Tuesday, January 30, 2007

OSDL and FSG merge to create the Linux Foundation

Okay, I really like the name "The Linux Foundation". It reminds me of Knight Rider's Foundation for Law and Government, or maybe Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. It just sounds cool. And Important. Well, I don't know if it is really *that* important overall, but it will serve a necessary function in the overall Linux ecosystem. The Foundation's goal will be to promote, protect, and standardize Linux. Promotion mostly means marketing and awareness of Linux's existing capabilities, although I believe over time it will also include identifying gaps in capabilities which are inhibiting Linux adoption. Protection is an obvious and easy reference to the education of the legal impacts of Linux and Open Source, but also has a strong focus on Licensing and patents/intellectual property protection. And standardization refers to the existing LSB efforts which will likely continue to grow (slowly) over time. LSB standardization is a slow process and technically challenging, as well as limited by adoption by distros based on their willingness to claim the latest and greatest level of support.

Overall, in some ways it looks like the little fish is trying to swallow the big fish. FSG had a pretty small budget and a pretty limited scope. OSDL had a huge budget and a huge scope. But FSG tackled a small, hard, well defined set of problems. OSDL tried to tackle a very large, nearly unbounded set of problems. The merging of the two extremes should be good for both groups. Both are going through a little bit of culture shock, I think but all seem to be working hard to find a good working balance. I think overall this will work out for the best for Linux and Open Source in general.

The most interesting thing was a recent meeting in Palo Alto which brought together a few community members from the Linux kernel community, a bunch of vendors, and several large, corporate end users. The culture clash was apparent, even though all were on their best behaviors. But the goal was to bridge those culture gaps, make the groups aware of each others pain points, and ultimately lead to a positive working arrangement between the extremes. We'll see how that works out over time, but the first painful little step has been taken. I'm curious to see how this meeting of the extreme poles of Linux community and end users works out over time. I have high hopes, though.

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