesh Karri, where his team was implementing AES candidates into circuits. I implemented the Rijndael algorithm, which was selected as ‘the standard’ in 2000. This experience later led to a job opportunity at IBM Poughkeepsie where designed the first AES engine in hardware format within the company.


Photo of IBM 4758 – which was replaced with IBM 4764 that I worked on. Learn more – IBM CryptoExpress HSM.

IBM 4758

Photo of IBM 4758 – which was replaced with IBM 4764 that I worked on. Learn more – IBM CryptoExpress HSM.

When I visited Korea after I got the job offer, my dad was proud of me. He reflected how me going to New York was the same as him leaving the small town he grew up. I didn’t realize much at the time what it means leaving families and going abroad for my own goals. I was just happy about the fact that I made my parents proud for the small success I could achieve. Thinking back now, my generation was still in this ‘make your parents proud’ lifestyle – it seemed very common in many Asian cultured families.

More than 20 years have passed since my first day at work. I have been through different jobs and different companies.  I got married and have my own family now. When my children were born and as they grew older, I had to face something that I didn’t realize I was going to miss.

I am the youngest of four siblings – so I never felt lonely growing up. We always had extended family members visiting during holidays and had big family events like weddings and New Years parties. Now, with my children in New York and far from my family in Korea, I am a little sad that I can’t give them the festive feelings and experiences that I was given. My wife and I celebrate with them as best we can but it is a little different when it’s a small family of four compared to an extended family with lots of cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.


Recent family gathering in Korea celebrating ‘Parents Day’ on May 8th 2022.

alex kim and his extended family in Korea

Photo: Recent family gathering in Korea celebrating ‘Parents Day’ on May 8th 2022.

I feel bad that I haven’t given them this opportunity yet – an opportunity to have days filled with fun, noisy family gatherings over the holidays. An opportunity to have a fight with cousins and rumble around the house screaming.

This is why, I am taking my kids to Korea this summer. It’s a little challenging as COVID is still a bad situation there but this will be a short trip. I hope I can give some of those ‘extended family’ memories to my kids as we visit with family.

I want to spend more time with my dad – I hope I can ask him how he felt when I was growing up. I want to ask him if he was worried like me. I want to ask him if it was hard for him sending me abroad and not being able to see me for many years.

Although I chose this career path and I love it – I don’t think I had enough thoughts about what my (and my own family’s) life would be like if I live abroad. I don’t regret on any of my choices – I rather feel I am truly blessed. However, growing up with the culture where ‘Hyo(filial duty)’ is one of the most important virtue in Korea – I am not doing it right as I can’t live near my parents and help them when they needed me.

I think many Asian cultures have this deep rooted family foundation in which the children take care of the parents when they get older. But for those of us who dreamed big and moved out of the countries we grew up in to search for a new life, an opportunity to build a better life, this is hard.

Yesterday I was talking to my mom and she told me my dad fell on the steps outdoor and hurt his leg. I wished I could run back to their house and help him visit a doctor’s office – but I can’t.  All I could do was make a few phone calls.

These thoughts and feelings never came up when I was younger. They were probably planted in my heart long ago when I was a still kid – but it took more than 30 years to grow and finally bloom into a more mature, grown-up heart.


Recent photo of my family

alex kim and his wife and children

Photo: Recent photo of my family

Now, I wonder how my kids will feel when they get to my age. How will they feel growing up in America as second generation Asian American immigrants? Will they fit in here? Will they want to know more of their Korean family?

I will probably never understand their feelings – but I hope they ask me their own questions about life as they grow up. I hope they remember all of the short visits to Korea and remember where their parents came from. I hope they aspire to visit Korea themselves someday with their families. It makes me smile thinking about these things. I think I am getting old now… I am thankful that we all are in this journey together.

My journey started with my dad in a small town in Korea and continued when I put roots down in Brooklyn. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Trust yourself. Let your heart work with your mind

This article originally appeared on the Open Mainframe Project’s blog. The author, Maemalynn Meanor, is a senior public relations and marketing manager at The Linux Foundation. 

