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LINE as Apache Software Foundation’s Silver sponsor

We at the Open Source Program Office TF are finding many ways of cultivating a culture where LINE engineers and open-source ecosystems come together in a close relationship. In this post, we would like to highlight one of those many efforts: How LINE became a Silver Sponsor for the Apache Software Foundation.


About the Apache Software Foundation

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is an American nonprofit organization founded in 1999 for the purpose of providing resources and support for open-source project development. While originally established for the development of the Apache HTTP server, today the organization supports the development of over 350 open-source projects. The ASF promotes the Apache Way as a guiding principal for open-source development. The Apache Way has influenced the operation of many open-source projects by focusing on values such as participation, cooperation, open communication, decision-making, accountability, independence, and so on.


What open-source projects need to be sustainable

Even those who are not particularly knowledgeable about open-source software are highly dependent on open source in this day and age. The reason why is because many of the software that we use today are based on open-source projects. Open-source maintainers keep on developing their projects under the pressure that their work is affecting the daily lives of many people.

An open source license does not shift accountability unto an individual. Apache License 2.0 states that users must agree to accept a project as how its creators and contributors have published it. Even if you don’t remember agreeing to such terms, any time you use an open-source project with Apache License 2.0, you’re obliged to agree to those terms. Most open-source licenses include a disclaimer of warranty clause. These exist to prevent any accountability being shifted unto an individual. Nevertheless, open-source maintainers do their utmost to solve any issues that the project may have.

It’s uncommon to see any users financially contributing to an open-source project or its developers. According to a survey in this 2021 article, 46% of open-source maintainers are working without any kind of compensation. Even the most popular open-source projects are often found to have very few people maintaining them with virtually no pay, and only until after a serious security vulnerability has occurred. One of the more recent examples would be the Log4j project, which has been marred with the Log4shell vulnerability. Many were shocked to hear that the project’s maintainers were patching the vulnerabilities by working up to 22 hours with no pay. At this point, it seems obvious that for a more stable open-source ecosystem, there needs to be a better alternative to having individual maintainers shouldering all the burden.


Why we decided to sponsor the Apache Software Foundation

LINE’s services typically deal with large traffic and consider stability among the top priorities. As such, LINE heavily relies on large-scale open-source projects, especially those in the care of the Apache Software Foundation. Just take a look at some of the sessions from LINE DEVELOPER DAY 2021.

All LINE open-source projects are under Apache License 2.0, because we at LINE agree with ASF’s Apache Way. Based on this philosophy, we are making many efforts to co-exist with the community, and to support community-driven development.

Many major IT companies are registered sponsors of the ASF, but there aren’t many Asian companies so far. Currently, LINE is the only Japanese company to sponsor the ASF. We hope that our participation encourages more companies and brings awareness about how corporations should share the responsibilities of open-source development by getting involved.


LINE’s open-source contributions so far

There are many LINE services that are using open source. As an active member of the open-source community ourselves, we also feel the responsibility of maintaining this large ecosystem. The Open Source Program Office TF plans to continue LINE’s co-existence in the open-source ecosystem as follows.


Open source contributions

LINE engineers are constantly publishing in-house projects as open source, and we are regularly hosting and improving our in-house open-source contribution events. Not only are we focusing on LINE’s own open-source projects, but we are also cultivating a culture that encourages our engineers to contribute to open-source projects outside of the company.

According to last year’s data, a total of 95 engineers have made over 10 contributions, and 268 engineers have made at least one contribution.

Recent contributions to ASF projects (excluding minor ones) are as follows.

Apache HBaseHBASE-25594graceful_stop.sh fails to unload regions when ran at localhost
Apache HadoopHDFS-13975TestBalancer#testMaxIterationTime fails sporadically
Apache HadoopHDFS-15762TestMultipleNNPortQOP#testMultipleNNPortOverwriteDownStream fails intermittently
Apache KafkaKAFKA-9685Solve Set concatenation perf issue in AclAuthorizer
Apache ZeppelinZEPPELIN-5406Add detailed explanation for Impersonate on LDAP & Kerberized environments.



LINE is currently a sponsor of the five open-source organizations below.

Open-source foundations and sponsorshipsBeginning of sponsorship
Apache Software FoundationMarch, 2022
PrettierJanuary, 2022
BootstrapJune, 2021
Vue.jsApril, 2021
HuskyMarch, 2021


For a better open-source culture

The Open Source Program Office TF continues its work to put systems in place and cultivate a company culture that encourages LINE engineers to contribute to open-source projects. Currently, we’re looking into company policies to check if any of them may hinder open-source contribution. We hope this sponsorship leads to more active open-source contribution and even better relations with the open-source community.