July 2, 2003 1:09 PM PDT

Linux lab hires second guru

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A day after Linux founder Linus Torvalds joined the Open-Source Development Lab, the group has hired another top programmer, Andrew Morton, the developer who will assume responsibility for the upcoming 2.6 version of Linux.

The move further elevates the importance of the Beaverton, Ore.-based group, which is sponsored by IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and numerous other companies. Torvalds began his OSDL employment Tuesday after taking a leave of absence from chipmaker Transmeta.

"That's some serious heavy hitters on board," said RedMonk analyst James Governor. "This makes ODSL look stronger and more influential."

Morton will assume responsibilities for maintaining the coming 2.6 version of the Linux kernel when it's released, after which Torvalds will shift his attention from the 2.5 development branch to the new 2.7 branch. Morton, who had already been involved in overseeing 2.6, is among Torvalds' key lieutenants, along with programmers such as Alan Cox, Jeff Garzik, Greg Kroah-Hartman and David Miller.

Although OSDL will fund Morton to work full time on the 2.6 kernel, he'll retain his principal engineer title at Digeo, which makes set-top boxes.

"What we are really looking to accomplish is to become recognized as the center of gravity for Linux," OSDL Chief Executive Stuart Cohen said in an interview. "The addition of Linus and Andrew takes us a long way to being a significant provider and contributor to the development community."

OSDL is working to expand its membership to include some large computing companies that aren't yet on board. OSDL is in talks with Sun Microsystems, Oracle, SAP and Novell, Cohen said.

Other companies OSDL would like to recruit as members include Lenovo (formerly Legend Computing), PeopleSoft and Linux sellers Conectiva and Red Flag. The group hired Brian Grega as vice president of business development in part to attract new partners.

Another founder of OSDL is SCO Group, whose $3 billion lawsuit against IBM alleges that IBM misappropriated Unix intellectual property to improve Linux. SCO no longer is an OSDL member, and Cohen said the company's lawsuit hasn't slowed the Linux momentum.

OSDL is broadening its ambitions in other ways besides hiring top programmers, Cohen said. It's set up an advisory board of Linux users to make sure OSDL members are meeting their needs--not just in Linux technology but also in ancillary requirements such as support, education, services and consulting. The board's first meeting runs July 23 to 24.

"If we identify a shortfall...we know we either have to go back to our members to find a member interested in offering that service, or we need to recruit a member that's going to have that capability," Cohen said. If no members or other companies are offering the required service, OSDL will consider taking on the job itself, he said.

 

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