IBM To Kernel Maintainer: "You Are An IBM Employee 100% Of The Time"
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 20 April 2021 at 05:50 AM EDT. 116 Comments
LINUX KERNEL --
It's fairly common that many longtime Linux kernel developers use their personal email addresses for signing off on kernel patches or dealing with other patch work, especially when they are engaging with kernel development in their personal time too and occasionally jumping between employers over time while still sticking to interacting with the upstream kernel community, etc. There are also understandably some companies that mandate the use of their corporate email addresses for their official work/patches while now IBM seems to be taking things one step to the extreme.

An IBM employee was listed as one of the maintainers to the IBM Power SR-IOV Virtual NIC driver for the upstream Linux kernel alongside several other IBM engineers. Except in this case the employee was listed as a maintainer with his Gmail address.

That led to this commit hitting the networking subsystem's Git tree last night and on its way to mainline:
I am making this change again since I received the following instruction.

"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."

The "you are an IBM employee 100% of the time" is surely a bit awkward and seemingly denying what a developer can work on in his off-hours, especially when it comes to just improving the company's own open-source driver... It seems in this case it may be a manager over reacting or so. It will be interesting to see how this plays out... Pretty strange considering IBM now owns Red Hat and how IBM has with time spent billions of dollars on Linux.

Update (22 April): IBM Clarifies Stance On Developers Working On Open-Source Projects In Off-Hours
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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