Jim Zemlin, Linux Foundation
However, out in the Linux community, flickers of doubt were heard. Skepticism. Anxiety. Uncharitable postings on message boards.
Some murmured, darkly, that the Linux Foundation is merely a corporate front, with sponsors likes IBM, HP, Intel, and Novell (wait, didnt Novell just sign an accord with Microsoft?). So the Foundation is just a shadow group designed to put the corporate boot on the neck of Linux, some said.
Still others wondered if the Foundation would do anything useful at all. For instance, Gartner analyst George Weiss, quoted in Linux.com, opined that the group has a short window to prove itself: If you don't hear from them for another 12-15 months, and they disappear into the woodwork, you can write them off."
Other observers scoffed at the notion of a central guiding light for Linux. All those free-spirited distros Slackware, Knoppix, Gentoo, the list goes on whos going to rule them all? Organizing the Linux community is like herding cats. Nobodys going to tell me what to do. (Translated: If I wanted to be a subservient dweeb Id buy a button-down shirt and go work for Microsoft.)
So alas, add up all the doubts and you realize the new Linux Foundation has some work to do.
Someone, clearly, had to get to the bottom of this. So a humble reporter from Datamation, his notepad full of questions, placed a call to Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundations executive director.
The first thing you realize upon talking with Jim Zemlin is that hes a natural communicator. While many trade group spokespeople are scripted automatons, Zemlin seems open and real, even possessing a spark of charisma. A born front man.
Still, maybe thats part of the plot by the Foundations corporate sponsors hire someone who seems authentic. So Jim, whats the deal? What about all this talk of big business controlling Linux?
Zemlin laughs. I appreciate all the [talk of] conspiracy out there, he says.
Theres lot of theories out there, and you know what? Thats what I love about open source. He chuckles again. I love that stuff. But at the end of the day, this is about providing choice, about providing freedom. There are certain principles in the open source world that nobody is going to compromise.
Id say, for once in history, the interests of large corporations and community members, people who use technology, are aligned.
And it is fine to have corporate participation. But I would also point out this organization will have direct representation from key community developers, on our board of directors. Our work group and technical activities are completely open. Our standards specifications are wholly published, online, free for all. The development tools that we build are completely available under an open source license, free to anyone who cares to download and use them.
He welcomes close examination of the Foundation and its activities. I think that scrutiny is a good thing. And this organization wants to be very open to that.
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