Josh Berkus

Description of the candidate: 

Josh Berkus has been involved with open source for 25 years, including participating in Linux, PostgreSQL, Perl, OpenOffice, Django, MySQL, CouchDB, Docker, Kubernetes, and multiple other communities. Within OSI, Josh has been a contributing member of License Review since 2003, regularly contributing a developer perspective to reviews of submitted licenses. He works for the Red Hat Open Source Program Office, where he supports and administers multiple open source projects and interfaces with many OSS-supporting companies and foundations, including guiding teams and partners in launching open source efforts.

Additionally, Josh has accumulated a significant amount of nonprofit experience. He has been a fundraiser for the San Francisco Opera, during which time he was a member of Development Executives Rountable and other professional fundraising organizations. He is the co-chair of the Contributor Strategy TAG in the Cloud Native Computing foundation, and has a history of collaboration with the Linux Foundation and the Open Infra Foundation. Josh is also a former board member and treasurer of Software In The Public Interest, where he helped with the final transfer of ownership of the domain to the OSI.

Josh sits on the proposal review committee for several software conferences, is a well-known public speaker at many tech events, and spoke at the State of the Source Summit about database licensing.

How will you contribute to the board:

I am running for the board in order to do two things: modernize License Review, and support our new Executive director in expanding the organization.

License Review has discussed adopting more current tooling that allows for line-item markup and preservation of license change history for years. As a member of the board, I'll be in a position to make adoption of new tooling actually happen. It is past time for this to change.

OSI's new ED needs to expand the mission of OSI and raise funds and build awareness to sustain that expanded scope. I will be able to use my experience with nonprofit organizations, marketing, and fundraising to support the ED in this, both through direct help and advice, and through helping other board members understand needs and practices of nonprofits, both inside and outside tech.

Why you should be elected:

The main reason to vote for me is that you want the OSI to accomplish what I want to accomplish. If you feel that the OSI should continue its trajectory towards becoming a more professional and well-respected nonprofit organization, elect me to help with that. If you want to modernize License Review, that will be my remit as a board member.

I'm also a candidate who is good at understanding multiple perspectives. I've worked both in tech and outside it, both for big companies and as an independent developer. I'm not an attorney, but I "speak lawyer". I've visited open source contributors around the world, and still collaborate with folks from many countries and dozens of open source communities. As a board member, I will have the duty to "represent the worldwide Open Source communities" and plan to fulfill that.

Type of seat: 


Hello, I have a small set of questions ....

(1) There are two Red Hat employees running for a seat in this election. Did the two of you coordinate your decisions to campaign? Is it appropriate for a single vendor to take multiple seats on a board of eight elected members?

(2) Again, regarding the purpose of Individual board seats. Do you see an Individual board seat as an obligation to represent the voice and priorities of the voters? Or, if elected, will you represent Red Hat's interests? E.g., if your employer wants something from OSI that conflicts with your personal views of the issue, which way would you vote?

(3) You mention refreshing the License Review toolchain. Are you currently involved with that effort? Either way, what can a board member do to affect the toolchain update?

(4) You also say that you want to make OSI "more professional and well-respected." In what ways is it currently not those things? I.e., where are those shortcomings visible (or, if invisible, where are they hidden)?

(5) Your note that your day job is working in the Open Source Program Office on a variety of open-source adoption issues. Are there tasks or goals related to your "contribution"/"why" section (including the question 3 and 4 ones cited above) that you aren't able to work on as part of your OSPO role?

(6) You say the OSI needs to raise funds. Why? What, in your opinion, should the funds raised be used for?

Hey, Nate! Thanks for the questions! (1) We did not coordinate, and it is unlikely that we will both be elected. We work in different divisions of the company. If we do both get elected, we'll need to discuss on the Board whether that's a problem. This could lead to one of us stepping down in favor of the next preferred candidate. (2) I see an individual board seat as an obligation to represent the interests of the world of open source contributors as a whole, as I state above in my bio. If Red Hat needs something from OSI, there are plenty of people at Red Hat that are completely capable of asking for it without needing to go through me. (3) I have been involved in the efforts to create a more modern toolchain for L-R multiple times over the years. One of the reasons that these efforts have failed is that the OSI board has not mandated the use of a specific new workflow. Hence my decision that a new process can only happen if someone on the board -- likely more than one person -- backs it. I am very much hoping that Pamela gets re-elected, which would make this much easier. In other words, we get a new L-R only when we have a plan for a new L-R AND the OSI board says "use this or it doesn't count". (4) The biggest issue here is that, outside of close family, nobody is sure what the OSI even does. Folks point to L-R, but honestly we don't need a well-funded nonprofit to have L-R. The OSI has other activities that is is doing (and even more that it should be or will be doing) but those are not part of its public image at all. Further, I'd argue that OSI is losing respect even as an arbiter of open source licenses, especially among younger developers. All of this is fixable with advocacy of OSI's programs, making more use of paid staff, adopting a workflow and messaging around licensing, and even starting and succeeding at new initiatives that promote an understanding of open source. The prior board worked on this and I'm hoping to continue that work. (5) I don't understand this question. Hopefully my answers to 3/4 covered it. (6) New and existing non-LR intiatives, per above. There really isn't another organization dedicated to open source as a concept, although many support it. For example, expanding education programs beyond attorneys would be a great thing to do, and would require funding. Also, OSI needs funds for those paid staff that are making it a more professional organization.

To promote and protect open source software and communities...

For over 20 years the Open Source Initiative (OSI) has worked to raise awareness and adoption of open source software, and build bridges between open source communities of practice. As a global non-profit, the OSI champions software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition (OSD), and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.

Open source software is made by many people and distributed under an OSD-compliant license which grants all the rights to use, study, change, and share the software in modified and unmodified form. Software freedom is essential to enabling community development of open source software.