February 14, 2006 7:24 AM PST

Gentoo Linux founder quits Microsoft

Daniel Robbins, the founder and former chief architect of the Gentoo Linux project, has quit his job at Microsoft after only eight months, the software giant has confirmed.

Last May, Robbins made the unusual switch from being a well-known member of the free software community to becoming a paid employee of Microsoft, which is one of free and open-source software's biggest critics. He worked under Bill Hilf, who runs Microsoft's Linux and Open Source Software Lab, and had an "educational" role within the company.

Robbins told ZDNet UK in an e-mail Monday that he decided to leave because he was not able to use all his technical skills in his role.

Daniel Robbins
Daniel Robbins

"I didn't make the decision to leave Microsoft due to concerns about the company as a whole--Microsoft has just had a string of very successful product launches and I anticipate that it will continue to enjoy great success," he said.

"The reason I decided to leave had to do with my specific experiences working in Microsoft's Linux Lab. Although I believe that the concept behind Microsoft's Linux Lab is a good one, I wasn't able to work at my full level of technical ability and I found this frustrating," he said.

His last day at Microsoft was Jan. 16.

Robbins has accepted a job as the chief technical officer of ABC Coding Solutions, a company based in Albuquerque, N.M., that provides information products and consulting services in the health industry.

Hilf, the director of technical platform strategy at Microsoft, said the company wishes Robbins well in his new role.

"Yes, Daniel Robbins has decided to leave Microsoft to pursue his passion for software development with an independent software vendor where he will be focused on building in .Net on Windows. This move also takes Daniel and his family back to their hometown community of Albuquerque?We thank Daniel for his contribution to Microsoft and wish him the best of luck on his new job," Hilf said.

Chris Gianelloni, the release engineering lead at the Gentoo project, was reluctant to comment on Robbins' latest career move, but said that it would not affect the project: "While Daniel was a strong proponent of Gentoo back in his heyday, he's been away from us long enough for his actions to not impact us in any way."

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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12 comments

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eew.. hes doing .net now?
i run gentoo so it is kind of disappointing that he now professionally works with .net
Posted by Intangir (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Garbage Raker
Everybody's gotta put food on the table. I don't mind doing .net rather than tomcat, jsp, etc. It's all bits and bytes to me. I just think that any language with a garbage raker has a certain element of garbage within its own set of instructions. At the end of the day it's still programming/hacking away at whatever BS language it may be.
Posted by (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yeah but .Net is more BS than the others
because it is owned by a bunch of really really evil people. I would rather use a product that helped the IT community rather than promoting evil.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
He should know better
So he is now working with .Net.
But .Net is not as good as .Com and .Com runs mainly on Open Source. He of all people should know that the future is open source.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What is .Com??
I think you may be referring to com objects which
are a Microsoft distributed object framework.
Corba was the original standard for distributed
object frameworks. .Net, what it implies, is a
Windows-based network services framework. The idea
is to extend your applications to the network.
Java has offered something similiar for about 10
years. The industry in general is moving towards a
simpler framework which is commonly referred to as
Web 2.0. This is simply Web services using existing Javascript/HXTML/etc. Pick your poison.
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
Link Flag
Yeah but...
The future may be open source but commercial solutions development is what pays the bills. Open Source is gaining ground in commercial markets but when corporations are purchasing solutions they want something that is supported by a culpable commercial entity (i.e. when it breaks just after they didn't renew the developer's contract, they can sue someone other than the developer) and can be supported with a more generic, relatively cheap, and abundently available skill set. .Net is that animal... there are lots of good .Net developers out there and with 1 $250/hr open source development guru vs. 2 or 3 $80-90/hr .Net developers... I know who I would hire!
Posted by Source00 (12 comments )
Link Flag
To Share a Bit of Information with you..
There is a community, a shared culture, of expert programmers and networking wizards that traces its history back through decades to the first time-sharing minicomputers and the earliest ARPAnet experiments. The members of this culture originated the term hacker. Hackers built the Internet. Hackers made the Unix operating system what it is today. Hackers run Usenet. Hackers make the World Wide Web work. If you are part of this culture, if you have contributed to it and other people in it know who you are and call you a hacker, you're a hacker.

The hacker mind-set is not confined to this software-hacker culture. There are people who apply the hacker attitude to other things, like electronics or music  actually, you can find it at the highest levels of any science or art. Software hackers recognize these kindred spirits elsewhere and may call them hackers too  and some claim that the hacker nature is really independent of the particular medium the hacker works in. But in the rest of this document we will focus on the skills and attitudes of software hackers, and the traditions of the shared culture that originated the term hacker.

Hackers (and creative people in general) should never be bored or have to drudge at stupid repetitive work, because when this happens it means they aren't doing what only they can do  solve new problems. This wastefulness hurts everybody. Therefore boredom and drudgery are not just unpleasant but actually evil.

There is another group of people who loudly call themselves hackers, but aren't. These are people (mainly adolescent males) who get a kick out of breaking into computers and phreaking the phone system. Real hackers call these people crackers and want nothing to do with them. Real hackers mostly think crackers are lazy, irresponsible, and not very bright, and object that being able to break security doesn't make you a hacker any more than being able to hotwire cars makes you an automotive engineer. Unfortunately, many journalists and writers have been fooled into using the word hacker to describe crackers; this irritates real hackers no end.

The basic difference is this: hackers build things, crackers break them.

I'll assume you have a personal computer or can get access to one. (Take a moment to appreciate how much that means. The hacker culture originally evolved back when computers were so expensive that individuals could not own them.) The single most important step any newbie can take toward acquiring hacker skills is to get a copy of Linux or one of the BSD-Unixes, install it on a personal machine, and run it.

Yes, there are other operating systems in the world besides Unix. But they're distributed in binary  you can't read the code, and you can't modify it. Trying to learn to hack on a Microsoft Windows machine or any other closed-source system is like trying to learn to dance while wearing a body cast.

Unix is the operating system of the Internet. While you can learn to use the Internet without knowing Unix, you can't be an Internet hacker without understanding Unix. For this reason, the hacker culture today is pretty strongly Unix-centered. (This wasn't always true, and some old-time hackers still aren't happy about it, but the symbiosis between Unix and the Internet has become strong enough that even Microsoft's muscle doesn't seem able to seriously dent it.)

So, bring up a Unix  I like Linux myself but there are other ways (and yes, you can run both Linux and Microsoft Windows on the same machine). Learn it. Run it. Tinker with it. Talk to the Internet with it. Read the code. Modify the code. You'll get better programming tools (including C, LISP, Python, and Perl) than any Microsoft operating system can dream of hosting, you'll have fun, and you'll soak up more knowledge than you realize you're learning until you look back on it as a master hacker.

Therefore, you have to learn to distrust attitude and respect competence of every kind. Hackers won't let posers waste their time, but they worship competence  especially competence at hacking, but competence at anything is valued. Competence at demanding skills that few can master is especially good, and competence at demanding skills that involve mental acuteness, craft, and concentration is best.

Now maybe you all understand why he really left. I could not post all of the information that I found, it is too lengthy. But if you would like more insight into the real hackers world and mindset, here is a link:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html</a>

Most of this was written by Eric Steven Raymond, who is a master at the art. Nuff said.
Posted by Eskiegirl302 (82 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well there's Hackers.. and Businessmen..
I don't believe Microsoft is interested in any technology from Linux at all. I think the primary reason for this group is combative.

I think the problem is Daniel is a hacker and the businessmen didn't want that. They want to say "Hea look who we have on staff. We *really* must believe in working *with* Linux if we have people like this."
Posted by Solaris_User (267 comments )
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