VMware Joining Linux Foundation

Virtualization leader VMware is joining the Linux Foundation, which could prove to be a boon to both the virtualization and open-source hypervisor communities. VMware has had its share of problems with the open-source community, including charges that it violated open-source code standards. But VMware is now giving away its ESXi hypervisor for free and some believe VMware could open-source the hypervisor, despite statements to the contrary from VMware executives.

VMware is bringing its x86 virtualization know-how to the Linux Foundation and will begin contributing resources to the open-source community.

VMware, which despite the added competition of Microsoft, Citrix and other vendors is still considered the leading developer of x86 virtualization technology, and the Linux Foundation announced that the company would join the nonprofit organization as a member Aug. 6.

The fact that VMware has joined the Linux Foundation is an important step forward for both virtualization technology and open-source software. When new VMware CEO Paul Maritz took control of the company in July, he indicated that VMware needed to move deeper into cloud computing. In the emerging cloud computing model, Linux is expected to play a large role in creating this new type of large-scale data center. IBM has shown its preference for Linux in the types of cloud computing infrastructures that it has already begun building.

In addition to the cloud, VMware is now giving away its ESXi hypervisor for free and while some believe that VMware could open-source the hypervisor, the company's executives have said there are no plans to open-source the code at this time.

In a statement, VMware did not indicate what it would specifically contribute to the open-source community. VMware, did, however, list some of its previous contributions, including the contribution of its Virtual Machine Interface, a paravirtualization interface, as an open specification and other contributions to the Linux kernel.

However, the upbeat announcement from VMware and the Linux Foundation did not address some of the past and ongoing concerns about how VMware has dealt with the open-source community.

An article in Virtualization.Info lists some of the current and past grievances with VMware, including a complaint that VMware did not offer its paravirtualization interface for the Linux kernel for two years, and that some in the open-source community have questioned the company's use of open-source code.

The article also points out that VMware does not yet offer a Linux version of VirtualCenter, the company's server management software.