SEATTLE—Most Linux proponents likely never expected to see Microsoft listed as a sponsor for a Linux Foundation event. Yet that's precisely what happened at the LinuxCon North America event here this week.
Microsoft was a sponsor of the event and also had a booth in the vendor area that attracted a significant amount of attention from conference goers. Some were curious and engaged with the booth personnel while others openly gawked in disbelief that Microsoft was present. Many stopped by the booth to also pick up an item that has never before been seen at a LinuxCon conference, a small rubber "Tux" penguin, with a Microsoft logo on it, which may well have been the most popular piece of "swag" at the event.
The vitriol against Microsoft in the Linux community, however, isn't entirely gone. When Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, held up a Microsoft Tux penguin during a keynote session on Aug. 18, he was actually heckled.
"Don't hold it [the Microsoft penguin]," an audience member shouted. "You might get cancer."
In 2001, Microsoft's then-CEO Steve Ballmer famously called Linux "a cancer," but times have now changed according to Zemlin.
In a brief video interview with eWEEK, Zemlin discusses Microsoft's participation in multiple Linux Foundation efforts and his own personal interaction with Microsoft employees.
"My personal interaction with them [Microsoft] has been really positive," Zemlin said. "Say what you will about Microsoft, but they have a lot of super-intelligent people that are fun to work with, honestly."
Watch the video with Jim Zemlin below:
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.