Coronavirus wreaking havoc in the tech industry, including FOSS

At FOSS Linux, you may wonder why we are covering the coronavirus and how it relates to Linux and open-source software? Read on for more details.

The recent outbreak of the pneumonia-like illness caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), first detected in the central city of Wuhan in December 2019, is wreaking havoc on day-to-day life in China and it’s citizens. It is also significantly impacting industries worldwide, most importantly, the tech industry.

As of this writing, the WHO reports that there are 75,748 confirmed cases of the coronavirus globally, with over 2,200 deaths reported.

Coronavirus cases as of 20 Feb 2020 - World Health Organization
Coronavirus cases as of 20 Feb 2020 – World Health Organization

Tech powerhouses like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and others have all acknowledged their companies are being impacted by the global outbreak.  Most of this impact is due to disruptions brought on by factory closures and production of computer components, of which China makes the most.  In fact, China leads the world in computer exports.

Computer Exports by Country, 2014 - Wikipedia
Computer Exports by Country, 2014 – Wikipedia

As if the coronavirus, with the deaths, sickness, health fears, and fallout on the tech and other industries it brings, itself is not bad enough, misinformation is adding. To decrease the false rumors, or “infodemic,” the WHO (World Health Organization) hosted a meeting with about a dozen tech giants, including Facebook, Google, Amazon, YouTube, DropBox, Kinsa, and others on how to squash the spread of coronavirus information running rampant on the internet. The companies have already started to implement ideas from the meeting to combat the infodemic, the most significant of which was to spread accurate information to their consumers. The group agreed to meet in person every few months until the coronavirus is under control.

What does the Coronavirus have to do with FOSS?

At FOSS Linux, you may wonder why we are covering the coronavirus and how it relates to Linux and open-source software?

Aside from the apparent effect of the slowdown in components required for Linux to run on,  the coronavirus outbreak directly impacts several products featured in FOSS Linux over the past year.

  • Purism – the brains behind the Librem 5 phones powered by PureOS are the most directly affected by the outbreak, suffering production delays.
  • Dell – the titanic computer manufacturer, has hinted at a possibility of interruption of supplies, which could affect the availability of the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition preloaded with Ubuntu 18.04.
  • System76 – these creators of Pop_OS! 19.10 recently announced their foray into the world of laptop design and manufacturing.  The coronavirus could adversely affect this endeavor.
  • Pine64 – maker of the Pinebook Pro, the affordable laptop which supports most, if not all, Linux distros featured on FOSS Linux also is under threat of production delays.

Stay Informed

FOSS Linux users who want to stay informed of the coronavirus outbreak, and you should, can easily stay informed thanks to an online dashboard created by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering. It pulls data from both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that allows you to see up-to-date information on the coronavirus outbreak, including confirmed cases, recovered patients, and, sadly, deaths.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE
Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE


We hope and pray for a quick end to the coronavirus crisis soon.  In the interim, trust that FOSS Linux will continue to monitor the outbreak and its impact on the tech industry and FOSS community and keep our readers informed. Stay safe.

Travis Rose
Hi, I'm M Travis Rose, a contributor to FOSS Linux. I have over thirty years of experience in the IT arena, at least fifteen of which has been working with Linux. I enjoy converting existing Windows users to the wonderful world of Linux. I guess you could call me a Linux-evangelist. Long live Linux!


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