Open Source is embedded in every software application you touch today. It’s impossible to build a large scale application without it. The real question is, what’s the story behind that component, application, or framework you just downloaded? Not the specs. Not the functionality. The real story: “Who wrote the code? What is their backstory? What led them to the Open Source community?”
From the Linux Foundation office in New York City, welcome to "The Untold Stories of Open Source". Each week we explore the people who are supporting Open Source projects, how they became involved with it, and the problems they faced along the way.
The Story Behind PyTorch and the Community Who Maintains It, with Soumith Chintala
There’s no need to bury the lead here. Soumith Chintala is the central figure in a major transition in the world of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. He works at Meta where he’s the manager of PyTorch, an open source machine learning framework that was recently transferred to the Linux Foundation. PyTorch enables ML engineers to deploy new AI models in minutes rather than weeks.
Soumith has been a community leader for the past decade, but he was a self-described introvert when he was growing up in Hyderabad. He is a researcher with over 52,000 citations and an h-index of 29 in Machine Learning, computer vision, and robotics, while focusing on high-risk research. From Marvel movies to memes, people such as Soumith are admired in modern culture. But this wasn’t the case in the 1990s when being a geek was still outside the norm.
Managing an Open Source Program Office, with Ashley Wolf, GitHub
It’s a consistent pattern at most companies: High-value data and corporate memory are stored in isolated channels on disparate systems. Old processes are protected by those who have been there the longest. The problem is, the DNA of the company becomes lost as long-time employees depart, making it difficult for new hires to find what is available, why decisions were made, and who they can look to for answers.
Michael Lewis talks about this in his podcast, “Against the Rules” in the series “Six Levels Down”. When he was looking for someone who actually understood how the insurance industry processes claims and what all the obfuscated code numbers meant, and how doctors actually get claims paid, he had to go six levels deep, to an overworked expert, toiling away down in the hospital basement. She actually knew what all that gobble-di-goop meant.
Ashley Wolf, Open Source Program Office Lead at GitHub, has confronted this dilemma throughout her career. Not only can there be missing documentation for existing processes, there is pushback when it came to phasing out outdated processes and tooling.
Mentioned in this Episode
Against the Rules: Six Levels Down, with Michael LewisAshley Wolf, Open Source Program Office Lead, GitHub
Is the finance industry using open source? Yes. Yes it is!, with Gabriele Columbro
With major software vulnerabilities popping up on what seems like a weekly basis and government regulation imminent when it comes to providing a software bill of materials for any application sold to the United States government, collaboration on open source security is no longer optional.
Large enterprises have come to realize that it's better to work together, to find common solutions rather than go it alone. Some financial service companies have been hesitant to embrace the inevitable move to open source. They perceive it to be more of a risk than a reward.
The promise of innovation through collaboration hasn't been enough to change that perception. Even proven ROI hasn't done the trick. So what's the answer how do we reach financial institutions that are holding out, how do we help them make the transition?
Become a Hybrid in the Open Source Community, with Ana Jiménez
“I usually say that I’m a hybrid,” Ana Jiménez says. In this context what does that even mean, what is a hybrid? According to the Oxford Language Dictionary, a hybrid is “a word formed from elements taken from different languages, for example television ( tele- from Greek, vision from Latin).” If we use that as our definition, Ana Jiménez Santamaria has a good reason to call herself a hybrid; she can speak the language of the business world as well as that of the developer domain.
Ana holds a master’s degree in data science and a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Her journey to open source began at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Móstoles (MO’-stoeles), Spain on the southwest outskirts of Madrid. In 2017 she spent a year at the University of California, Riverside studying consumer behavior before returning home to Móstoles to get her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Master’s Degree in Data Science.
When it comes to getting visibility for their work, most engineers working on open-source projects aren’t thinking about the science of human behavior or marketing. They want to address a problem, apply their knowledge to create the technology, and create something useful for themselves. Ana understands that because it was something she did at the beginning of her career.
Waiting for the SBOM to Drop, with Allan Friedman
Allan Friedman was one of the first, if not THE first person to talk with me about the need for a mandatory software bill of materials to be attached to all software back in 2017 when he was Director of Cybersecurity Initiatives for the US Department of National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
In today’s show we’ll do a deep dive with Allan, tracing his path from doing economic research at Harvard in the early 2000s, to becoming the country’s most recognized advocate on SBOM legislation as the current Senior Advisor and Strategist for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the United States Government.
LFNetworking and Edge Computing, with Arpit Joshipura
Ahmedabad is the largest city in the state of Gujarat (goo jer raht) in western India. It has a population of over eight million people. This is where Arpit Joshipura, GM of LFNetworking at the Linux Foundation, was born and raised. The city of Ahmedabad is divided into two major sections, dissected by the Sabarmati River. The east side is what’s considered the “old” city, while the west side houses educational institutions such as Gujarat University, M.G. Science Institute, Government Polytechnic, and St. Xavier’s College, where Arpit received a bachelor’s degree in engineering in the late 1980s.
In 1989, he moved to North Carolina to study Computer Engineering and Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunication. His master's thesis was in TCP IP. Think about that. There wasn’t public email yet. No cellphones. There was no public connectivity to the DoD DARPA systems. The industry that was to become a lifelong passion for Arpit was on the cusp of being invented.
I tell people, you have to like what you do and you have to do what you like. These days, people are like, “Oh, I will only do what I like.” Well, that's not what it is. If something is important and it's going to change the world, do it and you better like it. So that's the flexibility part of the new generation that we had 30 years ago.
Arpit has now been in the networking industry for over 30 years. In the technology field, that’s several lifetimes. What has kept him fascinated with network engineering for so long?
A New Favorite In My Feed!
Such a unique and interesting take on the world of open source! I love hearing the guests’ stories, and I can say without a doubt that I learn something new each time I tune in. Cannot recommend this show enough!
Entertaining and Compelling!
Pretty entertaining while also informative. Great to put some faces and stories behind some popular open source projects out there. Excited to see where this goes!