06.08.19

Microsoft and Proprietary Software Vendors a Financial Boon for the Linux Foundation, But at What Cost?

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The following figures/chart was released two days ago

A salary chart for Zemlin PAC

Summary: The Linux Foundation is thriving financially, but the sources of income are diversified to the point where the Linux Foundation is actually funded by foes of Linux, defeating the very purpose or direction of such a nonprofit foundation (led by self-serving millionaires who don’t use GNU/Linux)

THIS past week we got a lot of attention and received unprecedented traffic levels partly because of our Linux Foundation coverage. Incidentally, only days ago ProPublica released new tax filings in huge quantities, including a new(er) one from the Linux Foundation. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. In ProPublica’s own words (it is one of my favourite sites):

On Thursday, we launched a new feature for our Nonprofit Explorer database: The ability to search the full text of nearly 3 million electronically filed nonprofit tax filings sent to the IRS since 2011.

Nonprofit Explorer already lets researchers, reporters and the general public search for tax information from more than 1.8 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, as well as allowing users to search for the names of key employees and directors of organizations.

Now, users of our free database can dig deep and search for text that appears anywhere in a nonprofit’s tax records, as long as those records were filed digitally — which according to the IRS covers about two-thirds of nonprofit tax filings in recent years.

How can this be useful to you? For one, this feature lets you find organizations that gave grants to other nonprofits. Any nonprofit that gives grants to another must list those grants on its tax forms — meaning that you can research a nonprofit’s funding by using our search. A search for “ProPublica,” for example, will bring up dozens of foundations that have given us grants to fund our reporting (as well as a few filings that reference Nonprofit Explorer itself).

Among the files published we have the Free Software Foundation’s (FSF) finances. It’s a relatively old form. The salary of the FSF’s Executive Director is approximately 7 times lower than what Jim Zemlin pays himself at his PAC, but we’ll come to that in a moment (it’s not comparable in terms of the years and matching documents don’t exist in the public domain).

“Some people became very rich in this whole process, notably Zemlin and his ‘circle’. Now they’re all millionaires.”ProPublica has made it difficult if not impossible to fetch the filings as PDF files. Hopefully their copies of the files won’t go offline (some day they will; it’s inevitable). What these still show us is the great disparity in the “Linux” world; It pays to be Linus Torvalds, but it pays even more to be Jim Zemlin. The latter did not create anything, but he rides the coattails of the former to make a household income of about a million bucks a year (and they have just one child). Today’s business model at this PAC is that of a marketing company. They totally behave like one.

Calling this PAC “naive” would be an understatement (as the word implies merely misplaced intentions). It’s greedy, corruptible and bribed, not just infiltrated. Some people became very rich in this whole process, notably Zemlin and his ‘circle’. Now they’re all millionaires. They ‘sold’ Linux to billionaires. To the likes of Microsoft. It’s very cheap too (a few millions, taking Microsoft perhaps minutes to earn). Microsoft wants and will always try to be “boss” of everything, even GNU/Linux. The PAC was a vulnerability, not a strength, as it’s a dubious, profit-driven ‘nonprofit’ that could be easily bought by anyone over the past 5 years (no community members at the Board, seats are virtually for sale).

Microsoft nowadays does to this PAC (the “Linux” Foundation) what it did to Novell and to Nokia. That’s just what happens when people refuse to learn how entryism works and how to counter it. When everything is for sale those who are most financially able (deep pockets) can get anything they want. It’s just a question of price. People at the “Linux” Foundation, who don’t even use Linux themselves, are making about half a million bucks a year by saying “Linux!” (just saying it is enough)

“Microsoft nowadays does to this PAC (the “Linux” Foundation) what it did to Novell and to Nokia.”In our view, Zemlin is to Torvalds what Don King was to Mike Tyson and it’s only getting yet worse over time. Torvalds said that Linux was “just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu”; well, maybe It won’t be anything professional like GNU, but it will be something professional like WSL inside Vista 10. Microsoft does the versioning now. It even gets to decide whether to sign Linux or not for ‘secure boot’ (or which distributions are ‘safe’ to run, which ones to block). I recently spoke to FSF people, including RMS, about the issue (notably Microsoft’s threat to the direction of this PAC); one main barrier, however, is the perceived rift. I’m not sure FSF would mind if the PAC just sort of went away…

According to the more/most recent publication from ProPublica, the PAC grew its income from $61,085,552 to $81,616,265 in just one year (between 2016 and 2017). No reporting since 2017, it seems, but it’s probably well over $100 million by now (nothing for 2018, at least now, and in 2017 it’s limited as explained here: “Extracted filing data is not available for this tax period, but Form 990 documents are available for download.”).

“It’s like it totally monopolised GNU/Linux, with a budget two orders of magnitude greater than the FSF’s.”Can’t they hire a few GNU/Linux journalists? At $100 per article they can afford to do a million articles per year with this kind of budget. We’re going to say more about this in our next post.

Zemlin increased his salary to $700,000+, but he cannot offer to employ a handful of writers? Really?!?!

There are 12 nonprofit organisations associated with Linux, but Zemlin’s PAC is a lot bigger than all of them combined. It’s like it totally monopolised GNU/Linux, with a budget two orders of magnitude greater than the FSF’s.

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