As Linux continues to make inroads into enterprise data centers, the developer of the freely available software has joined Open Source Development Labs, a consortium focused on developing the Linux operating system for corporate use.
Linus Torvalds, who created Linux in 1991 when he was a university student in Finland, is taking a leave of absence from chipmaker Transmeta, where he has worked as a Transmeta Fellow, to move to OSDL where he will focus exclusively on Linux.
Torvalds will become the first fellow of OSDL, a non-profit organisation formed in 2000 to accelerate the growth and adoption of Linux in corporations. Its members include HP, Computer Associates International, IBM and Cisco.
Stuart Cohen, who took over as CEO of OSDL in April, said Torvalds' decision to join OSDL lent credibility to the organisation that was aiming to be the center of Linux development in the enterprise.
Last year, OSDL launched the Data Center Linux project to strengthen Linux as an enterprise-computing platform.
"This will create an even tighter relationship between the developer community and the end user community," Cohen said. "We are moving to become the recognised center of gravity for the Linux industry."
At OSDL, Torvalds will work exclusively on leading the development of Linux, guiding thousands of Linux developers around the world. He will also help set priorities and direction for the lab's different initiatives.
"It feels a bit strange to finally officially work on what I've been doing for the last 12 years, but with the upcoming 2.6.x release it makes sense to be able to concentrate fully on Linux," Torvalds said.
While the manner in which Linux code is developed won't change, the addition of Torvalds to the OSDL organisation will provide more overall structure to the Linux community, research director at Aberdeen Group, Bill Claybrook, said.
"Torvalds moving over really moves the focal point of Linux to OSDL," Claybrook said. "This will give [the development of Linux] more structure and people will know where they can come for information about Linux: roadmaps, when updates are coming out, new features, and so on. That will help Linux in the enterprise."
Linux already is seeing growth in corporate data centres. Recent IDC research noted that servers running Linux were "once again, the brightest spot in the worldwide server market".
The Linux server market was $US583 million in the first quarter this year, a 35 per cent jump compared to the same quarter a year ago.
Linux also has been at the center of a legal battle waged by The SCO Group, which claims that IBM misappropriated protected Unix code to develop enterprise-worthy Linux software.
Cohen said he was not concerned by the SCO litigation.
"The momentum of Linux is very strong," Cohen said.
As for Torvalds, he called his move to OSDL "big news". "I've decided to take a leave-of-absence after more than six years at Transmeta to actually work full-time on the kernel," Torvalds said.
"Transmeta has always been very good at letting me spend even an inordinate amount of time on Linux, but as a result I've been feeling a little guilty at just how little ‘real work’ I got done lately," he said. "To fix that, I'll instead be working at OSDL, finally actually doing Linux as my main job."