In honor of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Heritage Month, I wanted to share something my mother passed on to me.

I’ve worked in communications and public relations for the technology maemalynn manor and her mom industry for almost 20 years. I’ve had to learn new industries, competitors, the intricacies of different technologies and how to interpret engineering language.

In all of these roles – no matter where I was – one thing remained the same. I was often the only Asian woman in the room. Without a roadmap or someone to look up to as an example of what to do I often leaned on my mom because standing in a room full of men who made me doubt myself was scary and intimidating. Always.

Whether it was in person or via webex or phone, nothing is worse than that moment when you say something and all the men in the room pause. Sometimes, they’ve agreed with my recommendations. Sometimes, they shot it down. One time, someone mansplained my idea back to me and then everyone in the room agreed that “that” idea was better than mine.

My mom always had the same advice. Trust yourself. Let your heart work with your mind – the strength of it encompasses not just things I learned in school but things my parents taught me about my family and my Thai heritage and culture.

She said this often. But there were times when I ignored her advice. I didn’t trust myself.

I remember one particular time more than a decade ago that I decided to distance myself from my heritage. I didn’t want to be the Asian woman in the room. I even tried to not be the woman in the room. I tried to be part of the “boy’s club.” I laughed at the inappropriate jokes. I was quiet when they complained about women leaders and used derogatory language.

This made me feel terrible about myself, my work and my life in general. I was going through the motions and no longer enjoyed my work and nor did I like my surroundings. But I kept going. It was my job after all.

A few months later, I was asked to go back to my college and meet with the Asian Students in Alliance (ASIA) club, which I was the former Vice President of, about my career in public relations and communications.

I struggled with this – am I really going to walk into a room full of bright Asian students and tell them that their culture doesn’t belong in the workplace? Am I okay with telling them to not highlight their differences and to not be proud of their culture? Am I really going to tell a room full of beautiful people from different Asian backgrounds – to just try to “blend in?”

No. My mom raised me better than that.

So I took her words and repeated them over and over again. Trust yourself. Believe in you. Let your heart and mind lead you where you need to be because they have the support of all your ancestors, your heritage and your traditions.

That night, I told my mom she’s right. I believe her response was “I know. I’m right about everything. Always. Don’t forget that.”

I am still sometimes the only Asian woman in the room but I’m happy to say that it’s not as often as it used to be. Now, there are more diverse backgrounds, more women, more voices – more of everything. It’s becoming easier to be who you are and love what you represent inside the workplace. This sense of belonging is something I don’t take for granted and will always be thankful for.

diversity equity inclusion

This article originally appeared on the Open Mainframe Project’s blog. It is written by Earl Dixon, Principal Client Services Management at Broadcom


making our strong community stronger a collaborative initiative

After watching the first Making Our Strong Community Stronger panel on “How Personal Experiences Shape Corporate Inclusion,” I was very interested in the topic and engaged my management team to see what I could do to help in the effort. As a result, I was given the opportunity to participate in the second panel discussion focused on UNMASKING in the work place. I was very eager to participate as I felt the panel would be a great way for me to share my experiences.

As we started to discuss the structure and questions, I did get a little nervous.  I would be going from “not unmasking at work” to “unmasking” for my peers, management, and others in the industry.  We had a dry run for the panel, and I left that being even more nervous.  The other panelists (outside of my peers) were executives and managers who were white and had no issue with unmasking at work.  It was intimidating, but as I talked with Dr. Chance about my feelings, she made me feel more comfortable about moving forward.  As the days wound down closer to the event, I actually grew nervously excited.  Once that day came, I wanted to make sure that my story would be told the way that I needed it to be told. I wanted my story to be real and give an understanding of what it is like being a black man coming up in a white dominated field.



Much to my surprise, the panel went very well, and immediately after doing it, I felt a great sense of relief. It was as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  The experience was very therapeutic for me.  The next day, the Making Our Strong Community Stronger initiative hosted a Town Hall for webinar attendees that had attended the panel discussion live and wanted to ask questions or provide feedback.  I felt even more confident in answering the questions posed by the audience, and it actually made me feel even better that I had been involved.

