New Linux Foundation Founded
The two consortia dedicated to the advancement of Linux - the Open Source Development Labs and the Free Standards Group - 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.
The Linux Foundation, which continues to sponsor the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds, employs a shared resources strategy - much like open source development itself - to collaborate on platform development while enhancing the Linux market for end users, the community, developers and industry.
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 the openness, freedom of choice and technical superiority inherent in open source software.
The Linux Foundation does not build Linux, nor does it compete with existing Linux companies. Rather it fosters the growth of Linux by focusing on the following areas:
- Protecting Linux by Sponsoring Key Linux Developers and Providing Legal Services - It's vitally important that Linux creator Linus Torvalds and other key kernel developers remain independent. The Linux Foundation sponsors them so they can work full time on improving Linux. The Linux Foundation also manages the Linux trademark and offers developers legal intellectual property protection through such initiatives as the Open Source as Prior Art project, the Patent Commons, and sponsorship of the Linux Legal Defense Fund.
- Standardizing Linux and Improving it as a Platform for Software Development - A platform is only as strong as the applications that support it. The Linux Foundation offers application developers standardization services and support that make Linux an attractive target for their development efforts. These include the Linux Standard Base and the Linux Developer Network. All major Linux distributions comply with the LSB.
- Providing a Neutral Forum for Collaboration and Promotion - The Linux Foundation serves as a neutral spokesperson to advance the interests of Linux and respond with authority to competitors' attacks. It also fosters 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.
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