Daniel Robbins' long journey to Redmond

Summary:Given his skills and his need to support a family, Robbins is a perfect fit for Microsoft. He will spend his time advising Microsoft product teams on open source development, testing, and deployment issues.

Daniel RobbinsMany bloggers make a sport out of dismissing media companies, until one offers to start sending them checks.

Without solid business models open source will suffer the same fate. Exhibit A is Gentoo founder Daniel Robbins, who joined Microsoft last month.

Before you start in on the Star Wars jokes (Gates telling Robbins "I am your father," MicroSith attracting Robbins to the Dark Side) hear the whole story.

Robbins is a very talented programmer. He was not only the distro's founder, but the source of many of its innovations, according to Gentoo's official history. This includes Portage, its distribution system, which can also build and install the package, keeping it up-to-date. Thanks to Robbins Gentoo can be quickly optimized and customized for nearly any application. There are over 8,000 different packages in the Portage tree.

Unlike some programmers Robbins is also an engaging public speaker, evidenced by this talk (in Windows Media Player format) he gave at Stanford last year. And in 2003 he had a daughter, Tzipporah.

Despite all this open source success, however, Daniel Robbins had trouble paying his bills. When he resigned as Gentoo's chief architect in 2004, users held an online fundraiser for him, with donations and purchases of merchandise.

Given his skills and his need to support a family, Robbins is a perfect fit for Microsoft. He will spend his time advising Microsoft product teams on open source development, testing, and deployment issues.

What does this mean for Microsoft and open source? Not much, most likely. Microsoft can't change its business models, and open source is not going away.  What it means for Robbins is a good salary and, I'm certain, the respect he has earned.

I think some of that respect is also being given here to Linux developers generally. This weekend I hope some of you will bask in it, because you deserve it.

Topics: Open Source

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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