The Linux Foundation announced an initiative involving major tech companies that will support open source code that underpins the Internet, such as OpenSSL.
The Core Infrastructure Initiative will include companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Cisco Systems, Dell, Fujitsu and Intel among others. These companies have agreed to provide $100,000 a year for a minimum of three years to strengthen open source software, code that can be modified by and used by individuals and companies for free.
"I thought, 'Where did we go wrong?'" said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. "There are numerous open source projects that are not in line with the same kind of support that supports Linux."
While the sum may seem paltry compared to the billions these companies generate in revenues annually, it is still sizable for developers who work on open source software, mostly for free and on their own time.
The first project for the initiative will be the strengthening of OpenSSL, which had major security vulnerabilities brought to the fore by Google and Finnish security firm Codenomicon. OpenSSL is used by so many sites that it has become the de facto spine of the Internet, and news of the Heartbleed security breach sent waves of panic across the Internet.
ModSSL, PGP and OpenCryptolab are other projects the initiative might consider supporting.
Zemlin said the foundation was only a place to hold the money and that members will decide how best to utilize it. He hopes that members will meet frequently to decide on new priorities and take decisions proactively.
Zemlin said he hopes the initiative will support encryption experts working on open source software, the same way the foundation was started to help Linux's creator Linus Torvalds work solely on the open source operating system.
The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit group that advocates for the growth of Linux and collaborative software development.