If OSDL is the center of gravity how should it act?

Summary:A few weeks ago the folks at OSDL took some decisions.They're a small outfit, with just 57 employees, in the Portland suburb of Beaverton.

OSDL logo
A few weeks ago the folks at OSDL took some decisions.

They're a small outfit, with just 57 employees, in the Portland suburb of Beaverton. They let some folks go. But they also announced plans to expand further into Asia, and open an office in Europe. (We're going global! Am I the only one who remembers that classic ad from the 1990s? Good times.)

Given OSDL's size there was no press release, no statement on the Web site. The people being let-go were offered help finding other employment in the area. No big deal.

Or was it? When the news came out, in a blog, and CEO Stuart Cohen then answered ZDNet's questions, one thing he apparently did was repeat the company line, that OSDL is the "center of gravity" for Linux development.

By that, a spokesman told me, "it means OSDL serves as the only place where vendors, users and the development community can come together."

I said something like "whoa." If you're the center of Linux development, shouldn't you put out a press release or statement when you make these kinds of changes? Is the center of Linux development going to be a black hole?

An hour after we talked an official statement came in via the e-mail:

OSDL has reduced staff in sales, marketing, business development and programming. The Lab's mission has changed in the past year and it has decided to realign its investments accordingly. There is more demand for global activities with new offices in China and Europe and the Labs had to invest more in IP issues sooner than it had planned. OSDL is solid financially. Its membership continues to grow, and Linux continues to advance, with IDC projecting the 2004 market to grow from $14 billion to more than $35 billion in 2008

I know. It doesn't read like anything we didn't know last week to me, either.

Oh, but maybe I'm being too irritable. Why should OSDL be pro-active in communicating its strategy and changes with the Linux community? They're small. They want to stay nimble. They can't be busy with trivial things like communicating what they're up to. That's not central. Keeping great people like Linus Torvalds and Andrew Morton in hand-crafted beer (Portland is the Milwaukee of the 21st century) is far more important.

But what do you think? Should OSDL keep quiet, or do you expect more from a "center of gravity?" Let us know in TalkBack.

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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