This remark seems supported by another comments of Sobel's, in which he says that the transfer "was an internal discussion that began in our company months ago. This was not the result of being approached with an offer to buy this obviously desirable URL."
Since the timing shows that this decision was made before the announcement of Scott L. Kauffman's appointment as SourceForge's CEO, presumably it was made by the company's board of directors.
But, in the end, all that can be said for sure is that SourceForge decided to relieve itself of Linux.com, and chose to do so in a way that showed some responsibility to the community. Sobel states that there were "several people who might be best suited to work together with on this, and the Linux Foundation was our clear choice."
Another mostly unanswered question is exactly how Linux.com will be used in the future. The Linux Foundation has added a page it calls IdeaForge on which visitors can suggest how to use the URL and vote on other suggestions.
"Rather than just taking over the old Linux.com site, what we're doing for the next couple of months is actually asking people in the Linux industry and the Linux community to come to Linux.com and tell us what they want to see," Zemlin explains. "Hopefully, in a couple of months, we'll have a good idea about how to use this asset of Linux in the best way to serve everyone."
So far, the suggestions include hardware and job directories, video how-tos, a social network, GNU/Linux success stories, and an online book store, but not a news site like the SourceForge Linux.com.
During this transition as well as afterwards, Zemlin adds, "We're going to run the site, and they're going to help us sustain the site through selling advertising."
Still, amid such questions, a few answers have become clearer with the announcement. The Linux Developer Network, the Linux Foundation's own news site, and the Foundation's video site will likely be merged or linked with Linux.com, according to Amanda McPherson, vice president, marketing and developer programs at the Foundation. All the sites will likely come under the editorial direction of community manager Brian Proffitt, and McPherson hopes to attract former Linux.com staff and contractors for the new incarnation of the site.
Moreover, asked whether the former content of the site would be preserved, Zemlin replied,, "Absolutely." Publishing an average of four stories each work day, Linux.com has been a major source of how-tos and community history, and some observers have been worried that this archival material might be lost in any transfer of the URL.
In addition, Zemlin has also given some indication of how the site's advertising policy might change. "To be clear," he says, "the kind of advertising we expect on the site is stuff that looks more like PBS-style "Brought to You By" rather than "Get a Cheap PC Here."
Asked specifically about whether Linux.com under the Foundation would accept advertising from Microsoft -- a source of many readers' complaints under SourceForge's management -- Zemlin replied, "We're the Linux Foundation. It's not like it's in our interest to advertise Microsoft products. That's pretty obvious."
"The message we want to give to the community is, 'We get it,'" says Zemlin. "We want you to participate in expanding this site. That's how the community works, that's how Linux has been successful, and that's how we want to move forward. What I would like to emphasize is: We would love everyone who has visited Linux.com in the past ten years to come to this new site, and tell us what they would like to see. That would be the most helpful thing."
Bruce Byfield is a former contributing editor at Linux.com