For the next few days, I received numerous emails, LinkedIn notes, and friend requests from individuals who applauded the webinar and the conversation we were able to have. I also heard stories from others who had similar experiences. Someone even asked me to discuss how my experiences could help him better understand how to support his diverse workforce.

In fact, I met with some of my own management team to discuss what they could be doing better from a DEI perspective. Having leaders from my company ask me questions and listen to what I had to say gave me a sense of appreciation that what we did in our panel was not only being heard, but real action was also occurring to help others coming into this mainframe space to work.

Overall, I am proud of the fact that I was able to participate in the DEI panel and look forward to doing more to help with DEI in the future.  It was a pleasure to work with Dr. Chance and her team in this effort to bring awareness to the truly important DEI issues that go unnoticed in the industry.

Nearly a year after the Internet Engineering Task Force took up a plan to replace words that could be considered racist, the debate is still raging.

Anyone who joined a video call during the pandemic probably has a global volunteer organization called the Internet Engineering Task Force to thank for making the technology work. The group, which helped create the technical foundations of the internet, designed the language that allows most video to run smoothly online. It made it possible for someone with a Gmail account to communicate with a friend who uses Yahoo, and for shoppers to safely enter their credit card information on e-commerce sites.

Now the organization is tackling an even thornier issue: getting rid of computer engineering terms that evoke racist history, like “master” and “slave” and “whitelist” and “blacklist.”

But what started as an earnest proposal has stalled as members of the task force have debated the history of slavery and the prevalence of racism in tech. Some companies and tech organizations have forged ahead anyway, raising the possibility that important technical terms will have different meanings to different people — a troubling proposition for an engineering world that needs broad agreement so technologies work together.

While the fight over terminology reflects the intractability of racial issues in society, it is also indicative of a peculiar organizational culture that relies on informal consensus to get things done.

The Internet Engineering Task Force eschews voting, and it often measures consensus by asking opposing factions of engineers to hum during meetings. The hums are then assessed by volume and ferocity. Vigorous humming, even from only a few people, could indicate strong disagreement, a sign that consensus has not yet been reached.

The I.E.T.F. has created rigorous standards for the internet and for itself. Until 2016, it required the documents in which its standards are published to be precisely 72 characters wide and 58 lines long, a format adapted from the era when programmers punched their code into paper cards and fed them into early IBM computers.

“We have big fights with each other, but our intent is always to reach consensus,” said Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the task force and a vice president at Google. “I think that the spirit of the I.E.T.F. still is that, if we’re going to do anything, let’s try to do it one way so that we can have a uniform expectation that things will function.”

The group is made up of about 7,000 volunteers from around the world. It has two full-time employees, an executive director and a spokesman, whose work is primarily funded by meeting dues and the registration fees of dot-org internet domains. It cannot force giants like Amazon or Apple to follow its guidance, but tech companies often choose to do so because the I.E.T.F. has created elegant solutions for engineering problems.

Its standards are hashed out during fierce debates on email lists and at in-person meetings. The group encourages participants to fight for what they believe is the best approach to a technical problem.

While shouting matches are not uncommon, the Internet Engineering Task Force is also a place where young technologists break into the industry. Attending meetings is a rite of passage, and engineers sometimes leverage their task force proposals into job offers from tech giants.

In June, against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter protests, engineers at social media platforms, coding groups and international standards bodies re-examined their code and asked themselves: Was it racist? Some of their databases were called “masters” and were surrounded by “slaves,” which received information from the masters and answered queries on their behalf, preventing them from being overwhelmed. Others used “whitelists” and “blacklists” to filter content.

Mallory Knodel, the chief technology officer at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a policy organization, wrote a proposal suggesting that the task force use more neutral language. Invoking slavery was alienating potential I.E.T.F. volunteers, and the terms should be replaced with ones that more clearly described what the technology was doing, argued Ms. Knodel and the co-author of her proposal, Nielsten Oever, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam. “Blocklist” would explain what a blacklist does, and “primary” could replace “master,” they wrote.

