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OSDL Wants To Be Linux' Center of Gravity

OSDL Wants To Be Linux' Center of Gravity

The Open Source Development Lab (OSDL), which we called OSF 2 when it first got organized three years ago now, took a dramatic step this week on the road to becoming just that by going and hiring the father of Linux, Linus Torvalds, away from poor struggling Transmeta.

Brilliant move actually.

Starting July 1 Torvalds is going to be OSDL's first Fellow and will be able to concentrate on Linux instead of dividing his time and feeling guilty about giving Transmeta short shrift. As an OSDL Fellow, Torvalds' job will continue to be what it's been, but he'll work on Linux full-time. He's currently got the 2.6 kernel coming out.

Transmeta, by way of support and perhaps to keep tabs on a guy it would like to have back someday, has joined OSDL as a paying member. Officially he's on a leave of absence from the chipmaker, but OSDL expects to fully employ him for a good long time.

OSDL's recently appointed CEO Stuart Cohen wants the consortium, which has had trouble finding itself a useful purpose, to become "the center of gravity for Linux," a haven for the developer, the vendor and the end user. In addition to Torvalds, Cohen has also hired OSDL a director of business development, one Brian Grega, who used to have a similar job at MontaVista Software until last fall when he left. At OSDL he's supposed to touch base with all its constituents and recruit some more user members. He'll be stationed in the Bay Area.

Recruiting Torvalds himself is kinda ironic considering OSDL's initial specification work didn't go down any too smoothly with the keepers of the Linux flame. Too heavy-handed on the part of too few suits, it says looking back and swearing it's learned its lesson. Torvalds' presence, though no guarantee, should go a long ways to smoothing the road ahead in getting open source community acceptance. However, Cohen is intent on getting OSDL to contribute more code, and that means more code coming from the big companies.

Torvalds, by the way, is supposed to fully understand that he's apotheosizing OSDL by signing on.

OSDL is still working on a way of maybe getting maintainer input early in the requirements process, but Cohen is overhauling the process and says that - among other things - it will be starting up a customer advisory council of 12-15 end-user companies that's supposed to guide OSDL on the business implications of Linux and its enterprise-wide deployment. Cohen is hoping the council, which will contribute to both OSDL's Carrier Grade and Data Center efforts - Cohen says "Linux period" - will have its first meeting at the end of July.

The inspiration for the council apparently dates to when the maintainers revolted over OSDL's Carrier Grade specification and OSDL recruited users like Cisco, Nokia, Ericsson, and Alcatel to pacify things. Obviously since the fracas with the maintainers, OSDL has reportedly broadened the base from which it's taking requirements.

OSDL is also going to start up working groups on both the technical side and marketing, but mainly technical, to focus on Japan's unique requirements, sorta mini versions of the main technical and marketing working groups. The consortium already has a data center in Yokohama.

OSDL is backed by CA, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Intel, and NEC.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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