Bruce Perens, who recently left his position as senior Linux and open-source strategist for Hewlett-Packard Co., plans to continue in his role as an open-source evangelist—and as a thorn in Microsofts side.
“I will also continue with activities like my role on the W3C patent policy board. I am also going to be offering consulting on open source policies and processes for corporations, and on public relations with the open source developer community,” Perens told eWEEK in an e-mail exchange Wednesday.
“As the primary author of HPs open source policy manual, and a founding member of its Open Source Review Board, I am well equipped to help other companies use open source successfully,” he said.
While declining to elaborate on the reasons behind his departure from HP, Perens confirmed that while he was “terminated” by HP, it was an “amicable parting, and I hope to do some consulting for HP in the future.”
An HP spokeswoman declined to comment, citing corporate policy against discussing employment history of current or former HP employees.
Perens was appointed to HP some 18 months ago to help focus and propel the companys Linux and open-source vision and to serve as the companys point man for the open-source community, where he was well respected and had significant ties.
One of his most notable achievements was leading the Debian Project to create a Linux distribution based on open-source software. He also helped to craft the Debian Social Contract, which later became the Open Source Definition.
Industry sources said talk is that Perens and HP management clashed about his vocal support and often outspoken style. The sources said he was expected to tone down his often sharp anti-Microsoft rhetoric following the merger of HP and Compaq Computer Corp., given the extent of the new companys Microsoft business.
Ironically, at the time of his appointment in December 2000, Perens told eWEEK that part of his job description was to “challenge HP management” and that his goal was to ensure that the company integrated the Linux operating system into its business plan in a far greater way than it currently did.
“My goal is to increase the role of Linux across HP as well as to facilitate greater communication with the Linux and open-source development communities. I will also be working towards ensuring that whatever hardware we produce, an open-source developer will be able to write his own driver for it. If I can achieve that alone I will have accomplished something significant,” he said.
: Linux Guru Bruce Perens Leaves HP”>
Mike Balma, the director of marketing for HPs Linux system operations at that time, said this was the first time a large corporation like HP had brought a high-profile Linux evangelist into such a senior management position.
“As Linux became increasingly pervasive across the company, we realized how much we needed to bring someone in-house who was a great engineer but who also had credibility in the open-source community and could hear their voice,” he said.
In March, Perens told eWEEK that he did not expect any significant shift in the Linux strategies as a result of the proposed merger between HP and Compaq.
The merger would, in fact, effectively create the largest global Linux company and be a good meld of HPs Linux technology operation with Compaqs huge hardware business, he said.
“This will be a good fit of the differing capabilities of the two firms. The HP team has enormous experience in developing a range of hands on Linux solutions, while Compaq moves enormous amounts of hardware. As such, our Linux business would immediately be far larger and have the potential to grow even more,” he said.
HP remained a three operating system company, supporting Windows, Linux and Unix, and its focus going forward would be improvements in system administration, hardware administration as well as simpler clustered Linux system administration, Perens said at that time.
But his relationship with HP management has sometimes been strained. In July, Perens publicly announced that he would openly discuss how to circumvent DVD player controls in a presentation at the OReilly Open Source Convention in San Diego. But pressure from HP saw him back off from those details in his presentation.
However, at that time he gave what was perhaps a warning of things to come, reportedly saying that he was “too political to be an employee.”
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(Note: This story was updated after receiving comments from Perens.)