Former Linux Architect Moves to Microsoft

In a surprising turn of events, Gentoo Linux's founder and former chief architect, Daniel Robbins, has joined Microsoft.

A leading Linux figure, Daniel Robbins, the founder of Gentoo Linux and its former chief architect, has announced that he has accepted a position at Microsoft Corp.

In a brief note to the Gentoo Foundation Inc. community, Robbins said he was leaving Gentoo and that he will be "helping Microsoft to understand Open Source and community-based projects."

Microsoft confirmed that Robbins began work at Microsofts campus in Redmond, Wash., on May 23. Sources at Microsoft said Robbins is working with Bill Hilf.

Hilf is Microsofts lead program manager for its Platform Strategy organization. There, he leads Microsofts Linux and Open Source Software technology group. Before coming to Microsoft, Hilf drove IBMs Linux technical strategy for its emerging and competitive markets organization. Robbins title is program manager for the Platform Strategy team.

Gentoo Linux is one of the most popular Linux distributions. Its non-commercial status, as well as its reputation as a bleeding-edge distribution, has largely kept it out of the enterprise.

Nevertheless, eWEEK Labs believes that it is a good fit for testing the latest versions of key open-source software components.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read eWEEK Labs analysis of Gentoo Linux.

Unlike most distributions, like Red Hat Inc.s RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), Gentoo is "from source" distribution.

That means it ships with a tool called Portage that lets users acquire and update software by downloading source code and compiling applications to suit their particular needs. Robbins based Portage on FreeBSDs Ports tool.

Portage uses "Ebuild" scripts for software packaging. An Ebuild file contains all the information required to download, unpack, compile and install a set of source-code programs, and to perform any optional preinstall/post-install/removal or configuration steps. Ebuild scripts are written as Unix/Linux bash shell programs.

This approach has been much admired in the open-source community.

"[Robbins] approach was technically superior to the other distros in its fundamental approach. It was the right approach," said Hans Reiser, creator of ReiserFS (Reiser File System), the default file system in such popular Linux distributions as SuSE, Linspire and Xandros.

Robbins had been moving away from his distribution for some time. In April 2004, he surprised the Gentoo community by resigning from development responsibilities and his role as chief architect for Gentoo.

At that time, he also began setting up the non-profit Gentoo Foundation, which now runs Gentoo development.

Before joining Microsoft, Robbins finalized the transfer of Gentoos intellectual property, essentially Ebuilds copyrights and other software, as well as soon-to-be trademarked Gentoo logos to the Foundation.

Editors Note: This story was corrected to reflect that Robbins is working with Bill Hilf and Microsofts Linux group, not Bill Hill and the ClearType group.

/zimages/2/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.