Less than two weeks after VMware Inc., the proprietary virtualization software leader, signed up for membership in the Linux Foundation, Canonical Ltd., the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu open source software, joined as well.
Of the two, VMware is the more surprising since its software isn’t open source, despite its recent decision to make its ESXi virtualization server available for free. In fact, however, VMware recently contributed its Virtual Machine Interface for paravirtualization to the open source community and is working on other ongoing community projects. But Canonical’s joining seems, if anything, overdue; its founder, Mark Shuttleworth, also helped launch the Linux Foundation and is a current board member.
So what’s going on? Is this the beginning of a wave of new members? Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation’s executive director, thinks so.“You will be seeing many more new members of the Linux Foundation in the near future,” Zemlin predicted. Collaboration is critical in the open source community, and the Foundation is a place to meet and solve problems, he said.
Well-known tech blogger Jason Perlow wasn’t quite in agreement. He said Canonical’s joining is “almost a nonevent” because of its “huge support” of the community. Nevertheless, its membership puts it on an equal footing with multibillion-dollar firms in a “somewhat exclusive club” and might prompt Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc. “to take the snappy little upstart” more seriously, he said.Jay Lyman, an analyst at the New York-based 451 Group, said the two new members — especially Canonical — are both “key” to the Foundation because of the popularity and innovation of Canonical’s Ubuntu software. VMware’s membership is not as important to the organization overall, but should help Linux to stay at the forefront of virtualization, he said.Canonical’s silver-level membership (the lowest of three full membership levels) puts it one up on open source leader Red Hat, which is at the same support level but, unlike Canonical, doesn’t have a seat on the board. (Novell is a top-level platinum member.)
Hmmm …perhaps the popular open source software company from across the ocean will start getting a lot more respect.