Linux power lunch: Debian founder visits Microsoft

Summary:Ian Murdock, the chief technology officer of the recently formed Linux Foundation (created from the merger of ODL and the Free Standards Group) is set to address a group of Microsoft employees on February 20.

Ian Murdock, the chief technology officer of the recently formed Linux Foundation (created from the merger of ODL and the Free Standards Group) is set to address a group of Microsoft employees on February 20.

Linux Foundation's Ian Murdock
The subject of Murdock's "Invited Speaker Series" talk: The Debian Linux distribution.

Microsoft has invited a lot of interesting guests to campus as part of its various speaker series. Open-source advocate Eric Raymond has spoken there. RSS pioneer Dave Winer has. So has journalist/blogger Dan Gillmor.

But Murdock -- given recent Microsoft and open-source sparks -- could be one of the most controversial invitees yet.

A synopsis of the event, provided by Microsoft IT Security Consultant and blogger Rocky Heckman, says Murdock will "discuss the origins of Debian, paying particular attention to the importance of community and our use of an open development model. Ian will also provide an eyewitness account of the rise of Linux and open source beyond the Debian project, discuss its impact on the economic landscape, and explain why it doesn’t have to be a threat to Microsoft and its business model."

Heckman also said Murdock will "give some presentations on open source projects" while at the company.

Murdock himself confirmed his Microsoft speaking engagement, noting that his visit was arranged by Bill Hilf's group. Hilf is Microsoft's general manager of platform strategy and former director of Microsoft's Linux lab.

According to additional biographical info, in addition to working for the Linux Foundation, Murdock also is chair of the Linux Standard Base, which is the Linux platform interoperability standard. He also is the founder of Debian.

As Murdock notes on his own blog:

"I founded Debian in 1993 and led the project from its inception to 1996. (The name “Debian” is a concatenation of 'Deb', my wife’s name, and 'Ian'.) Debian was one of the first Linux distributions and arguably the first open source project that explicity set out to be developed in a decentralized fashion by a group of volunteers. Today, over 1,000 volunteers are involved in Debian’s development, and there are millions of Debian users worldwide."

What's your take? Does Murdock's visit imply there could be some kind of Microsoft interop agreement involving Debian and/or the Linux Foundation in the works? Or do you envision it as nothing more than a friendly power lunch?

Topics: Operating Systems

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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