The Linux Foundation: Who Should Join The Gang? - InformationWeek

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8/20/2008
01:11 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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The Linux Foundation: Who Should Join The Gang?

Now that Canonical has added its name to the roll call of companies on board with the Linux Foundation, a question comes to mind: Is the foundation becoming the thing that "separates the men from the boys" in the Linux world? It may well be, and that wouldn't be bad news.

Now that Canonical has added its name to the roll call of companies on board with the Linux Foundation, a question comes to mind: Is the foundation becoming the thing that "separates the men from the boys" in the Linux world? It may well be, and that wouldn't be bad news.

The single biggest criticism I hear about Linux in general is that it's "fragmented." That's also one of the most useful things about Linux: it's not one monolithic entity, but a starting point from which people can derive any number of other works. What people are discovering, though, is that there need to be other points of consistency aside from the place where you start (e.g., the kernel). That's a big part of what the foundation is all about -- ensuring consistency along the way, for those who need it.

For an outfit like Canonical, being on board with the foundation is probably mandatory at this point. They're too important a player not to be on board; Ubuntu is too politically significant as a distribution and a unifying force in its own right. Folks who make "splinter" distributions like Damn Small Linux or Puppy are not missing out by not being part of the action per se; they're going to do their own thing anyway. Their individual goals aren't encompassed by most of what the Linux Foundation is pushing for, which includes (among other things) broad compatibility for applications across distributions.

The bigger the player, the better the odds (and the better the justification) for them coming on board with the foundation. But none of this should come at the cost of making Linux into, to coin a phrase, an all-sizes-fit-one solution. Linux will, and should, remain a plastic solution for those who need it to be plastic. I don't expect anything less, really.

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