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Linux Foundation showcases the greater good of open source

Open source is more than something indulged in by techies who love to program – it offers collaboration that transcends cultures to solve real-world problems

The role of open source collaboration was highlighted during a presentation to tie in with the start of the Linux Foundation’s KubeCon and Cloud Native Computing Forum (CNCF) virtual conferences.

Many believe that open source is the future of software development. For instance, in a recent conversation with Computer Weekly, PayPal CTO Sri Shivananda said: “It is impossible for you to hire all the experts in the world. But there are many more people creating software because they have a passion to do it.”

These passionate software developers not only help the wider community by contributing code, but they also help themselves. “You can help others as well as helping yourself,” said Jim Zemlin. executive director of the Linux Foundation.

As an example, Zemlin described how the work on the Open Mainframe project, involving free Cobol programming training, is helping to fill the skills gap resulting from the need, during the Covid-19 pandemic, to update legacy government systems. It is an initiative, supported by IBM, that has helped IBM to grow the number of Cobol and mainframe skills needed to support its clients.

The project, which began in April 2020, has helped to support some US states, which faced temporary challenges when they needed to process a record number of unemployment claims and faced some temporary challenges.

Zemlin highlighted another open source project, OpenEEW, an earthquake early warning system, originally developed by Grillo. Grillo developed EEW systems in Mexico and Chile that have been issuing alerts since March 2018.

Earlier this month, IBM announced that it would play a role in supporting Grillo by adding the OpenEEW earthquake technology into the Call for Code deployment pipeline supported by the Linux Foundation.

IBM said it has deployed a set of six of Grillo’s earthquake sensor hardware and is conducting tests in Puerto Rico, complementing Grillo’s tools with a new Node-RED dashboard to visualise readings. IBM said it was extending a Docker software version of the detection component that can be deployed to Kubernetes and Red Hat OpenShift on the IBM Cloud.

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At the start of the conference, Berlin-based online fashion retailer Zalando was recognised for its contribution to the Kubernetes ecosystem. The retailer has provided contributions to Kubernetes, and created and maintained a number of open source projects to expand the ecosystem. These include Skipper, Zalando’s Kubernetes Ingress proxy and HTTP router; Postgres Operator, an operator to run PostgreSQL on Kubernetes; kube-metrics-adapter, which uses custom metrics for autoscaling as well as an ingress controller for AWS.

Henning Jacobs, senior principal engineer at Zalando, said: “Zalando’s need to massively scale led us on a cloud-native journey that has ultimately made our developers happier and enabled us to grow with customer demand. The Kubernetes and cloud-native community has been such a valuable resource for us that we are dedicated to actively continuing giving back in any way we can.”

A key aspect about open source is that it represents a community of software developers who are able to collaborate across the globe in a way that enables sophisticated software products to be built and maintained.

During the event, a number of individual developers were recognised for their contribution to the Jaeger project, which was originally submitted by Uber Engineering in 2015. The project, which has more than 1,700 contributors, is an open source distributing tracing tool for microservices.

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