While laying off most of its technical staff, Twitter’s new owner and CEO, Elon Musk, appears to have dropped support for its open source efforts.

Like most modern software companies, Twitter relies on open source programs; it runs on CentOS 7, which is due to end of life in June 2024. Therefore, Twitter’s original plan was to migrate to CentOS Stream. But given the current situation, it seems that Twitter has no one left to promote this operating system migration.

And Twitter’s reliance on open source software extends far beyond its underlying operating system. Will Norris, Twitter’s former head of open source, said in an interview with ZDNet that he had detailed discussions with then-Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal about improving Twitter’s investment in key open source projects.

When I joined, there were already many large modernization efforts underway, with large open source components. The Pants build system is being replaced by Bazel, and work is underway to replace Apache Aurora and Mesos with Kubernetes. Also, we’re already one of the biggest users of Apache Kafka, Hadoop, and Scala. We also have a custom fork of the JVM that we hope will eventually be open sourced. There’s a lot of amazing work going on, and they’ve managed to hire really good people from these communities to work on these projects.

Then this year these twists happened:-\

First, Musk began to acquire Twitter on and off. So before seeing a clear path forward, Twitter executives chose to freeze its open source plans and investments; but ultimately, Musk fired all executives. Soon, most of the developers were also fired. Today, more than half of Twitter’s employees have either been fired or left.

“Most of the key people working on open source at Twitter have left. All the engineers who worked with me on open source have left,” Norris noted.he thinks,What this means for Twitter:

In the short term, there may not be much open source work planned. It was relatively easy for Twitter to switch back to being just a consumer of open source without making any meaningful contributions; many companies do that anyway, and they can continue to use CentOS, Scala, Kafka, and others as before. All software. For projects that are in the process of migrating, such as Bazel and Kubernetes, stopping can be more painful, but it depends on what state things are.I had toImagine all the focus is on just keeping the service running and adding whatever product changes Musk wants.

Current Twitter employees revealed that all they can do right now is “keep the wheels turning.” And said that the real reason for the delay in the launch of Twitter’s $8 a month Blue V authentication service is not just because it is abused by fake accounts, but because developers have not been able to automate the prevention of such abuse.

In the long term,Norris Think Twitter has become irrelevant in the open source community. “They’ve lost all credibility as a serious engineering organization, I don’t care how you call yourself ‘hardcore’. Open source communities are built on relationships and trust, and now Twitter has nothing to do with those groups. They’ve lost any ability to meaningfully participate in these communities.”

However, there is one looming issue: Twitter’s own open source projects. Norris said:

Many of them are no longer actively maintained (which is its own issue), but they are very popular, especially in the Scala world (Finagle, Twemoji, Scalding, and Algebird). Twitter has processes in place for keeping some of these open source projects (like Finagle) in sync with internal copies of the code, but none of these are fully automated. I very much doubt anyone is left to do the work. What about external users of these projects, including companies like ING Bank, Pinterest, and SoundCloud?

Furthermore, Norris pointed outhttps://github.com/twitter Project maintenance in is going to get weird. Because Twitter has an internal system for managing its presence on GitHub. It allows Twitter employees to register their own GitHub accounts to access their Twitter open source projects. It used to be that when someone left the company their access would stay, but they would go from being a member of the Twitter organization on GitHub to being an external collaborator.

Yet even before Musk took over, Twitter sometimes didn’t do a good job of stripping developers who left the company. In August 2022, an employee still had access to Twitter’s GitHub and source code 18 months after leaving the company. Twitter fixed the issue earlier this year, but the work wasn’t officially complete. As a result, Norris said, “Some maintainers have left the Twitter project years ago, and there may still be interested people who continue to visit.”

Of course, those who have been recently fired or resigned, and “those who are most aware of the remaining active projects, have almost certainly had their access removed”. Ex-Twitter employees from months or even years ago will likely still have code access, and employees who know who should have code access but have been fired recently will no longer be responsible for solving problems.

As for Twitter’s own open source projects like Finagle, Norris doesn’t expect Twitter to do anything to continue maintaining them, at least not to the same level as before. So, from a realistic standpoint, all of these projects may need to fork and move to a new place, but that would be a messy process and potentially very disruptive.

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