Linux Foundation Aims to Advance Open-Source Software Development

LOS ANGELES — The Linux Foundation hosted its annual Open Source Summit North America event from Sept. 11 to 14 in Los Angeles, highlighting open-source efforts that it helps to lead. One question that Linux Foundation Executive Director, Jim Zemlin grapples with on a regular basis is why his organization continues to be relevant.

In an era where anyone can simply go to GitHub and start a project, the barriers to entry for open-source development are very low. The Linux Foundation however isn't about basic open-source project hosting, according to Zemlin.

"One question that we ask ourselves all the time inside of The Linux Foundation is why do we need The Linux Foundation," Zemlin told eWEEK in a video interview. "What's the point?"

Zemlin noted that in the early days of Linux, there were multiple barriers to starting a new open-source project. GitHub has changed the landscape and ushered in the era of social coding that has increased participation in open-source software development.

What The Linux Foundation does is it helps to provide structure to sustain and foster collaborative development across diverse groups of companies and industries. Zemlin said that new members continue to join his organizations for a variety of reasons.

Zemlin noted that for example he was at the Detroit Auto Show seven years ago where he was invited to speak about software and its role in the automotive sector. Zemlin said that car manufacturers were looking for new ways to build technology. That visit led to engagement with multiple vendors and the creation of the Automotive Linux project, which is helping to get Linux into millions of vehicles this year.

"The importance for our members is that we provide value and we understand when we no longer provide value," Zemlin said. 

Rather than trying to grow all parts of The Linux Foundation, Zemlin said that in fact he's trying shrink multiple parts of his organization this year and is looking to consolidate projects where it makes sense.

"We don't want to grow for growth's sake," he said.

Watch the full video interview with Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation above.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist