IBM Clarifies Stance On Developers Working On Open-Source Projects In Off-Hours

Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software on 22 April 2021 at 01:00 PM EDT. 60 Comments
Earlier this week was a surprising Linux kernel networking commit that removed an IBM engineer as one of the driver maintainers for the IBM Power SR-IOV Virtual NIC driver. Seemingly at issue with this VNIC driver work was the developer using his personal email address in working on the driver in his off-hours. IBM has now clarified their stance on such work.

The VNIC maintainer updating patch yielded much attention for carrying the following quoted message, "As an IBM employee, you are not allowed to use your gmail account to work in any way on VNIC. You are not allowed to use your personal email account as a "hobby". You are an IBM employee 100% of the time. Please remove yourself completely from the maintainers file. I grant you a 1 time exception on contributions to VNIC to make this change."

IBM has now reached out to Phoronix to provide further comment. They shared that contrary to the Git commit, "IBM promotes and encourages engagement in the Linux open source community regardless whether an IBM email ID or a personal email ID is used."

When asked about this specific situation that portrays the direct opposite of their communication, Todd Moore, VP Open Technology at IBM explained: "We respect our developer's need to be individuals, and their open source code contributed under a personal ID represents them and their resume. This was a one off disagreement that should not have gone public as there are internal guidelines to resolve it. Often our contributors will have a personal GitHub ID and an IBM GitHub ID. We use tooling to track contributions under both IDs to ensure everyone gets credit towards our recognition program. We value and encourage contribution whether it be code, code reviews, documentation, issue triage, or advocacy as part of their careers or their own time."

IBM encourages those interested in their work on open-source to visit their IBM Open-Source Enterprise page.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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