On an email list, responses trickled in. Some were supportive. Others proposed revisions. And some were vehemently opposed. One respondent wrote that Ms. Knodel’s draft tried to construct a new “Ministry of Truth.”

Amid insults and accusations, many members announced that the battle had become too toxic and that they would abandon the discussion.

The pushback didn’t surprise Ms. Knodel, who had proposed similar changes in 2018 without gaining traction. The engineering community is “quite rigid and averse to these sorts of changes,” she said. “They are averse to conversations about community comportment, behavior — the human side of things.”

In July, the Internet Engineering Task Force’s steering group issued a rare statement about the draft from Ms. Knodel and Mr. ten Oever. “Exclusionary language is harmful,” it said.

A month later, two alternative proposals emerged. One came from Keith Moore, an I.E.T.F. contributor who initially backed Ms. Knodel’s draft before creating his own. His cautioned that fighting over language could bottleneck the group’s work and argued for minimizing disruption.

The other came from Bron Gondwana, the chief executive of the email company Fastmail, who said he had been motivated by the acid debate on the mailing list.

“I could see that there was no way we would reach a happy consensus,” he said. “So I tried to thread the needle.”

Mr. Gondwana suggested that the group should follow the tech industry’s example and avoid terms that would distract from technical advances.

Last month, the task force said it would create a new group to consider the three drafts and decide how to proceed, and members involved in the discussion appeared to favor Mr. Gondwana’s approach. Lars Eggert, the organization’s chair and the technical director for networking at the company NetApp, said he hoped guidance on terminology would be issued by the end of the year.

The rest of the industry isn’t waiting. The programming community that maintains MySQL, a type of database software, chose “source” and “replica” as replacements for “master” and “slave.” GitHub, the code repository owned by Microsoft, opted for “main” instead of “master.”

In July, Twitter also replaced a number of terms after Regynald Augustin, an engineer at the company, came across the word “slave” in Twitter’s code and advocated change.

But while the industry abandons objectionable terms, there is no consensus about which new words to use. Without guidance from the Internet Engineering Task Force or another standards body, engineers decide on their own. The World Wide Web Consortium, which sets guidelines for the web, updated its style guide last summer to “strongly encourage” members to avoid terms like “master” and “slave,” and the IEEE, an organization that sets standards for chips and other computing hardware, is weighing a similar change.

Other tech workers are trying to solve the problem by forming a clearinghouse for ideas about changing language.

That effort, the Inclusive Naming Initiative, aims to provide guidance to standards bodies and companies that want to change their terminology but don’t know where to begin.

The group got together while working on an open-source software project, Kubernetes, which like the I.E.T.F. accepts contributions from volunteers. Like many others in tech, it began the debate over terminology last summer.

“We saw this blank space,” said Priyanka Sharma, the general manager of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, a nonprofit that manages Kubernetes. Ms. Sharma worked with several other Kubernetes contributors, including Stephen Augustus and Celeste Horgan, to create a rubric that suggests alternative words and guides people through the process of making changes without causing systems to break. Several major tech companies, including IBM and Cisco, have signed on to follow the guidance.

Priyanka Sharma

Priyanka Sharma and several other tech workers in the Inclusive Naming Initiative came up
with a rubric to suggest alternative words

Although the Internet Engineering Task Force is moving more slowly, Mr. Eggert said it would eventually establish new guidelines. But the debate over the nature of racism — and whether the organization should weigh in on the matter — has continued on its mailing list.

In a subversion of an April Fools’ Day tradition within the group, several members submitted proposals mocking diversity efforts and the push to alter terminology in tech.

Two prank proposals were removed hours later because they were “racist and deeply disrespectful,” Mr. Eggert wrote in an email to task force participants, while a third remained up.

“We build consensus the hard way, so to speak, but in the end the consensus is usually stronger because people feel their opinions were reflected,” Mr. Eggert said. “I wish we could be faster, but on topics like this one that are controversial, it’s better to be slower.”

