Two leading consortia dedicated to the advancement of Linux — the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) and the Free Standards Group (FSG) — have announced that they have signed an agreement to merge and form The Linux Foundation. The new organization accelerates the growth of Linux by providing a comprehensive set of services to compete effectively with closed platforms.
Founding platinum members of the Linux Foundation include Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Intel, NEC, Novell, and Oracle. Jim Zemlin, former executive director of the Free Standards Group, leads The Linux Foundation. Other members of the new organization include every major company in the Linux industry, including Red Hat, as well as numerous community groups, universities and industry end users.
“Computing is entering a world dominated by two platforms: Linux and Windows. While being managed under one roof has given Windows some consistency, Linux offers freedom of choice, customization and flexibility without forcing customers into vendor lock-in,” said Zemlin. “The Linux Foundation helps in the next stage of Linux growth by organizing the diverse companies and constituencies of the Linux ecosystem to promote, protect, and standardize Linux.”
Since OSDL and the FSG were each formed more than six years ago, Linux has grown significantly in server, desktop, and embedded usage around the world. Moreover, the open source model has transformed development by providing faster demand-side learning, higher quality, better security, shorter development cycles, and lower prices than closed platform development models. OSDL and the FSG were important forces behind open source adoption and played key roles in preventing fragmentation of the Linux market.
For Linux to remain open and attain the greatest ubiquity possible, important services must be provided, including legal protection, standardization, promotion and collaboration. Successful proprietary software companies, for instance, do several important things well: backwards compatibility, promotion, interoperability, developer support, and more. In the voluntary and distributed world of Linux development, the industry continues to successfully use the consortia model to rapidly improve these value attributes for Linux. The Linux Foundation has been founded to help close the gap between open source and proprietary platforms, while sustaining what it says are the openness, freedom of choice and technical superiority inherent in open source software.
The Linux Foundation will foster the growth of Linux by focusing on the following areas:
Sponsoring key Linux developers and providing legal services to them so that they and can work full time on improving Linux.
Standardizing Linux and improving it as a platform for software development, including through the Linux Standard Base (LSB) and the Linux Developer Network.
Providing a neutral forum for collaboration and promotion, by responding with authority to competitors’ attacks and fostering innovation by hosting collaboration events among the Linux technical community, application developers, industry and end users to solve pressing issues facing the Linux ecosystem in such areas as desktop interfaces, accessibility, printing, application packaging, and many others.
The merger is pending ratification by the two organizations’ respective memberships and is expected to be completed in early February.