Linux Foundation spends just 3.4% of its money on Linux
Where does the Linux Foundation spend the rest of its $177 Million in revenue? Let's take a look.
The Linux Foundation — the organization that effectively controls Linux and employs the creator of Linux — just published its yearly report for 2021.
Two numbers quickly jump out at you when reading the report:
$177 Million USD : The amount of money The Linux Foundation made in 2021 (mostly from some undisclosed combination of memberships and donations).
3.4% : The amount of their spending that went towards Linux.
You read that right. The Linux Foundation only spends 3.4% on… Linux.
That screenshot right there is the entire “Financial Disclosure” section of the 85 page annual report. That is every single detail that they’ve published on their finances in this report.
How, exactly, do those categories break down? What amount of revenue comes from individual donations compared to corporate memberships? How much went to each project for “Project Support” (which makes up the majority of the expenditures)?
For being an organization focused on “Linux” and “Open Source”, The Linux Foundation is extraordinarily cagey and closed when it comes to talking about how they spend the money folks donate.
But, one thing we do know for sure, “Linux Kernel Support” is the lowest priority for The Linux Foundation. Literally. It is the smallest expenditure they have. The very bottom of the list.
So what, exactly, is The Linux Foundation spending the rest of that $177 Million dollars on? Let’s take a look through the rest of their annual report and see what we can glean.
Efforts in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Well. One of their biggest focuses seems to be “Efforts in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”.
Remember how their entire financial disclosure consisted of two small pie charts that took up less than one page? The “Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion” section gets 5 pages. Chock full of text. Including:
“Addressing Racial Justice Efforts Through Code: In February of 2021, the Linux Foundation announced it would host seven Call for Code for Racial Justice projects, 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.”
Here are two of the projects that The Linux Foundation is working on:
Fair Change is a platform to help record, catalog, and access evidence of potentially racially charged incidents to help enable transparency, reeducation, and reform as a matter of public interest and safety.
Five Fifths Voter: This web app empowers minorities to exercise their right to vote and helps ensure their voice is heard by determining optimal voting strategies and limiting suppression issues.
Regardless of what you, I, or anyone else thinks of any of that from a political point of view… they’re not exactly “Linux-y”.
Oh, I found something Linux-related!
Their “Inclusive Language Efforts” to restrict which words can be used within the Linux Kernel (and elsewhere). Things like “whitespace”, “whitelist / blacklist”, “master / slave”, etc.:
“The Linux kernel community adopted inclusive language in the Linux 5.8 release, showing its commitment to Diversity and Inclusion. For other projects, the Inclusive Naming Initiative launched at KubeCon North America to standardize inclusive language across the industry. It released a training course, LFC103: Inclusive Strategies for Open Source Communities, to support this.”
How much time and money was spent on that? Was that part of the 3.4% spent on the Linux Kernel? Was that in some other budget? Who knows!
It is unclear how much money has been spent on their “LF: Public Health” category of projects, but we already know they have made a significant investment into “Vaccine Passport” systems.
What does creating a vaccine passport system designed to restrict movements, activities, and freedoms of people have to do with Linux?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Saving the Planet
At one point in the annual report, The Linux Foundation states (assumedly with a straight face): “Our Biggest Challenge Yet: Saving the Planet”.
“Several Linux Foundation projects are already working on various climate initiatives. For example, LF Energy is accelerating the decarbonization of the global economy through the transformation of power system networks and delivering a full interoperability stack for EVs and vehicles to grid (V2G) to onboard intermittent and renewable energy at scale. LF Energy now encompasses 20 open source projects.”
I like the planet. The planet is cool. What does this have to do with Linux? Beats me.
Most of the rest of the 85 page annual report seems to be comprised primarily of (seemingly) randomly selected Tech Industry buzz words.
Edge Computing. Serverless. Heck, “5G” is mentioned 26 times alone.
And there’s a whole page dedicated to the “Open3D” 3D engine that shipped without Linux support — and Linux itself is not even mentioned once within that page of text in the report.
Some of that is tangentially related to Linux. Some of it is not. It’s pretty all over the map.
What is The Linux Foundation… for?
Let’s be honest. Regardless of what you think of the various initiatives laid out in their 2021 annual report… The Linux Foundation is, without any doubt, absolutely not focused on Linux.
That much is obvious.
If you told me to read this annual report, and then give you a simple sentence that defined what The Linux Foundation seems to be about… I would write something like this:
“The Linux Foundation is dedicated to social justice activism, climate change, and vaccine passports… while occasionally using Open Source software.”
Do they still do Linux related stuff? Yes. Yes, they do. Just not much. And nowhere near as much as they do with non-Linux-y stuff.
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With so much money you can make gaming on Linux (without obstacles) a reality in 1 year... And Linux just by the fact that it exists made more for equity and justice then any other corporation already. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, black or white - Linux works the same.
Because ethics is a key reason to use Linux... I find facts such as these, and the choosing to discriminate entry to conferences to people based off their politics... to be incredibly concerning. Does this mean FreeBSD (or one of the BSDs) is the answer for a truly free and ethical operating system? Or is the Linux Foundation's obvious political and newfound corporate bias not an ethnical issue for the user? Questions to be pondered.