Sunday, April 15, 2012

Out of the ordinary is the Open Source Leader

A few days ago the Linux Foundation raised eyebrows by disclosing that Microsoft has earned a place on its top contributors list.

Yes, that’s right. Microsoft has contributed enough code to Linux to make it #17 on the list of companies supporting the kernel. Red Hat and Novell rank higher, of course. So does Google. But we must now acknowledge Microsoft as a major contributor. Not bad for a company whose CEO once described Linux as “a cancer.”

The reaction among Linux hackers is best described as surprised and wary. Understandably, they are concerned that Microsoft is attempting to influence the development of Linux in ways that benefit Microsoft. But you know, that’s how open source projects work. Contributors are free to add the code that best instantiates their view of how the world should be. Microsoft’s likely goal is increased interoperability. That is unlikely to hurt anyone. On the contrary, it’s a good thing for everyone.

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