Kate Conger is a technology reporter in the San Francisco bureau, where she covers the gig economy and social media. @kateconger

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/

Jason Perlow, Director of Project Insights and Editorial Content at the Linux Foundation, had an opportunity to speak with Shuah Khan about her experiences as a woman in the technology industry. She discusses how mentorship can improve the overall diversity and makeup of open source projects, why software maintainers are important for the health of open source projects such as the Linux kernel, and how language inclusivity and codes of conduct can improve relationships and communication between software maintainers and individual contributors.

JP: So, Shuah, I know you wear many different hats at the Linux Foundation. What do you call yourself around here these days?

SK: <laughs> Well, I primarily call myself a Kernel Maintainer & Linux Fellow. In addition to that, I focus on two areas that are important to the continued health and sustainability of the open source projects in the Linux ecosystem. The first one is bringing more women into the Kernel community, and additionally, I am leading the mentorship program efforts overall at the Linux Foundation. And in that role, in addition to the Linux Kernel Mentorship, we are looking at how the Linux Foundation mentorship program is working overall, how it is scaling. I make sure the LFX Mentorship platform scales and serves diverse mentees and mentors’ needs in this role. 

The LF mentorships program includes several projects in the Linux kernel, LFN, HyperLedger, Open MainFrame, OpenHPC, and other technologies. The Linux Foundation’s Mentorship Programs are designed to help developers with the necessary skills–many of whom are first-time open source contributors–experiment, learn, and contribute effectively to open source communities. 

The mentorship program has been successful in its mission to train new developers and make these talented pools of prospective employees trained by experts to employers. Several graduated mentees have found jobs. New developers have improved the quality and security of various open source projects, including the Linux kernel. Several Linux kernel bugs were fixed, a new subsystem mentor was added, and a new driver maintainer is now part of the Linux kernel community. My sincere thanks to all our mentors for volunteering to share their expertise.

JP: How long have you been working on the Kernel?

SK: Since 2010, or 2011, I got involved in the Android Mainlining project. My first patch removed the Android pmem driver.

JP: Wow! Is there any particular subsystem that you specialize in?

SK: I am a self described generalist. I maintain the kernel self-test subsystem, the USB over IP driver, usbip tool, and the cpupower tool. I contributed to the media subsystem working on Media Controller Device Allocator API to resolve shared device resource management problems across device drivers from different subsystems.

JP: Hey, I’ve actually used the USB over IP driver when I worked at Microsoft on Azure. And also, when I’ve used AWS and Google Compute. 

SK: It’s a small niche driver used in cloud computing. Docker and other containers use that driver heavily. That’s how they provide remote access to USB devices on the server to export devices to be imported by other systems for use.

JP: I initially used it for IoT kinds of stuff in the embedded systems space. Were you the original lead developer on it, or was it one of those things you fell into because nobody else was maintaining it?

SK: Well, twofold. I was looking at USB over IP because I like that technology. it just so happened the driver was brought from the staging tree into the Mainline kernel, I volunteered at the time to maintain it. Over the last few years, we discovered some security issues with it, because it handles a lot of userspace data, so I had a lot of fun fixing all of those. <laugh>.

JP: What drew you into the Linux operating system, and what drew you into the kernel development community in the first place?

SK: Well, I have been doing kernel development for a very long time. I worked on the LynxOS RTOS, a while back, and then HP/UX, when I was working at HP, after which I transitioned into  doing open source development — the OpenHPI project, to support HP’s rack server hardware, and that allowed me to work much more closely with Linux on the back end. And at some point, I decided I wanted to work with the kernel and become part of the Linux kernel community. I started as an independent contributor.

JP: Maybe it just displays my own ignorance, but you are the first female, hardcore Linux kernel developer I have ever met. I mean, I had met female core OS developers before — such as when I was at Microsoft and IBM — but not for Linux. Why do you suppose we lack women and diversity in general when participating in open source and the technology industry overall?

SK: So I’ll answer this question from my perspective, from what I have seen and experienced, over the years. You are right; you probably don’t come across that many hardcore women Kernel developers. I’ve been working professionally in this industry since the early 1990s, and on every project I have been involved with, I am usually the only woman sitting at the table. Some of it, I think, is culture and society. There are some roles that we are told are acceptable to women — even me, when I was thinking about going into engineering as a profession. Some of it has to do with where we are guided, as a natural path. 

