Linux power lunch: Debian founder visits Microsoft

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 MurdockThe 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?

Topic: Operating Systems


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Putting my Loverock Rosy Glasses on...

    (Pretending to be Loverock, since he's not here to post first and needed a proxy)

    Gee, I've been right all along even though I have refused to make my case. This is a clear cut example of Microsoft bailing out Linux because Linux knows nothing.

    (Now rushing to take a power washer-based shower to rid the stench of Loverock)
    • Do NOT give up your lawn mowing job.

      Comedy just isn't your thing.
      • Yyuko trolls for lusers and catches a No_Ax_to_Grind!

        Have you found work yet?
        • Still at work

          It's amazing what I find when I'm out there mowing the lawn. The grinding sound of my blades as it struck No Ax in the grass was well... sickening. But that's what happens when you don the Rosy Glasses and pretend nothing is in front of you.
          • Hard to miss an unemployed whale of a luser...

            Hope the lawnmower is ok.
          • C'mon now

            I know I started this thread in jest, but that's some serious name-calling you're pulling there. No Ax may not have as open a mind as the rest of us, but still, calling him an unemployed whale is really below the belt and is beneath even those of us who instigate trouble here.

            A little decency goes a long way. We kid each other in jest, but we don't stoop to being schmucks. Okay?
          • don't stoop to being schmucks

            Why not? Axey does it all the time.

            When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Which way to the vomitorium, again?

            Jack-Booted EULA
          • Ever notice how fast these Microsoft 'propaganda' stoires move down???

            Must becuase the propaganda turns into 'truth' which Microsoft and their fanbois, stockholders, IT department owned-souls and idiotic CIT, CEO and CIO's simply can not stand for (or they would not make the money they do from lying to the public and private sectors!)!
          • Why are MS users so defensive???

            What is your problem? The Linux users can discuss the pros and cons of Windows and Linux. When you get MS users in the game, alot of them are like you. Why are you so defensive? Do you need to be defensive? Are you worried?
  • Do I smell another "deal" coming?

    Yeah, could just be. Debian will join with Novell in their Microsft deal.
    • Debian doesn't/can't make deals

      No_Clue_To_Grind wrote:<br>
      Debian will join with Novell in their Microsft deal.
      Novell is a <b>public corporation</b>. Its officers have the authority to enter into contracts.
      Debian is an <b>association of individuals</b>. We elect officers according to a constitution. (We use Condorcet's Method for proportional representation.) It's a democracy. A proposal as big as a "deal" with MSFT would go to a vote and die. Should the officers suffer some kind of mass psychosis and make a "deal" anyway, the Debian project would fork and leave them behind.

      It's one of the reasons we <b>trust</b> Debian. The whole structure is designed to resist attack by money-men. If your ideology prevents you from understanding (or believing) that, your ideology has a bug.
      • Then why do you think he is there, to drink the kool-aide?

        Surely you don't beleive that he is there to convert the masses to your religion, do you? What other purpose could his visit serve?
        • Because there are those at MS as witless about Debian as you

          And MS can tell this to the anti-trust brigade - "look, we even invited Linux developers to our campus. How open minded can we be?"

          The Banjo
        • Why not, I'd take the tix too

          <p>If MSFT offered me an expenses-paid trip to Seattle, I'd take it, too. I've never been to Seattle. I've never seen MSFT's HQ campus. Because of the vast scale of the Debian project and its upstreams and derivations, its contributors represent a noticeable fraction of the software development community. I would be amazed if there are no MSFT employees among its contributors. MSFT customers generally ignore MSFT's End User License Agreement. I suppose quite a few MSFT engineers ignore the we-own-your-dreams provisions of their employment contracts, and the best and brightest just crossed them out before signing. If you're good enough, that kind of thing is negotiable. A trip to Seattle would be a chance to meet some of the team.</p>
          MSFT has always been interested in reverse-engineering and imitating its competitors. It's always had some pathetic excuse for a unix in its product line, first Xenix, then its share of SCO, and now its POSIX services "layer." It also offers some obscure FOSS products, notably its really bad Advanced Server Pages module for Apache, and the public domain Core Fonts. It has to do things like that to be taken seriously in the Internet server market. Bringing Murdock in for a guest lecture is a harmless way of looking friendly.</p>
          It doesn't make any sense as a way of influencing or infiltrating or sabotaging Debian. There's nothing secret in Debian, and MSFT probably has a local mirror already. A maneuver to inject proprietary code into a Debian project would blow up in MSFT's face.</p>
          But I suspect MSFT's motive here is trying to understand the wild success of Debian's <b>development and management model</b>, not Debian's <b>product</b>. Managers are always looking for the latest fad methodology. How does Debian (or any other huge FOSS project) motivate its workers? It must be incomprehensible to MSFT executives.</p>
          • maybe how do they make such a competent product for $0

            when Vista sucks and it cost $5bn.
          • Maybe because it's not "Zero Dollars"?

            Time is money, so there is a great amount of money involved. Holds true with everything.

            If all the hours where added up and a cost placed to them, Linux could turn out to be the 100 billion + dollar product.
            John Zern
          • "If all the hours where added up and a cost placed to them"

            but the fact is NO ONE DONATES to Microsoft. MS is just not worth the effort! People, i.e. the community, donates BILLIONS in man hour dollars FOR FREE so the computing public can continue to use their hardware without the Microsoft tax encumbrance.

            Microsoft is dead. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon. And APPLE will live on to the horror of Microsoft Only fanbois.
          • Free Labor

            OK, let's just think about this. I work in the auto industry so I'm an outsider to this whole debate. But the model that MS may be looking at is how to get users, aka people not on the payroll, to contribute to their enterprise.

            If i
    • "Debian will join with Novell in their Microsft deal."

      Don't you mean Microsoft has found another schuck that will 'forgive' Microsoft for stealing their IP? That is what this is ALL about...getting Microsoft OFF THE HOOK for stealing these companies IP!!!!

      Microsoft...another day, another dollar, and another SCHMUCK that falls for our propaganda to save themselves (even though it is not needed...these companies just FALL for the Microsoft line like SCHUCKS!!!)!
    • Kinda doubt it, but you never know

      Can't imaging why MS would want to deal with debian. They are not truly a threat and there would be niothing gained since the Debian-based distros (especially Ubuntu) would simply continue on.

      We have SuSE (on about 30 machines) most running 10.0 or 10.1. The new 10.2 is so unusable now that we are switching to Ubuntu. I wonder if it is mere coincidence that SuSE has gone so downhill with 10.2 since it's deal with MS. Everyone has their price, I guess.