Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Who runs the Linux Foundation?

The Free Standards Group has finished its friendly bailout of Open Source Development Labs, with the announcement Tuesday of election results for the Linux Foundation merged board of directors. The result seems to be an entity that is governed according to the FSG, but run more by the OSDL than the FSG.

The old FSG board had 9 members, and the OSDL board had 14 (later 12) members. The carryovers to the 14-member 15-member LF board are unsurprising:

  • James Bottomley (SteelEye), Dan Frye (IBM), Hsashi Hashimoto (Hitachi) and Tsugikazu Shibata (NEC) from the OSDL board;
  • Mark Shuttleworth (Ubuntu) and Andrew Updegrove (law firm Gesmer Updegrove) from the FSG board;
  • Masahiro Date (Fujitsu) and Markus Rex (Novell, formerly of SuSE) from both boards; and
  • Doug Fisher of Intel, replacing two Intel representative: Fisher (former OSDL chairman) and Dirk Hohndel (of FSG)
Slightly more interesting are a few new faces:
  • Christine Martino of HP replaces Steve Geary of HP from both boards;
  • Wim Coekaerts, the main Linux person at Oracle;
  • Christy Wyatt of Motorola;
  • Tim Golden of Bank of America;
  • Brian Pawlowski of NetApp; and
  • Marc Miller of AMD. This never would have happened at OSDL with Intel as one of its key founders and one of the largest (if not the largest) investor.
The most interesting to me were the names that were dropped:
The LF board looks very very corporate, with the same heavy Japanese representation as OSDL. The LF did away with the two dedicated non-profit seats, although it keeps three at-large seats; the remaining seats are reserved for paying members. As with FSG, there are tiers of members and directors, and in fact the LF retains the same membership tiers (and the website still lists the same members) as the FSG. However, the election doesn’t seem to conform to the Linux Foundation bylaws.

The eight Platinum members who pay $500k/year are each guaranteed a seat, which explains the holdovers (Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Intel, NEC, Novell) and the new Oracle rep. The Gold members who pay $200k/year are promised three seats: AMD, NetApp and BofA Motorola. The Silver who pay $20k/year get one director, apparently BofA. And then the three at large directors: one required by the bylaws to represent the technical advisory board (Bottomley) and two other at-large directors (Shuttleworth, Updegrove).

Another measure of who won the merger is infrastructure. The directory structure of is that of the old, and the LF headquarters is in San Francisco (as in FSG) and not Oregon (as was OSDL).

Update 8:30 p.m.: Mea culpa. I had several initial mistakes which led me to believe there was a gap between the bylaws and the new directors. The StandardsBlog posting omitted Wyatt of Motorola (a Gold member) and thus implied there were 14 members; the official press release is complete. Amanda McPherson of LF e-mailed to clarify that BofA is a Silver member (although they are still not listed among the official members on the website.)

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