There’s a natural resistance to choosing certain professions that you have to overcome first within yourself and externally. This process is different for everybody based on their personality and their origin story. And once you go through the hurdle of getting your engineering degree and figuring out which industry you want to work in, there is a level of establishing credibility in those work environments you have to endure and persevere. Sometimes when I would walk into a room, I felt like people were looking at me and thinking, “why is she here?” You aren’t accepted right away, and you have to overcome that as well. You have to go in there and say, “I am here because I want to be here, and therefore, I belong here.” You have to have that mindset. Society sends you signals that “this profession is not for me” — and you have to be aware of that and resist it. I consider myself an engineer that happens to be a woman as opposed to a woman engineer.

JP: Are you from India, originally?

SK: Yes.

JP: It’s funny; my wife really likes this Netflix show about matchmaking in India. Are you familiar with it?

SK: <laughs> Yes I enjoyed the series, and A Suitable Girl documentary film that follows three women as they navigate making decisions about their careers and family obligations.

JP: For many Americans, this is our first introduction to what home life is like for Indian people. But many of the women featured on this show are professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers. And they are very ambitious, but of course, the family tries to set them up in a marriage to find a husband for them that is compatible. As a result, you get to learn about the traditional values and roles they still want women to play there — while at the same time, many women are coming out of higher learning institutions in that country that are seeking technical careers. 

SK: India is a very fascinatingly complex place. But generally speaking, in a global sense, having an environment at home where your parents tell you that you may choose any profession you want to choose is very encouraging. I was extremely fortunate to have parents like that. They never said to me that there was a role or a mold that I needed to fit into. They have always told me, “do what you want to do.” Which is different; I don’t find that even here, in the US. Having that support system, beginning in the home to tell you, “you are open to whatever profession you want to choose,” is essential. That’s where a lot of the change has to come from. 

JP: Women in technical and STEM professions are becoming much more prominent in other countries, such as China, Japan, and Korea. For some reason, in the US, I tend to see more women enter the medical profession than hard technology — and it might be a level of effort and perceived reward thing. You can spend eight years becoming a medical doctor or eight years becoming a scientist or an engineer, and it can be equally difficult, but the compensation at the end may not be the same. It’s expensive to get an education, and it takes a long time and hard work, regardless of the professional discipline.

SK: I have also heard that women also like to enter professions where they can make a difference in the world — a human touch, if you will. So that may translate to them choosing careers where they can make a larger impact on people — and they may view careers in technology as not having those same attributes. Maybe when we think about attracting women to technology fields, we might have to promote technology aspects that make a difference. That may be changing now, such as the LF Public Health (LFPH) project we kicked off last year. And with LF AI & Data Foundation, we are also making a difference in people’s lives, such as detecting earthquakes or analyzing climate change. If we were to promote projects such as these, we might draw more women in.

JP: So clearly, one of the areas of technology where you can make a difference is in open source, as the LF is hosting some very high-concept and existential types of projects such as LF Energy, for example — I had no idea what was involved in it and what its goals were until I spoke to Shuli Goodman in-depth about it. With the mentorship program, I assume we need this to attract fresh talent — because as folks like us get older and retire, and they exit the field, we need new people to replace them. So I assume mentorship, for the Linux Foundation, is an investment in our own technologies, correct?

SK: Correct. Bringing in new developers into the fold is the primary purpose, of course — and at the same time, I view the LF as taking on mentorship provides that neutral, level playing field across the industry for all open source projects. Secondly, we offer a self-service platform, LFX Mentorship, where anyone can come in and start their project. So when the COVID-19 pandemic began, we expanded this program to help displaced people — students, et cetera, and less visible projects. Not all projects typically get as much funding or attention as others do — such as a Kubernetes or  Linux kernel — among the COVID mentorship program projects we are funding. I am particularly proud of supporting a climate change-related project, Using Machine Learning to Predict Deforestation.

