OSDL Brings Torvalds Right-Hand Man on Board

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-07-01

OSDL Brings Torvalds Right-Hand Man on Board

Just weeks after scooping up Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux operating system, as its first full-time fellow, the Open Source Development Lab is bringing his right-hand man Andrew Morton on board as well.

The OSDL, a global consortium of technology companies dedicated to accelerating the adoption of Linux, will announce on Wednesday that Morton, who currently helps maintain the Linux kernel, has joined forces with the Lab and will be focused on the 2.6 kernel during its maintenance cycle.

OSDL CEO Stuart Cohen says other similar high-profile appointments are likely. "We want to make sure that we are doing our fair share as it relates to participants in the developer community. Our moves around Linus [Torvalds] and Andrew [Morton] is really shoring up, if you will, our participation with the development community and more such appointments are likely," he told eWEEK on Tuesday.

Morton, who works as principal engineer for Digeo Inc., a provider of media center products and interactive television services, will retain his official role at Digeo while being sponsored and supported by the OSDL for his Linux kernel development work.

Mark Himelstein, the senior vice-president of Software at Digeo, said the move is a "win-win situation" for all parties. Digeo is using Linux to drive its next-generation media centers for the home, and Mortons participation ensures the company and the Linux community a high-quality kernel release.

It is expected that Morton will at some point assume the role of lead maintainer of the upcoming 2.6 Linux production kernel, while Torvalds will maintain the next development kernel.

In an interview with eWEEK on Tuesday, Morton said that Torvalds has traditionally taken prime responsibility for stabilizing the production kernel and then handed it over to someone else to maintain, as happened with the 2.4 kernel.

"Much the same thing will happen with the current 2.5 development and upcoming 2.6 development kernel over time, but the details and timeframe around this hasnt been decided as yet," he said.

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As lead maintainer of the Linux production kernel, Morton works closely with Torvalds, the various kernel subsystem maintainers, Linux distributions, hardware vendors and other key parties to ensure that the production kernel meets their needs.

Morton is also responsible for ensuring that the production kernel is stable and offers good performance. He is the final arbiter over technical and business issues for the inclusion of patches into the production kernel.

"For the past 18 months I have been running an alternate kernel, like a mini-Linus, and incorporating a range of changes from a variety of sources. Once I feel these are suitable for merging and are stabilized, I send them to Linus.

"About 1,800 changes have gone through my hands and that path in the 2.5 series," he said, adding that a pre-kernel release is likely within weeks.

Morton was previously a software engineer and product development manager at Nortel Networks. Prior to that, he was managing director of an Australian-based personal computing company.

Torvalds welcomed Mortons move to the OSDL. "Its great that both Andrew and I can work full time on Linux through OSDL. Now the maintainers of both the development kernel and the stable kernel have the support of a vendor-neutral organization committed to advancing Linux", he said in a statement.

OSDLs Cohen said the Lab remains committed to supporting the work of engineers like Morton and to accelerating the use of Linux. It is putting its "money where its mouth was," not just on the development side but also with the IT vendors and the end-user community.

"We are clearly being recognized as the center of gravity for Linux and are in the midst of forming a customer end-user advisory council to look at the business proposition of Linux and what users need from a full value chain if you will to implement Linux enterprise wide," he said.

The first session of the advisory council will take place in New York on July 24 and is expected to have 12 members from a range of industries, including financial and retail, as well as industry analysts, Cohen said.

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