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Wed Jan 10 20:24:04 GMT 2007

Two groups committed to the business adoption of
Linux are merging to streamline operations and represent Linux versus
its challengers with one voice.

The Open Source Development Labs in Beaverton, Ore., will combine with
the Free Standards Group in San Francisco to form The Linux Foundation.
The two six-year old groups shared overlapping memberships of corporate
sponsors and overlapping goals, said Jim Zemlin, executive director of
the new foundation.

"We will be a vendor neutral organization capable of responding to
competitors' attacks and FUD," said Zemlin in an interview Friday 19
Jan. He is the former executive director of the Free Standards Group.

The merger still needs to be ratified by the members of the two groups,
which is expected to be completed in early February.

While the foundation will continue the activities of both groups, the
merger also represents some continued paring down and refocusing of
goals. First and foremost, said Zemlin, will be the continued
independent employment of
Linus Torvalds and other Linux kernel maintainers.

"We will provide a safe haven for key developers," Zemlin said, citing
Linux package maintainer Stephen Hemminger as well as Torvalds. Andrew
Morton, sometimes referred to as Torvalds' righthand man as a kernel
maintainer, left a job sponsored by the Open Source Development Labs in
August to continue his Linux work at Google.

Torvalds, Hemminger and other kernel developers were previously
supported by OSDL. In December the group announced that it was cutting
nine of 28 staff members and turning operations over to its Chief
Financial Officer Mike Temple. At the time, OSDL CEO Stuart Cohen
resigned to pursue other opportunities.

Both groups depended on corporate sponsors for their annual budgets.

Key backers of The Linux Foundation include HP, IBM, Intel, Novell and
Oracle. The group will have 70 vendor sponsors in all. Other members
include Fujitsu, Hitachi and NEC.

Zemlin said the foundation will continue to supply the Linux Standard
Base, an agreed upon set of system functionality that is supported by
major Linux distributions. Keeping the Linux core functionality
following a standard allows developers to produce applications that will
run with different versions of Linux without modifications. The
foundation will also provide the Linux Developer Network, which provides
information and specifications on the services and interfaces that work
with Linux.

The foundation will manage the Linux trademark and provide legal
services, including the Open Source As Prior Art project to defend
against patent challenges and the Patent Commons, where companies may
contribute their patents to be used in defense of Linux.

"Microsoft spends a lot of money protecting its Windows platform. We're
going to do the same thing," Zemlin said.


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