The self-service approach allows us to fund and add new developers to projects where they are needed. The LF mentorships are remote work opportunities that are accessible to developers around the globe. We see people sign up for mentorship projects from places we haven’t seen before, such as Africa, and so on, thus creating a level playing field. 

The other thing that we are trying to increase focus on is how do you get maintainers? Getting new developers is a starting point, but how do we get them to continue working on the projects they are mentored on? As you said, someday, you and I and others working on these things are going to retire, maybe five or ten years from now. This is a harder problem to solve than training and adding new developers to the project itself.

JP: And that is core to our software supply chain security mission. It’s one thing to have this new, flashy project, and then all these developers say, “oh wow, this is cool, I want to join that,” but then, you have to have a certain number of people maintaining it for it to have long-term viability. As we learned in our FOSS study with Harvard, there are components in the Linux operating system that are like this. Perhaps even modules within the kernel itself, I assume that maybe you might have only one or two people actively maintaining it for many years. And what happens if that person dies or can no longer work? What happens to that code? And if someone isn’t familiar with that code, it might become abandoned. That’s a serious problem in open source right now, isn’t it?

SK: Right. We have seen that with SSH and other security-critical areas. What if you don’t have the bandwidth to fix it? Or the money to fix it? I ended up volunteering to maintain a tool for a similar reason when the maintainer could no longer contribute regularly. It is true; we have many drivers where maintainer bandwidth is an issue in the kernel. So the question is, how do we grow that talent pool?

JP: Do we need a job board or something? We need X number of maintainers. So should we say, “Hey, we know you want to join the kernel project as a contributor, and we have other people working on this thing, but we really need your help working on something else, and if you do a good job, we know tons of companies willing to hire developers just like you?” 

SK: With the kernel, we are talking about organic growth; it is just like any other open source project. It’s not a traditional hire and talent placement scenario. Organically they have to have credibility, and they have to acquire it through experience and relationships with people on those projects. We just talked about it at the previous Linux Plumbers Conference, we do have areas where we really need maintainers, and the MAINTAINERS file does show areas where they need help. 

To answer your question, it’s not one of those things where we can seek people to fill that role, like LinkedIn or one of the other job sites. It has to be an organic fulfillment of that role, so the mentorship program is essential in creating those relationships. It is the double-edged sword of open source; it is both the strength and weakness. People need to have an interest in becoming a maintainer and also a commitment to being one, long term.

JP: So, what do you see as the future of your mentorship and diversity efforts at the Linux Foundation? What are you particularly excited about that is forthcoming that you are working on?

SK: I view the Linux Foundation mentoring as a three-pronged approach to provide unstructured webinars, training courses, and structured mentoring programs. All of these efforts combine to advance a diverse, healthy, and vibrant open source community. So over the past several months, we have been morphing our speed mentorship style format into an expanded webinar format — the LF Live Mentorship series. This will have the function of growing our next level of expertise. As a complement to our traditional mentorship programs, these are webinars and courses that are an hour and a half long that we hold a few times a month that tackle specific technical areas in software development. So it might cover how to write great commit logs, for example, for your patches to be accepted, or how to find bugs in C code. Commit logs are one of those things that are important to code maintenance, so promoting good documentation is a beneficial thing. Webinars provide a way for experts short on time to share their knowledge with a few hours of time commitment and offer a self-paced learning opportunity to new developers.

Additionally, I have started the Linux Kernel Mentorship forum for developers and their mentors to connect and interact with others participating in the Linux Kernel Mentorship program and graduated mentees to mentor new developers. We kicked off Linux Kernel mentorship Spring 2021 and are planning for Summer and Fall.

A big challenge is we are short on mentors to be able to scale the structured program. Solving the problem requires help from LF member companies and others to encourage their employees to mentor, “it takes a village,” they say.

JP: So this webinar series and the expanded mentorship program will help developers cultivate both hard and soft skills, then.

