From the ‘Say It Ain’t So’ files:
I remember sitting down with Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation not long after Microsoft announced it was becoming a sponsor of the Apache Foundation in 2008. At the time Zemlin told me that Microsoft had no place at the Linux Foundation.
For the LinuxCon Europe event which is going on this week in Spain, if you look closely you will notice that Microsoft is listed as a Gold Sponsor.
That’s right, Microsoft is a Gold Sponsor of a Linux Foundation event. They are sponsors at the same level as IBM, Red Hat and SUSE.
Back in 2008, Zemlin told me: “The Linux Foundation is in the business of promoting Linux and coordinating activity to make Linux better. You can’t join this organization unless that’s your game. So if Microsoft woke up one day and said we really want to support Linux, I guess I’d consider it, but I’m just not seeing it.”
True, Microsoft is not ‘actually’ a member of the Linux Foundation (yet). But it is also true that Microsoft wants Linux support, especially for its Hyper-V virtualization efforts. Thanks to that Hyper-v technology, Microsoft has also contributed a non-trivial amount of code to Linux as well. That said, Microsoft is certainly not an open company and it still extracts countless millions in patent threat related intellectual property items from Android vendors, likely based around Linux and open source IP.
I’m not exactly sure how Microsoft ended up being a Gold Sponsor of the Linuxcon event. At the Gold Level for an event, sponsorship is worth approximately $20,000 and it looks like it also comes with a guaranteed session speaking opportunity too.
**UPDATE*** I’ve been informed by the good people at the Linux Foundation that the Gold Sponsorship for the 2012 event was actually only $18,000 and doesn’t include the guaranteed speaking slot. The $20,000 and the speaking slot guarantee for Gold Sponsorship are the specs for the 2013 event. ***
Don’t get me wrong, I have complete faith in the Linux Foundation and I’m a huge fan of the work they do. I just think it’s interesting to note, that four years after Apache took Microsoft’s money, the Linux Foundation has now (to a significantly lesser extent) done the same thing.