SK: Correct. The thing about doing webinars is that if we are talking about this from a diversity perspective, they might not have time for a full-length mentorship, typically like a three-month or six-month commitment. This might help them expand their resources for self-study. When we ask for developers’ feedback about what else they need to learn new skill sets, we hear that they don’t have resources, don’t have time to do self-study, and learn to become open source developers and software maintainers. This webinar series covers general open source software topics such as the Linux kernel and legal issues. It could also cover topics specific to other LF projects such as CNCF, Hyperledger, LF Networking, etc.

JP: Anything else we should know about the mentorship program in 2021?

SK: In my view,  attracting diversity and new people is two-fold. One of the things we are working on is inclusive language. Now, we’re not talking about curbing harsh words, although that is a component of what we are looking at. The English you and I use in North America isn’t the same English used elsewhere. As an example, when we use North American-centric terms in our email communications, such as when a maintainer is communicating on a list with people from South Korea, something like “where the rubber meets the road” may not make sense to them at all. So we have to be aware of that.

JP: I know that you are serving on the Linux kernel Code of Conduct Committee and actively developing the handbook. When I first joined the Linux Foundation, I learned what the Community Managers do and our governance model. I didn’t realize that we even needed to have codes of conduct for open source projects. I have been covering open source for 25 years, but I come out of the corporate world, such as IBM and Microsoft. Codes of Conduct are typically things that the Human Resources officer shows you during your initial onboarding, as part of reviewing your employee manual. You are expected to follow those rules as a condition of employment. 

So why do we need Codes of Conduct in an open source project? Is it because these are people who are coming from all sorts of different backgrounds, companies, and ways of life, and may not have interacted in this form of organized and distributed project before? Or is it about personalities, people interacting with each other over long distance, and email, which creates situations that may arise due to that separation?

SK: Yes, I come out of the corporate world as well, and of course, we had to practice those codes of conduct in that setting. But conduct situations arise that you have to deal with in the corporate world. There are always interpersonal scenarios that can be difficult or challenging to work with — the corporate world isn’t better than the open source world in that respect. It is just that all of that happens behind a closed setting.

But there is no accountability in the open source world because everyone participates out of their own free will. So on a small, traditional closed project, inside the corporate world, where you might have 20 people involved, you might get one or two people that could be difficult to work with. The same thing happens and is multiplied many times in the open source community, where you have hundreds of thousands of developers working across many different open source projects. 

The biggest problem with these types of projects when you encounter situations such as this is dealing with participation in public forums. In the corporate world, this can be addressed in private. But on a public mailing list, if you are being put down or talked down to, it can be extremely humiliating. 

These interactions are not always extreme cases; they could be simple as a maintainer or a lead developer providing negative feedback — so how do you give it? It has to be done constructively. And that is true for all of us.

JP: Anything else?

SK: In addition to bringing our learnings and applying this to the kernel project, I am also doing this on the ELISA project, where I chair the Technical Steering Committee, where I am bridging communication between experts from the kernel and the safety communities. To make sure we can use the kernel the best ways in safety-critical applications, in the automotive and medical industry, and so on. Many lessons can be learned in terms of connecting the dots, defining clearly what is essential to make Linux run effectively in these environments, in terms of dependability. How can we think more proactively instead of being engaged in fire-fighting in terms of security or kernel bugs? As a result of this, I am also working on any necessary kernel changes needed to support these safety-critical usage scenarios.

JP: Before we go, what are you passionate about besides all this software stuff? If you have any free time left, what else do you enjoy doing?

SK: I read a lot. COVID quarantine has given me plenty of opportunities to read. I like to go hiking, snowshoeing, and other outdoor activities. Living in Colorado gives me ample opportunities to be in nature. I also like backpacking — while I wasn’t able to do it last year because of COVID — I like to take backpacking trips with my son. I also love to go to conferences and travel, so I am looking forward to doing that again as soon as we are able.

Talking about backpacking reminded me of the two-day, 22-mile backpacking trip during the summer of 2019 with my son. You can see me in the picture above at the end of the road, carrying a bearbox, sleeping bag, and hammock. It was worth injuring my foot and hurting in places I didn’t even know I had.

JP: Awesome. I enjoyed talking to you today. So happy I finally got to meet you virtually.